A must in French gastronomy, pork rillettes remain a very popular culinary specialty in Sarthe. Tasty and easy to spread, they are now part of Sarthe’s heritage.
A brief history of Sarthoise rillettes
If the city of Le Mans made rillettes popular, their origins are much older. Born in the Middle Ages in neighboring Touraine, pork rillettes were already mentioned in the 15th century by Rabelais. The author of Pantagruel called this specialty “brown pig jam”.
Connerré, the cradle of Sarthoise rillettes
lbert Lhuissier buys a small business in Connerré which he transforms into a charcuterie. The entrepreneur takes advantage of train stops on the Paris-Brest line to offer his rillettes to railway workers and then to travellers.
They appreciate this easy-to-spread gourmet dish that can be eaten between two slices of bread. This is how the small town of Connerré in the northeast of Le Mans quickly became the capital of Sarthoise rillettes.
Events around Le Mans rillettes
Each year, various events celebrate the Rillettes du Mans with competitions and tastings.
The Spring of Rillettes in Sarthe
The Rillettes festival reserves two weekends and a week of celebrations throughout the Sarthe each spring. This culinary know-how is valued there among all the craftsmen, traders, restaurants and companies in the Rillettes de la Sarthe sector.
On the last Sunday, a big party takes place on the Place des Jacobins in Le Mans with the Village des Rillettes. The parade of flowery dresses and the competition for the longest rillette sandwich in the world are among the highlights of Printemps des Rillettes.
The national competition for the best rillettes in Mamers
Founded in 1968 in Mamers, the Confrérie des Chevaliers des Rillettes Sarthoises ensures the promotion of rillettes from Le Mans. In order to encourage the search for their quality, it organizes every first Saturday of February the national competition for the best rillettes reserved for professionals.
The real Le Mans rillettes recipe
Pork rillettes should be cooked in fat for a long time before being seasoned with salt and pepper. To make your homemade rillettes, you will need a cast iron casserole dish for cooking and stoneware ramekins to store them. Find all the stages of the preparation of Sarthoise rillettes in the video below with chef Jean-Marie Barbotin.
Ingredients for 1 kilo of Sarthoise rillettes
- • A third of pork bard (pork fat) or 330 g
- • Two thirds of lean pork, i.e. 670 g
- • 20 g of salt
- • 2 g of pepper
Preparing pork rillettes
- Cut the pork bard and lean pork into cubes.
- Fry the fat until lightly browned. The fat should have melted.
- Add the lean pork. Let come back for 30 minutes.
- Leave to cook over low heat, covered, for 3 hours.
- Drain the rillettes (remove the fat and reserve it).
- Add salt and pepper.
- Add fat according to your taste (ideally the fat should be flush with the rillettes).
- Stir a little then place the rillettes in the ramekins.
- Finally, leave to cool for 2 hours at room temperature before storing them in the refrigerator.
Easy to spread, rillettes are eaten cold as a starter on a piece of bread or in a sandwich with a few pickles.