Here in Canada, we have a popular spread called cretons. It is a fatty-meat spread with onions and spices. We eat cretons with a toast in the morning, in a sandwich for lunch, or as a 3 o’clock snack. Any time is a good time for this spread. 🙂
Traditional cretons preparation involves covering 1-3 lb of ground pork shoulder in milk in a large pot, then seasoning it with onions and a mix of spices. The blend of spices varies from recipe to recipe, but nearly all include ground cloves. Other spices often include cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and bay leaf. The mixture is simmered gently over low heat and stirred often to prevent scorching until all the liquid is cooked off and the mixture is thick. It is then allowed to cool, then stirred again to incorporate all the rendered fat, and transferred to a large, clean container or individual containers, covered tightly, and refrigerated for several hours or overnight until firm. Pig marrow is also often added to form a gelatin that allows it to congeal.
In Europe, they have rillettes, which were traditionally made with fatty pork belly or pork shoulder. The meat was cubed, salted and cured, cooked slowly over low heat until very tender, then raked into small shreds and blended with the warm cooking fat to form a rustic paste. Rillettes could be stored in crocks for several months. They also use it as a spread, on a toast or crackers.
- 2 pork shoulders (with bones, but skinned)
- 3 big yellow onions
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp crushed peppercorn (pepper)
- 2 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp dry basil
- 2 tbsp dry oregano
- 5-8 cups water (depending on your pot)
- 2 tbsp butter
- Remove, if not already done, the skin of the pork shoulder, but keep the fat under the skin.
- Cut the meat in large cubes (about 2 by 2 inches), and set it aside for now. Important: Do not remove the bones from the pork: these bones will give extra flavor to the spread!
- Dice the onions and chop the garlic cloves finely.
- On a medium fire, fry the onions and garlic in a large cast iron or stainless steel pot, big enough to contain all the meat and the bones.
- After the onions have changed their color, add the cut meat, all the spices, and mix well.
- Cover all the meat with water, and put the lid on. Don't cover the pot completely, leave the lid ajar a little bit.
- Let the pot simmer slowly until you can detach the meat from the bone with a fork. Depending how much meat you have, this should take between 3 to 5 hours. I know it is a long cooking time, but it is necessary in order to get all the flavor from the bones and have a great meat texture.
- When the meat is well cooked, and some of the water has evaporated, it's time to turn off the fire. Wait about 1 hour for the meat to cool down.
- Important: Before transferring the meat into the food processor, make sure to remove all the bones, otherwise you will break the blades of your food processor!
- Put the meat mixture into the food processor with the big blades installed, and give it a big spin! Keep it on until you get the texture that you like. Continue like this until all the meat is processed.
- Put all the processed meat into the big pot and mix very well for one last taste test, to verify if there is enough spices and salt.
- If you are satisfied with the taste, you can put the spread into smaller containers. I usually keep them in the fridge overnight to completely cool down, and the next morning I put the containers that I don't immediately need into the freezer!