This week I got a little ahead of myself. My husband likes nothing better than to sit down to a long leisurely lunch with a good bottle of wine and a beautifully presented charcuterie plate filled with an array of cured meats, and a selection of interesting relishes and pickles. With Father’s Day looming on the first Sunday of September, what better opportunity to collect some brownie points and try my hand at making a terrine.
Somehow I muddled my dates. Thinking this Sunday was the first of September I set off in search of a medley of perfect terrine ingredients; coarsely ground pork belly, a little free range chicken livers, smoked streaky bacon and long whisper thin strips pancetta. Ingredients in hand, reality dawned. This Sunday was In fact the 31st August and Father’s Day another week off. There was nothing for it but to push on, much to my family’s amusement.
For my first serious foray into terrine making I decided to keep things simple and rustic. Just a few beautifully fresh ingredients using a very basic technique. A good, honest farmhouse style terrine that can easily form the basis for a more elaborate offering, Google images of terrines and there is no shortage of beautifully presented labours of love, intricately layered with all manner of gourmet meats, preserved vegetables and dried fruits and nuts.
To make things easy I’ve forensically broken down terrine making into four component parts.; preparing the filling, assembling, baking, then lastly cooling and compressing the terrine.. The whole process was much quicker and a whole lot less complicated and intimidating than I originally thought, Of course it helps to be on friendly terms with your butcher and local delicatessen. I bought my pork belly beautifully prepped and coarsely ground to the required consistency, and my pancetta sliced in overlapping layers onto sheets of non stick paper which made lining my tin a breeze.
A terrine can be flavoured with any favourite combination of herbs, spices, wine and spirits. There don’t appear to be any hard and fast rules. It’s fun to have a play, but in this recipe I’ve kept to a classic flavour combination spiced with plenty of pepper, nutmeg, cloves and ginger and a good tipple of brandy and white wine. Whatever combination used, it’s always a good idea to take a soupcon of the filling and fry it off for a quick taste test prior to assembling the terrine. This gives you the opportunity to adjust the seasoning and ensure your flavours are perfectly balanced.
Using a bain-marie or water bath to bake the terrine insulates against extremes in temperature and ensures that the terrine is evenly baked and retains a deliciously moist texture. No fancy equipment is required. Just a deep oven proof dish that will comfortably fit your terrine mould. As you can see from the photo I had enough mixture leftover to make two mini taste tester terrines as well. In hindsight I could have packed the meat into the larger mould a little more tightly as when baked the terrine does shrink in size and come away from the sides of its tin.
The end result was simply gorgeous and beautifully balanced. Devoured by a most appreciative husband with plenty of fresh crusty bread and a spicy beetroot relish. There has even been a request for an encore performance on Sunday week.
A Rustic Farmhouse Terrine.
800 g pork belly mince (ask the butcher to de-bone and remove skin from a 1.2 kg piece of pork belly before coarsely grinding)
250g streaky bacon, very finely diced
250g free-range chicken livers, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed to a paste
1 large egg
5 or 6 fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves stripped from stems, finely chopped
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
100 ml brandy
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
100 ml white wine
50g shelled pistachio nuts
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to season
butter, for greasing terrine mould or loaf tin
150g flat pancetta,very thinly sliced (about 24 slices) to line terrine mould or loaf tin
Prepare The Filling
COMBINE the mince, bacon, chicken livers, garlic, egg, rosemary, pepper and spices in a bowl. Season, then stir in the brandy. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least two hours, overnight is better.
FRY onion gently in a little olive oil until soft and transparent.. Add the wine and reduce over a low heat for a few minutes until it’s thick and syrupy. Set aside to cool.
ADD to the meat mixture with the pistachios. Stir well to combine.The best way to do this is with clean hands.
TAKE a small piece of terrine mix, shape it into a little meatball and fry it until cooked through. Taste and season with a little more more salt, pepper or spices, if required.
Assemble The Terrine
PREHEAT oven to 180C. Select a deep roasting tin that will comfortably fit a 20cm long terrine mould or loaf tin. This will be filled to with water to form a bain marie for the terrine.
GREASE your terrine mould or loaf tin with butter, then line with pancetta slices. A good deli will slice the pancetta for you in overlapping layers onto grease proof sheets which makes this step a breeze. All you have to do is invert each sheet into the mould or tin, press to fit and remove the backing paper, making sure the mould is evenly covered with pancetta. Depending on the length of the slices you may have to save one layer of to cover the top of the terrine. Set aside.
FILL the pancetta lined mould or tin with the terrine mix, pushing it right into the corners. Bring the ends of the pancetta over the top to enclose the filling. If the ends are too short, cover with another layer of pancetta arranged horizontally over the terrine, tucking in any long ends.
Baking The Terrine
COVER the terrine with foil, then place into the larger roasting tin. Pour enough hot water into the bain-marie to reach 2/3 of the way up the terrine mould or loaf tin. I find this easiest to do with a boiled kettle once the terrine has already been transferred to the oven.
BAKE the terrine in the bain-marie for 45 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 160 C. Bake for another 20 minutes before testing to see if it is cooked. It will feel firmly cooked when pressed gently in the middle and the tip of a knife inserted into the middle of the terrine is warm to the touch.. If using a meat thermometer; the terrine is cooked when the internal temperature reaches 65C.
Cooling And Compressing The Terrine
REMOVE terrine from both the oven and bain-marie, then place a weight on top of the terrine to compress (a couple of cans are ideal) and cool to room temperature before transferring the terrine and weights to the refrigerator to chill overnight.
NEXT DAY carefully remove the terrine from its mould. Remove and discard any excess jelly before wrapping in several layers of baking paper or cling film. The terrine can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days and is suitable to freeze.
TO SERVE, unwrap the terrine, slice thickly with a very sharp knife and serve with fresh bread, beetroot relish and cornichons.