Last December 4th, I published a post entitled “Country Terrine.” I got one comment on the post. My blog was only about 2 months old, so it’s not surprising. But thank you, anyway, my friend Kay from the Single Gourmet and Traveler.
So here it is that time of year again, when I feel it necessary to make some of my favorite dishes. And one of those dishes is a terrine.
A terrine, in my book, is the country cousin to the more refined and upscale pâté. But although a pâté is made from liver, a terrine has nothing to do with liver. It’s a fabulous grouping of various meats, poultry, and game that are ground up, marinated, and then cooked slowly in a water bath. After the cooking process, the terrines are compressed with weights. What you end up with are delightfully hearty slices of dense and flavored charcuterie, that are beautiful on cheese platters or mixed with other hors d’oeuvres. Terrines are also fabulous picnic foods.
Before someone points this out to me, there are other kinds of terrines, but today I’m only referring to the terrine de champagne, or country terrine, made with meat. A terrine is also the name of the loaf-shaped pan that these are cooked in as well, just to confuse everybody a bit.
For this terrine, I used pork, pheasant, and quail. I also decided to add hazelnuts, just to make things more festive. In the terrine I made last year, I included diced ham, and also pistachios. There are so many different ways to make terrines, which is why they’re so fun to make. And after you make one, you realize that a recipe really isn’t necessary. If you want to check out last year’s country terrine, you can find it here.
3 pounds pork loin or shoulder
6 pheasant breasts
Breasts of 6 quail
8 ounces fat of choice, but not oil
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 small onion, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 cup cognac
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped hazelnuts
Pass all of the meats through a meat grinder. I used two different discs – the medium and the coarse disc as well. Just to give the terrine a little textural factor.
Place all of the ground meat in a large bowl. Add the fat. For this terrine, I used some fat that I’d scraped off of chilled beef stock. But you can also ask for fat from your butcher. I know it seems strange to add fat but trust me on this. Unless you’re using fatty meats in the first place, which I am not, some fat is necessary or the terrine will end up dry.
Then add the onion, garlic, and sprinkle everything with the cognac. Mix well.
Smell the mixture. You should be able to smell the thyme and allspice. If you can’t, season more. Both the thyme and allspice are essential, to me, in a terrine.
If you prefer to test the mixture by taste, place a little bit of the meat mixture in a hot skillet and cook it, then sample and check for seasoning. Adjust as necessary.
The alcohol is also an important element in the terrine, so you need to be able to smell it as well. I can’t drink straight cognac, but I can tell you that it’s fabulous in a terrine. It gets absorbed; the cooked terrine doesn’t taste like there was ever any alcohol in it, but you do get the smell and flavor sensation of it.
In the terrine I made last year, I used a combination of madeira and brandy. They all do the job – even white wine.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate the meat for at least 24 hours in the refrigerator.
Then pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.
When you are going to cook your terrine, bring the meat mixture to room temperature. Add the hazelnuts at this point. If you add the nuts the day you begin the preparation, they get too soggy and soft.
Spoon the meat mixture into a loaf pan – something you would make a meat loaf in, for example – or terrine mold, if you have one. Smooth the top of the terrine. Add some bay leaves for a little extra flavor.
Place the loaf pan in a larger pan and fill the larger pan with water to a halfway level – essentially a bain marie or water bath. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 2 hours hours. The terrine I used is fairly shallow; deeper pans would require a longer cooking time.
Remove the pan from the oven and remove the loaf pan from the water bath. Place weights over the terrine and let it cool for about 4 hours. Refrigerate for at least 4 days before serving.
When you are ready to serve the terrine, bring it first to room temperature. Remove the bacon and bay leaves, then remove it gently from the loaf pan. Serve in slices. Serve with good mustard, breads, cheeses, and olives or pickles. This recipe will make one large, or two smaller terrines.
Like I mentioned above, once you make one of these, you’ll never need a recipe. The seasoning is important, an amount of fatty meats or fat itself are important components, and it’s also important not to overcook the terrine. Enjoy!