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Terrines

Meat terrines/pates

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Meat terrines/pates

MHann | Sep 3, 2004 11:25 AM

How many of you prepare baked meat terrines/pates? I find that this is a painstaking, troublesome activity, but I love the result. So we are on the same page I'll provide one of my successful terrine recipes, an adaptation of a recipe I found in a cookbook.

Venison Terrine
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14 oz venison
14 oz pork
12 oz pork fat
4 oz chicken livers
about 24 oz of sliced bacon

zest of one orange
zest of one lemon
1 Tablespoon salt
2.5 Tablespoons green peppercorns, whole
1 bay leaf
25 black peppercorns
16 white peppercorns
12 juniper berries
3/8 teaspoon marjoram
3/8 teaspoon allspice
3/8 teaspoon dried basil
1 minced shallot
1 clove garlic minced
1/16 teaspoon paprika
3/16 teaspoon mace
1/4 cup cognac
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 egss blended with 3 tablespoons flour

Pork fat is essential to making this and most terrines. It may be difficult to find. What I do is talk to the butcher in my grocery store and ask him to save me pork fat trimmings. They may trim pork only on special days. When I know I'm going to make a terrine, I call several days in advance. When I get the pork fat I trim off the meat and crummy fat. I may use the pork meat -- for example, for the pork component of the terrine -- or I may discard it. Pork fat freezes well, so ask for up to 4 or 5 pounds if they can get it for you.

Lightly blanche bacon in boiling water for about 3 minutes and then drain. This procedure removes some but not all of the smoke flavor of the bacon. The bacon will be used to line the mold that the terrine will bake in. If you have access to thin slices of pork backfat, the traditional terrine mold lining material, use this -- though the optional flavor of the smoke will be missing from your terrine.

Chop up the meats and pork fat into cubes. Taking about 1/3 of the meats and fat at a time, chop them up coarsely in your food processor. Don't forget to include the chicken livers. After processing the meats coarsely, process 1/2 to 2/3 of the meat again to produce a very finely minced, paste-like blend. Mix this finely processed meat with the coarsely processed meat. I think the additional texture that this elaboration provides is desirable. Others may prefer a smoother texture, in which case process all of the meat finely. Place the meat in the refrigerator to keep it cool. This meat can be called a forcemeat.

Break the bay leaf up into small chunks and add to a mortar. Add juniper berries, black peppercorns, and white peppercorns to mortar. DO NOT add green peppercorns to mortar! The green peppercorns are to be added whole. With the pestle grind up the spices. I used to have a Braun coffee grinder with small blades the whirled around inside a transparent plastic lid which I used to grind spices very finely -- very quick, easy, and successful. Unfortunately, my foolishly washing this device after use led to rusting the internal mechanical assembly and seizure of the blades. If you have such a device feel free to use it instead of the mortar and pestle.

Add all the spices to the forcemeat, including the whole green peppercorns. Add the wine and cognac to the forcemeat. Add the egg/flour mixture. Blend all together. You can taste this forcemeat to see if it meets with your approval. If you are squeamish about this, you can fry a small portion -- which may be termed a "rissole" if you want to be precise -- and taste this fried portion. You may even trust your fate and just proceed on without making trial of the taste. About all you can adjust at this point is to add salt. And this does need to be rather salty and spicey, as the finished product will be eaten cold.

You will have a mold of about 1.5 litre size or a plurality of molds whose combined capacity approaches 1.5 litres. Line the mold(s) with the blanched bacon. This is kind of a troublesome process. It doesn't have to be perfect. Put the forcemeat into the bed formed by the bacon slices, taking care to not disturb the bacon slices. This is best accomplished by adding small spoonfuls of the forcemeat. Don't overfill the mold. When you have added sufficient forcemeat, you then cover the top of the forcemeat with bacon. If you left an overhang of bacon, you can just fold this over. Otherwise you can cut pieces to length and lay them on top. With the bacon in place, the top of your forcemeat/bacon assembly should just reach the lower edge of the cover lip of your mold.

Take a sheet of aluminum foil, double it over on itself, cut it to slightly larger than the size of your terrine mold. Fold the edges over to make the foil exacly fit the mold. Cover.

You will have preheated your oven to 325 degrees. You will have brought a large kettle of water to boil. You will have an oven ready vessel such as a roasting pan or casserole large enough to contain the terrine mold, which may be called a main-marie. Put the terrine mold in the pan and pour the boiling water into the pan until it comes about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way up the side of the terrine mold. Don't overflow the bain-marie. Don't pour water into the terrine mold. Put the whole assembly into the oven and let bake for 90 minutes. Take a rest, you'll find you need one.

After removing the terrine from the oven after cooking 90 minutes, lift the lid and aluminum foil and look at the forcemeat. It should have separated from the sides of the mold and be sitting in a bath of liquid fat. This is as it should be. A toothpick inserted half-way into the forcemeat will be clean when retracted, indicating the forcemeat is done.

Place the terrine on a cooling rack for 2 hours. After 2 hours, remove the lid and place a brick or other weight onto the aluminum foil. When the terrine has cooled to roughly room temperature -- maybe 4 to 6 hours -- put it in the refrigerator. When the terrine has cooled for maybe 8 hours, remove the brick and put the lid on the terrine. If a brick does not work, employ some other device to apply weight to the forcemeat, such as cans of tuna. For an oval mold I have cut an oval board, place the board on the forcemeat, and the brick on the board. The weight has the effect of enhancing the "sliceability" of the finished terrine, making the terrine forcemeat self-adhere.

Let the terrine "mature" for three days in the refrigerator -- if you have enough discipline to resist the temptation of testing it earlier -- before eating it.

Serve the terrine by cutting 1/4" thick slices. Leave the fat on the slices. You or your guests may eat or discard the fat. I guess I mostly don't eat the chunks of fat, but others may feel otherwise. Serve on a cooled plate, if you are being particular, along with a few slices of sweet midget pickles and slices of french bread buttered with sweet unsalted butter. I drink a light red wine, such as a california pinot noir, with this particular terrine, though most of my terrines go better with dry white wines such as sauvignon blanc.

My wife does not care much for this terrine, nor my children. I love it. I will prepare a serving as described and disappear to the dining room with a book, terrine, and wine. I usually find that I cannot resist a second serving of terrine.

There are a lot of things that can be varied in the above recipe. Most of the portions of spices can probably be varied without harm. They just happen to be the quantities I have used with success. The proportion of meat to fat is important to the success of the dish. This is a lot of fussing, I know, but I don't think any steps can be omitted without harm, and the end result is very pleasing.
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So, this is what I mean by terrine. Do any of you make such things? What is your favorite recipe? I got most of my instruction on these from Jane Grigson's "The Art of Charcuterie" or a similar title. I have also taken guidance from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume I, Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking, and a book titled "Terrines and Pates" (or "Pates and Terrines", I don't remember which) by some european chefs, including a man whose last name, I think, is Ehlert.

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