French Terrines

November 15th, 2008

Country terrine low res.jpgLike producing your own bread, making a terrine, ballotine or even a simple pate gives great satisfaction.  I’m not sure why this is … maybe it’s a tactile thing or just the pleasure of stepping back in time to when people actually made everything they ate.

When I first married I couldn’t cook at all but having married a Frenchman that situation had to change, and fast.  It was also the era (is it returning?) when the dinner party was was the thing to do when it came to entertaining friends.  We didn’t go out to restaurants that much in those days.  You spent a full day prior to “the big night” laboriously preparing tricky (over-worked) dishes, was most of the evening in the kitchen and then the next day cleaning up.  Nothing was spontaneous and freshly cooked — couldn’t cope with that!

But one of the things I did learn to do well was a French terrine.  There are endless varieties, they are better made ahead of time (the flavour develops) and make great left-overs.  Here is a classic recipe from Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion:

Country Terrine

250 g chicken livers

40 g butter

1 small chopped onion

1 thick slice wholemeal or sourdough bread, crusts removed

500 g minced fatty pork (shoulder, neck or belly)

250 g minced skinless poultry or rabbit

2 cloves finely chopped garlic

sprig thyme, leaves stripped from stalk

2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground all spice

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons salt

3 eggs

50 ml brandy

1 bay leaf

Preheat oven to 180C.  Cook livers quickly in half the butter until just stiffened, then remove and cut into chunks.  Add remaining butter and stew onion until soft. Process bread in a food processor to form crumbs. Mix all ingredients except bay leaf very well and pack into a 1.5 litre earthenware or cast iron terrine mould. Mound slightly and press bay leaf on top, then cover with terrine lid. Stand terrine in a baking dish and pour in water to halfway up sides of mould. Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out hot when you touch it to your bottom lip. Place a light weight on the terrine itself when it comes out of the oven and allow to cool overnight. Serve with cornichon and toast.

Lined terrines: It is traditional to line a terrine mould with either thin strips of hard back fat, caul or bacon. It makes the pressed terrine easier to cut.

Tricks:  fry a teaspoon of the raw terrine mixture to check the seasoning — remember you need more salt/flavour when food is cold.  You can layer the terrine with strips of rabbit, duck or pork.  

3 Responses to “French Terrines”

  1. […] food, things like freshly made brandade, just baked baguettes, flourless chocolate cake, hunks of terrine and rare roast beef. Tough, […]

  2. wordpress minisite template packsgeon 12 Feb 2013 at 9:14 pm

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  3. Dolma Harion 28 Feb 2013 at 9:35 am

    I’m overjoyed to see a new update, I was going through withdrawals! I get a charge out of reading your essay’s, I can’t get enough of it!

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