What To Pack For A Picnic: Potted Meat

How to become a certified picnic superhero

This is a love letter to mashed-up stuff in a jar.

French rillettes, English potted meats–whatever you call them, the idea is as old as it is simple.

Meat, usually preserved in some manner such as salted and slow-cooked for confit, is shredded together with a good amount of fat and spice, packed into a jar and topped with a bit more creamy white fat and set aside for long-keeping.

What was once a method for extending the shelf life is now just a way of making something nice to spread on toasted bread.

If there's a picnic in your future–and, really, there should be a picnic in your future–consider the benefits of potted meat: It's easily portable and comes in its own handy container. Break it out with a baguette and some mustard or fig jam, and you're a certified picnic hero.

Check out how the women of the Portland Picnic Society do it, then get their recipe for pork rillettes from Elias Cairo at Olympic Provisions.

Pork, duck, fish–everything's better in a jar. Unsure what to do with that stash of duck confit you made? Take the meat off a leg or two, then bash it up in a mortar and pestle with lots of the bird's fat, many turns of fresh ground pepper and some Armagnac.

Fish works too, as in this coarsely chopped smoked mackerel paté from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. And a mix of smoked and poached fresh salmon lends this version from Eric Ripert a velvety texture. 

It's okay, let your picnic go to pot.