Stéphane Reynaud Says: Make a Terrine
He explains his love for the ultimate sharable meal
Stéphane Reynaud is the French author of the acclaimed book Pork & Sons and owner of the restaurant Villa9Trois in Montreuil, France. But this grandson of a butcher has focused his latest cookbook on a less familiar topic: the terrine. The oft-feared dish is technically a mixture of meat, fish, or vegetables that’s prepared in advance and allowed to set in its container before being sliced and served. It is one of Reynaud’s favorites, and he’s devoted Terrine to making the rest of us feel comfortable with it too. CHOW phoned Reynaud in France to ask about his imaginative interpretations of the dish and to get some of his recipes.
What made you want to do a whole book on terrines?
I like terrines because they’re for friends, for a big table. That’s why I wanted to write this book, because I like to share food with people I like. You can have the best food on your plate—if you are alone or if you are with bad people, it’s not so good. For me, cooking is to share with people.
What is a terrine?
Terrine. It’s very good. It’s hard to explain for me in English. To make a terrine you need to have an oven. You have to have lots of imagination. And to have a supermarket close to you, and then you can fix your terrine. You can make a very good terrine of vegetables, of fish, and it’s very, very, very easy to fix; people are often afraid, [but] it’s easy to cook.
Why do people think of terrines as being so hard to make?
I really don’t know. I think in the mind of people, it takes a long time to prepare it and you have to have a lot of ingredients. During Christmas I gave some lessons to people to make their own terrines, and they were very surprised, because they say, “But that’s very easy.” So you just have to start one time, and then you will see.
What makes all of these variations in your book a terrine?
For me terrine is in your mind. For me terrine is something that you can share. It’s something you can cut in 2 pieces or in 20 pieces. Terrine for me is a symbol. … You can have terrine for [an] entrée, main course, dessert—for anything. It’s very good for a buffet.
Is there anything you can’t put in a terrine?
I think you can use anything you want; it’s why I wanted to have all these different recipes, to show to people that if you have an imagination, and you have the base to fix your terrine, that you can do anything you want. If you have eggs and cream, then you can start a terrine with that. If you have a meat, then you can use that.
That’s why I wanted to write this book too. If you do the recipe the way it’s written, then you will have a very good terrine. But I like when people use a recipe and they make their own recipe.
What is your favorite terrine?
I have a lot of favorite terrines. I love the terrine with foie gras, and all the terrines with fish. I think it’s very pure. You have the real taste of the fish, and I like that. It’s very important to use good ingredients. If you make a terrine with a bad fish, you’re going to have a bad terrine.
What should people know about making a terrine?
They have to buy good ingredients. I think it’s nice to start with a meat terrine; it’s always a good success. It’s the easiest terrine to make, because you mix everything and then you put it in the oven. Then after, try a terrine with fish, and then use the eggs and cream. It needs more precision with eggs and cream than with meat, so start with meat—it’s very easy.
Do you have any tips for making a good terrine?
Just put what you like in the terrine. It’s very important that when you cook something, [you put the ingredients you love in it].
Anything else you would like people to know about terrines?
I really would like for people to try and fix terrines, because when you start to fix one, you really want to do another one, and then you are going to start to [develop your signature terrine]. When you have your own terrine, you are going to be proud of it. I like that, when people are proud about their own terrine.
Photo Credit: Charlotte Lascève; photo-illustration by Sean McCabe