Terrines are one of those food that are easy to impress people with, but extremely easy to make. Hard to make well of course, but what isn’t.
Here’s our bad boy to the right.
Looks a little like a block of fat at the moment, but you’ll soon see it isn’t all that bad for you. Terrines are one of those peasant foods that are made from all the budget ingredients, but just became a little trendy.
You can make a terrine of any size and they’re all pretty much the same. The main thing is to buy a terrine mold. I picked up this one from Mitre 10 of all places, and for the princely sum of $NZ14. In other words, next to nothing.
To begin, set your oven to preheat at 180C. Then, begin assembling your terrine. You could just mix everything in a bowl and cook it in the oven on a tray, and you’d call it “meatloaf”. But we’re, you know, “sophistimacated”
The leaf in the terrine mold is bay, remember, always knick your bay from a tree. You want to begin by lining the inside of the dish with bacon. Cut away any rind and as much of the fat as you can before you start.
Also, you could use panchetta, prosciutto, or other cured meats if you wish. Or, just leave this step out. The main thing about the terrine is the layering of the ingredients, which we’ll get to in a sec. If you do cut out the lining of the terrine with a cured meat, then make sure to grease the inside of the mold with butter to prevent the cooked terrine from sticking.
Eventually, you’ll have a completely lined mold, like so. One you have this you can begin to build the complete terrine.
For this terrine I’m using chicken and chicken livers, but you can really use anything. The main ingredient is pork, but this is mostly to bind the layers of other types of meat together. The bacon, or other cured meats, are really only there to turn it into something like a “pie”. A meat pie, with a meat casing.
Did I already warn the vegetarians?
I’ve only a small mold, so here is about a 100g of pork mince, and I’m stripping some thyme leaves from their stalks. If you’re in Wellington you can buy cheap fresh thyme from Commonsense Organics on Wakefield Street. They sell generous bags for about a dollar (if they have it at all). Then add an egg.
Next, add a couple of tablespoons of fine breadcrumbs, and mix roughly with a wooden spoon. Don’t get too carried away. We want this to be a “rustic” terrine, and not too smooth.
Before you can add the chicken livers, you’ll want to fry them lightly, as shown below. I’ve got about 100g of livers there, and you can fry them with a little sweet sherry or Madeira wine to take some of the metallic zing off them. Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper.
Now you have all your ingredients assembled. Your mince (top left, in the bowl), your livers (next to the knife), and some chicken tenderloins. In the end I only used half of these tenderloins, which is good, because they’re the most expensive ingredient. You can usually buy these singly at the supermarket.
Now begin assembling. First spoon a thin layer of of the minced pork mixture onto the bottom of the mold (as shown above on the left). What you’re aiming to do is to place some mince, then place a tenderloin, and some of the liver, and arrange it all roughly (as shown on the right).
Continue to place a layer of mince, then a tenderloin (perhaps arranged to the opposite corners to the layer below), then some of the liver. The idea is to go for a marbled texture when you slice through the terrine to serve it.
In the end you’ll add the final layer, then cover it with mince, then fold the sticky-up bits of bacon over the lot, and you’re done! One terrine assembled.
Next, place the terrine in to a fairly deep baking dish. Terrines are cooked in a bain marie, which means you’ll want to fill that baking dish with water up to halfway of your mold. The easiest way is with a jug.
Don’t go higher, or the water could boil into your mold, which is a definite no-no. Then, place the lid on.
Once you get to the lid stage, the oven should be well warm enough (remember, 180C). This leaves one happy terrine, in the oven.
Cook the whole shebang for one hour, or there-abouts. For something this small an hour is probably too much, but…
At the end of the hour you should have warm fat seeping around the edge of the terrine mold. Take the mold out of the bain marie, and let it cool until you can just comfortably touch the sides (but not cool to the touch), then you have to press it.
To press the terrine, you want to have some heavy cardboard pre-cut to the dimensions of the inside of the mold. Cover the cardboard in tin-foil, making sure none of the juice can get in.
Place the press over your terrine, and then weight it down. Make sure it’s something that will press the body of the terrine just back below the top of the mold, pressing the juices up a little.
Allow the terrine to cool a little longer, then transfer to the fridge. Make sure it is still weighted down in the fridge (I used a couple of tubs of duck fat).
You’ll need it to cool at least overnight, but you can leave it in the mold for at least a couple of days.
Once you’ve allowed the terrine to cure, those flavours will all have mixed nicely, and it will be extremely delicious.
Release the terrine from the mold with a metal spatula or small knife. Run the knife carefully around the edges of the mold, but be careful not to dig inwards, or you’ll cut into the bacon/prosciutto.
This is actually trickier than it sounds. Make sure the knife is always angled away from the terrine itself, and towards the mold. That should ensure that you don’t accidentally slip and carve a big chunk out of your masterpiece before it’s ready to be served.
Then, break the seal on the bottom of the mold by levering it a little, before carefully tipping the terrine out onto your board.
There’s probably some easier way to release the terrine, but I haven’t heard of it yet. If you have any pointers, please let me know.
Now, a word of warning. If you have a high fat content in the terrine, or it you’ve cooked it too long/high, you might end up with some milky-looking fat on the outside of the terrine when it’s served. This doesn’t mean it’s bad. Just that it will taste like delicious pork fat. Never mind!
Once the terrine is tipped out you can either return it to the fridge (for triumphant presentation to awed dinner guests), or just cut into it, and enjoy.