I’ve got a confession to make.
When I cook from a recipe book or magazine – it needs to look like the picture. Anything less is a flop. I’m a Virgo. I crave order and perfection. I can’t help it.
Let me give you an example….
I really like to make terrine. I find it immensely gratifying to gently carve the first slice; slipping through the cured pork cocoon to reveal a perfectly balanced brawn, elegantly bejeweled with emerald pistachios and the scent of eau de France. The harmony of texture and colour in that picture-perfect slice sends me to my happy place – and I haven’t even tasted it yet!
For those who have never savoured this Gallic delight, terrine came into existence long before refrigerators were invented, as a way to preserve meat. It is closely related to paté – the difference being that the latter has a smoother, more homogenised consistency. Nowadays, terrine is an essential charcuterie item on most French tables; served cold as part of the family meal as often as it is showcased in exclusive Parisian bistros. A true food for the people!
So what’s in terrine?
Well there’s a good deal of beast (vegans, vegos, pescetarians and raw foodies might want to bail here). It’s usually a mix of coarsely chopped chicken, duck, pork, venison or wild boar. The meat is layered and enclosed in a delicate wrapping of bacon or prosciutto – or sometimes the terrine is baked en croûte – in a pastry casing. Personally, give me the swine wrapped version every time!
Then there are the seasonings – generous amounts of aromatic garlic and traditional herbs such as sage, rosemary and thyme. Most wonderfully, there’s Brandy, Armagnac or Cognac. Meats, herbs and booze – Vive la France!
For terrine lovers like me (how could there be haters?) here is a foolproof recipe for making your own courtesy of donna hay magazine (Issue 64, 2012). It’s not a low-cost recipe, but keep in mind that it goes quite a long way. It’s great for entertaining as you make it a day in advance and if there are any leftovers, it makes for a mean sandwich filling. Bon Apétit!
Chicken, Duck and Pistachio Terrine
4 x 200g duck breasts, skin removed
½ cup (125ml) brandy
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
20 slices prosciutto
550g coarse chicken mince
500g coarse pork mince
2 tablespoons thyme leaves, extra
1 tablespoon each, sea salt and cracked black pepper
½ cup (90g) shelled pistachios
½ cup (80g) chopped pancetta pieces
2 egg whites
Place the duck breast, half the brandy, 2 cloves crushed garlic and 1 tablespoon thyme in a bowl. Leave in the fridge for 2 hours to marinate.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. If you don’t have a terrine dish, line a lightly greased 32cm x 8cm x 8cm loaf tin with slices of prosciutto so they are slightly overlapping. Set aside.
Remove the duck breasts from the marinade, reserving the marinade, and set aside.
Place both minces with remaining thyme, brandy and garlic in a bowl with the salt, pepper, pistachios pancetta, egg white and reserved marinade and mix well to combine. It’s best to get your hands dirty! Place half this mixture in the prosciutto-lined loaf tin, pressing down ensuring the layer is evenly spread. Top with the duck breasts and remaining mince mixture, pressing to flatten. Fold over the prosciutto to enclose the mixture and cover the tin with alfoil. Place the tin in a large, deep baking dish and fill with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the loaf tin.
Place in the oven and cook for 1½ hours until firm. Remove the tin from the water bath and cool slightly. Place a piece of cardboard (cut to size) over the terrine and weight it down with some heavy cans. Refrigerate overnight. Remove the terrine from the tin. I like to wipe over the terrine with a fresh disposable dishcloth to remove some of the jelly that naturally forms – it just looks prettier.
You absolutely must serve the terrine with cornichons and chutney.