Monday, 23 November 2009

Terrine for 90

"There is nothing more practical than having a terrine of coarse, garlic seasoned paté around", so says Nigel Slater. I couldn't agree more, although I would also add that, likewise, there is nothing more satisfying as casually grazing on it, a slice or two at a time for the following few days, as it awaits you readily in the fridge. Sometimes balanced on the corner of crisp, wafer thin toast. Sometimes, spread firmly into softest part of hunk of french bread. Sometimes guiltily eaten in front of the fridge, straight from the knife with which it was cut.

Nigel's comment was made in the context of terrine being a fail safe staple to have on hand during the Christmas period, and when I first saw his recipe for a coarse paté in the Observer, it immediately made it's way onto that year's Christmas day menu. It was a precursor to our home-butchered five-bird roast, none the less, which meant that in our terrine we were able to include the hearts, livers, kidneys and other offally bits of goose, duck, corn-fed chicken, partridge and wood cock.

Fast forward almost two years, and I'm fishing the recipe out of my scrap book again in preparation for the impending 92-cover meal that is to be prepared for the final Rebel Dining Society dinner of the year...

This time around, the recipe was adapted with the addition of venison, duck, grouse and rabbit, to add a gamey robustness to the smooth, slightly sweet pork belly that makes up the bulk of the mixture. Whilst it was a November event, there was also a nod to forthcoming festivities, with the inclusion of brandy-soaked cranberries, to counteract the sharp green pepper corns.
As well as toast, what you really need with a paté or terrine is something fruity to balance the rich meaty flavours. Different textures are also a welcome addition. Ours was served with a super-smooth plum puree, spiced up with ginger and star anise, and crunchy 'remoulade' of autumn apples and pears.

The recipe below is based on Nigel Slater's, although thankfully my calculations in rounding up the quantities to feed 90 instead of nine-ish yielded some leftovers... So I still got to do some casual grazing after the event; On toast, in a baguette, and - I admit - straight from the fridge.

(Thanks to Sophia for the photograph... There are plenty more here)

Pork and Game Terrine

Serves 8 or more

a medium onion
2 large cloves garlic
a thick slice of butter, about 30g
400g minced pork belly
300g pig's liver
200g mixed game - any combination of venison, hare, partridge, etc - chopped into small, irregular pieces
a large handful of fresh white breadcrumbs
two handfuls dried cranberries, soaked overnight in few tbsps brandy
the leaves from a bushy sprig of thyme
a tbsp bottled green peppercorns, rinsed
a tsp ground mace
15-20 bacon rashers
bay leaves

Preheat an oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic. Melt the butter then cook the onion and garlic until soft and translucent. Add the minced pork, game and liver, breadcrumbs, juniper berries, thyme, green peppercorns, mace, vermouth and brandy. Season generously with salt and ground black pepper - a good teaspoon of each. Stir thoroughly.

Line a 1.5 litre terrine with the bacon rashers, then fill with the mixture. Push it down and wrap the bacon rashers over the top, filling any gaps where necessary. Add bay leaves or juniper berries if you wish. Cover with a lid of greaseproof paper and foil then place in a deep roasting tin and pour in enough water to come halfway up the side of the terrine.

Put terrine into the oven and leave for 1½ hours. Test with a skewer for doneness. It is cooked when the skewer comes out hot (rather than just warm). Remove carefully from the oven (the hot water is easy to tip over). Leave to cool overnight before eating, and serve with melba toast.

Plum Puree

Enough for a smallish jar

8 - 10 plums
a slender piece of ginger, about half the size of a thumb, cut into slices
2 star anice
the juice of one lemon
100g dark muscavado sugar
50g caster sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Put all ingredients in a sauce pan on a medium heat, and stir for a couple of minutes whilst the sugar dissolves. Bring up to a light simmer, and then cook for another 10 minutes or so, until the plums have softened almost to a pulp. Check the flavour, and feel free to add more lemon juice, sugar or balsamic, depending on your tastes.

Remove from the heat, and pass through a sieve, by pressing down on the mixture with the back of a spoon. Discard the skins, star anice and ginger as you go (although, if you’re anything like me, then you won’t be able to resist sucking the plum-covered slivers of ginger as you come across them).

If you’re keeping the puree for a later date, then transfer to a clean jar, or alternatively dig in as soon as it’s cooled a little.

Pear and Apple ‘Remoulade'

Enough for 8 as an accompaniment

2-3 russett apples
2 ripe pears
a small bunch parsley
a few strands of chive
a few sprigs of chervil
a few sprigs of dill
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp Dijon mustard
the juice of two lemons
a splash of water
Salt and pepper

Finely chop the herbs. Slice the apples and pears as finely as you can, use a mandolin if you have one. Sprinkle them with plenty of lemon juice as you go to ensure they don’t discolour.

Whisk the mayonnaise, mustard, remaining lemon juice, water and seasoning together in a large bowl. It should be the consistency of single cream. If need be, add a little more water or lemon juice; The dressing should be sharp. Toss the apples, pears and herbs in the dressing and serve immediately.

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