The economic tide is out, and look what’s been hauled away with it: that’s not a brick; it’s a truffle terrine. That’s no driftwood; it’s a slab of foie gras. Wave them a heartfelt good-bye, trudge back to the table, then smile through your tears. Rillettes (pronounced ree-ETTS) are here to console you.
The meaty, filling spread, eaten on warm bread, has been a staple of French peasant charcuterie for centuries. Take some scraps from pork or goose, salt and cook them in lard, shred the confit, pack it into a jar and—voilà: a farm family had lunch for the week.
Today, you’ll find rillettes made from shrimp, tuna, squab—even vegetable confit with olive oil. At Bungalow (166 Stoneleigh Ave, Croton Falls 845-669-8533; bungalow166.com), chef/owner John Reynolds’s Asian riff combines ginger, coriander, and star anise in duck confit, which is served with a cranberry-ginger compote. At Antipasti (1 N Broadway, White Plains 914-949-3500; antipastiny.com), an Italianate version takes rosemary-infused rabbit confit, whips it, and serves it atop crostini alongside an arugula and warm rabbit-liver salad. At Piermont’s Freelance Cafe & Wine Bar (506 Piermont Ave (845) 365-3250; xaviars.com), dinner takes flight with a duck and sundried cherry rillette amuse bouche.
Fish-eaters, take heart: salmon rillettes have spawned in several county restaurants. Harvest on Hudson’s (1 River St, Hastings, 914-478-2800, harvest2000.com) version features both poached and smoked salmon with a torrent of herbs, and X2O Xaviar on the Hudson’s (71 Water Grant St, Yonkers 914-965-1111; xaviars.com) claims extra-virgin olive oil as the fat of choice. At Plates (121 Myrtle Blvd, Larchmont 914-834-1244; platesonthepark.com), salmon rillettes star on the catering menu, crowned with caviar and horseradish cream in a decorous glass cup (so much for Mason jars).
But traditionalists, don’t despair. Peter Kelly carries the porcine torch at X2O with a lusty winter special of pork-shoulder rillette oozing sweet confit garlic. And at Hastings’ beloved Buffet de la Gare (155 Southside Ave, Hastings-on-Hudson 914-478-1671;), newly revamped in dressed-down bistro mode, you can enjoy a plate of pork and duck rillette, cornichons, and toasted baguette. It may be peasant fare, but hardship never tasted so good.