Rillons, Rillettes, Rillauds, Rillots, What’s The Difference?

THIS week I thought I would explain the difference between some similar sounding terms you might find on menus during your travels in France.

As you will see, this week’s recipe is for rillons. But you may be confused to find other items such as rillettes, rillauds and rillots turning up all over the place.

My friend Geoff emailed me asking for a recipe for Rillettes, explain that he had discovered these other dishes on the internet and was more confused than usual!

Now, if you’re like me you tend to think that if something appears on the menu of a restaurant that you trust, it will be worth eating.

Certainly, as a chef I try to make everything that comes out of the Friends kitchen an interesting gastronomic experience and I am sure that I share that philosophy with most other chefs. But you do get that extra bit of satisfaction if you do actually have some idea what you are eating.

Rillettes are a speciality from Tours and Anjou.

They are made from pork, rabbit or goose cooked in lard and then pounded into a smooth paste. They are then potted and served as a cold hers d’oeuvre. They are noted for their fine texture and deep brown colour, which is produced by the near caramelization of the cooking process.

Balzac praised this ‘brown jam’ in his book Le Lys Dans La Vallee. And in the same book he acknowledged another Touraine speciality, rillons describing them as ‘pork trimmings

sautéed in their own fat, which looked like cooked truffles’.

As for rillauds and rillots (and also grillons), these are simply alternative names for rillons.

Like rillettes, rillons appear on menus as a first course, but you will find them served either hot or cold. The meat is cut into large cubes, marinated in salt and slowly cooked in lard.

In Anjou, the cubes were formerly arranged in a pyramid and served with a piece of pig’s tail on top, which was offered to the guest of honour.

So, if you have a piece of pig’s tail handy, you know how to pay an obscure compliment to your favourite guest.



450g belly of pork, cut into 5cm dice

25 g coarse sea salt

110g lard

2 tbsp caramel


1) Sprinkle the pork with the salt and leave to stand for about 12 hours.

2) Heat the lard in a saucepan and brown the pork all over.

3) Lower the heat and simmer for a couple of hours, then add the caramel and heat through thoroughly.

4) Drain well and serve at once as a starter, or with crusty pain de campagne, as a snack.

* Chef’s tip: I know a few people who would tell me that this recipe contrasts with my healthy approach to eating. I don’t agree, because I believe that if you like something ‘unhealthy’, it probably does your health a lot of good to eat it every now and again, as long as you don’t overdo it!