Eat this Word: Rillettes [ree-YEHT]

RillettesWHAT? Coveted crock. "I certainly had never had the happiness of seeing that brown mess spread on slices of bread and butter," recalled Honoré de Balzac of watching his schoolmates eat the savory spread he so desired. A native of Tours, the French literary legend may have belonged to one of the few families that couldn't afford the humble specialty of the region, where the fatty favorite is lovingly referred to as "brown jam." As with other pâtés and terrines, rillettes begin with chopped meat, salted and cooked slowly in fat (the recipe dates back to the 15th century Loire Valley, where it was likely created to use up leftover scraps of pork). The tender morsels are then shredded and stored in ramekins or crocks covered with additional fat. This age-old technique results in a rustic yet deliciously creamy paste that has aromas of garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and wine. Literally translated, rillettes means "plank," which probably refers to its appearance when

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