Terrines have a long and illustrious history, and they are easy both to create and eat. The first terrines (or pâtés) probably date back to the Romans, but recipes have evolved over the centuries. One of the things I love about them is that whilst they have a sophisticated reputation, they are just as at home in a picnic basket as on the menu of a top-class restaurant. I don’t think there is another dish as simple to prepare that gives comparable dining pleasure. Whether dressed up with aspic flourishes and pastry leaves, or presented plainly as a simple rustic lunch with crusty bread, there is always a satisfying terrine for every occasion.
The most taxing part of creating a terrine is getting the balance of flavour and texture right. There are complicated versions that require mosaic-type layering and attention to detail, but in the words of Richard Olney, the American cookbook writer and editor, “A simple terrine is never so good as when prepared in the easiest possible way, all of the ingredients of the composition mixed, pell-mell but intimately, together”.
MARVELLOUS MUSHROOM TERRINE
When we think of terrines we often visualise classic game or pork creations, but vegetarian versions can be equally satisfying and just as hearty and tasty as any meat terrine. This recipe for a meat-free, dairy-free and gluten-free terrine is certainly not ‘taste-free’, and is a hit with vegans, vegetarians and hardened carnivores alike. It’s delicious served with a good dollop of crab apple jelly. I have served it as a starter, and as a main dish with roast vegetables.
75g dried Porcini mushrooms
75g finely sliced Portobello mushrooms
200g red wine
200g shallots, peeled and finely diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 × 330ml tin of coconut milk
2 tsp fine agar-agar powder
500g skinned, chopped nuts (hazelnuts work well)
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 Soak the dried Porcini mushrooms in the red wine and water for 40 minutes.
2 Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium-sized saucepan and gently fry the shallots for 4–5 minutes until just translucent.
3 Add the garlic and Portobello mushrooms, then sauté them on a low heat for 5 minutes.
4 Add the rehydrated Porcini mushrooms, together with all the liquor, then gently reduce the contents, stirring regularly until the liquid has thickened to a glaze.
5 Add the cayenne pepper, mustard and redcurrant jelly, then stir to combine.
6 Stir in the coconut milk, bring to the boil, then simmer, stirring frequently, for approximately 5 minutes, or until the mixture begins to reduce.
7 Remove from the heat, add the agar-agar and whisk to combine, then return to a low heat, whisking continuously for 5 minutes until fully dissolved and incorporated.
8 Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 10–15 minutes.
9 Blitz the skinned nuts in a food processor for 5 minutes – or until they acquire the consistency of smooth, creamy butter.
10 Stir the home-made nut butter into the mushroom mixture, combining well, then transfer to a lined terrine mould, and chill in fridge for a minimum of 2 hours until fully set.
SEREN’S GAME TERRINE
I made this wonderfully hearty dish last year during a cookery theatre session at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool. The demo drew a good Lancashire crowd, who lapped up this simple and rustic dish, which is great for relaxed dining, simple suppers or sumptuous picnics.
200g streaky bacon
2 pheasant breasts
750g belly pork (with the skin removed and the meat chopped to yield 600g)
350g mixed game, diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
6 juniper berries, lightly crushed
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
3 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
150ml red wine
3 tbsp cognac
Butter (to grease the terrine dish)
1 Grease a 1.25-litre terrine dish or tin, then line with a layer of bacon, setting aside a couple of rashers to cover the top of the terrine.
2 Dice any remaining bacon, slice the pheasant breasts, then set aside.
3 Process the belly pork in a food processor (or a mincer, if you prefer a coarser grind), transfer the ground meat to a bowl together with the garlic, juniper berries, herbs, a generous teaspoon of salt, lots of black pepper, and the diced bacon, then pour in the red wine.
4 Mix it all up well with your hands, then cover with cling film and set aside for at least 1 hour to let the flavours develop.
5 Preheat the oven to 150°C, and while the oven is heating up, spoon a layer of the ground meat mixture into the buttered terrine or tin, smoothing the top, then follow with a layer of pheasant and diced game, continuing with alternate layers until the terrine is filled.
6 Arrange the bacon rashers to cover the meat, then stand the terrine/tin in a roasting tin and pour in hot water halfway up the side of the terrine dish.
7 Cook for 2½ hours, until a skewer comes out clean when inserted, with clear juices, and the terrine shrinks slightly away from the edge of the dish or tin.
8 Take the roasting tin out of the oven, put the terrine dish onto a clean baking sheet and leave to cool at room temperature for serving warm with crusty bread, or place in the fridge overnight if you wish to serve it cold (as is traditional), which will make it much easier to slice.
TERRINE DE CAMPAGNE
Nearly every charcuterie in France sells terrine de campagne. It should have quite a coarse texture that you can really get your teeth into – after all, ‘campagne’ means ‘countryside’, so this should have rustic style. This particular recipe involves packing the meat down into the terrine. In charcuterie terms, ‘packing’ involves tightly cramming a terrine with ground spiced meat, spirits, eggs and cream, and then baking it in a water-bath. The baked loaf is then weighted down and refrigerated for a day so that it compacts and develops its full flavour potential.
225g pork liver, cut into chunks small enough to fit into a meat grinder
225g smoked bacon, diced
225g pork shoulder, cut into chunks small enough to fit into a meat grinder
225g veal, finely chopped
½ tbsp black pepper
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 tbsp double cream
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
1 Cook the shallots in butter in a heavy frying pan over a moderately low heat until soft, stirring frequently.
2 Add the garlic and thyme, cook for about 1 minute, stirring frequently, then transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
3 Grind the salt and spices together in a pestle and mortar, add to the shallots along with the chopped fresh parsley, stirring well to combine, then whisk in the cream, eggs, and brandy.
4 Pulse the pork liver in a food processor until finely chopped, then add to the onion mix along with the ground pork, diced bacon and veal, then mix together well with either your hands or a wooden spoon.
5 Place the bay leaf at the bottom of a terrine mould, then line the bottom and the long sides crosswise with 6–9 strips of bacon, arranging them close together (but not overlapping) and leave a 1–3cm overhang.
6 Fill the terrine evenly with the coarse meat mixture, tapping the terrine on the work surface to compact it (it will mound slightly above the edge).
7 Cover the top of the terrine lengthwise with 2–3 more bacon slices (if necessary), to cover completely, then fold the overhanging ends of the bacon over these.
8 Cover the terrine with cling film and chill for at least 8 hours (or overnight) to marinate the meats.
9 After a night of marinating, your terrine is ready to bake. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
10 Discard the cling film and cover the terrine tightly with a double layer of foil.
11 Bake the terrine in a water-bath for up to 2 hours. A skewer, when inserted into the centre, should come out clean – if so, remove from the oven and do not cook any further.
12 Once cooked, remove the foil and let the terrine stand in the mould on a rack for 30 minutes.
13 Place a piece of parchment or wax paper over the top of the terrine, then place a piece of wood or heavy cardboard wrapped in foil on top. Place 2 or 3 food cans on top of the wood (or cardboard) to weight it down, and chill in the tin/dish until completely cold – this takes at least 4 hours.
14 Continue to chill the terrine, with or without the weights, for at least 24 hours to allow the flavours to develop.
15 Run a knife around the inside edge of the terrine and let it stand in the mould in a pan with 2.5cm of hot water (to loosen the bottom) for 2 minutes.
16 Tip the terrine mould (holding the terrine) to drain any excess liquid, then invert a cutting board over the terrine, turning the terrine out onto the cutting board.
17 Carefully wipe the outside of the terrine with a paper towel, then let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Transfer to a platter if desired, and cut as needed.
I hope this article inspires you to create terrines; once you’ve made one, it’s certain it will become a firm family favourite. Bon appétit!