In a moment of over-zealous Christmas jollity, a last-minute festive feast was planned, friends were invited, crockery searched out, rugs shook, candles borrowed, firewood cut, a Christmas Tree erected. Long debates necessarily ensued over the menu, how to seat and feed such numbers, more to the point, on what… So it was that we settled on a variety of cold Terrines, and on Boxing Day, while others slept off their Christmas indulgence, banqueted languorously on cold cuts, on Tongue and the previous day’s Plum Pudding, or set themselves up for a serious bout of telly-watching, we mopped our brows and set to concocting Terrines.
Now, it has to be said that a Terrine, like a Chutney, improves with age. If covered with Goose fat, or clarified butter, it can happily last a week, longer even. Time however, had pressed us to last minute structuring, and I have to say these seemed none the worse off for having sat a mere twenty-four hours. Both of us claiming to be experts, and each distrusting the other’s method, cookery books – Elizabeth David, Constance Spry, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – were heavily consulted. Eventually we took ideas from all, a hefty pinch of common sense, of foody inspiration and adoration… and the recipe that follows is what we came up with.
Before I begin however, two things: Firstly, a Terrine is simply a Pâté, made in a terrine dish. Once you have the method you can adulterate it as you wish, adding and removing ingredients according to preference or what is available. That said, I have known a Terrine to fall apart, so I do suggest having at least equal quantities of farce to chopped meat. Secondly, in a burst of immodesty, I have to say these were the best Terrines I have ever eaten, not only did they look sublime, but the flavourings, the texture, the moistness, all combined to make them taste utterly heavenly, and quite worthy of French charcuterie… Whether this is repeatable simply by following a recipe, I don’t know – but do have a go, and do let me know.
The following should fill three two pint Terrine dishes.
For the Farce:
2lb Sausage Meat
½ lb Pheasant Livers
6 Dried Figs
6 Dried Apricots
15 Juniper Berries
2 Blades Mace
1 tea-cup White Wine
Chop the Pheasant Livers; Roast the Chestnuts;
Soak the chopped Figs and Apricots
The Farce is literally the stuffing, it holds the Terrine together. To make it, first chop the Pheasant (or Chicken) Livers very small, keeping any blood; Roast the Chestnuts and peel them, breaking them into small bits; Soak the chopped Figs and Apricots in hot water; Crush the herbs and spices (to taste). Then mix all ingredients, including the blood from the Pheasant Livers. Season with Black Pepper. If you find you want to further moisten the mixture, you can use the water the fruit soaked in. If you want to dry it or bulk it out, use stale Breadcrumbs or Oatmeal.
Crush the herbs and spices
For one Venison Terrine, one Pheasant Terrine, one Venison and Pheasant Terrine:
1 ½ lb Pheasant meat
1 ½ lb Venison
21b streaky Bacon
Thus using about 1lb of meat in each Terrine. The meat should be in pieces, but chopped thinly so it can be lain in layers through the Terrine. Stretch the Bacon on a chopping board using the back of a knife. Any Bacon Fat or bits that break off can be added to the Farce. Line Terrine dishes, or Loaf Tins with the Bacon, leaving enough so it can fold over the top and wrap around the whole Terrine. You can place Bay Leaves or other Herbs in the base, these will produce a pattern when the Terrine is turned out.
Line Terrine dishes with Bacon
Now layer Farce, followed by meat in thin layers, to fill the Terrine. Aim to commence and finish with Farce, so that the Terrine holds together. In the Venison Terrine I added a layer of Bar-Le-Duc Redcurrant Jelly, made this Summer, after the Meat, this added a tart sweetness to the Terrine.
Finally the Bacon is wrapped around, tucked in and the Terrines are covered and cooked for 1 ½ to 2 hours in a Bain-Marie at 160-180C until firm, shrunken from the sides, the juices running clear when a knife is stuck in.
Any juices will eventually form a jelly when the Terrine cools. If you are fortunate this might even enrobe the sides and top of the Terrine when turned out and provide a delicious glaze – ours slipped off. The Terrines are then left, pressed under a weight to finalise the togetherness of the Terrine and to create a flat base for when they are turned out. Leave for up to three days, or, if longer cover with a fat, or freeze. Turn them out prior to serving using a butter knife to slip around the edges.
When sliced, all the layers of meat and farce, as well as the fruits and nuts become apparent:
...to follow: the entire feast.