Terrine defrosts with impact

So craving meat, we decided to start with a terrine salad – before the half dozen sardines to share. This was no more complicated than remembering to take a two-slice pack out of the deep freeze where it had lain for a week or so.
It’s original purpose had been to provide a starter for guests (one of whom turned out not to eat meat, alongside another who wouldn’t be able to eat it because of the fat content – hey, ho such is home catering.) It was prepared as a special treat for the partner of the low-fat guest since he, gamely and for his own health, usually stuck with the house rules. So a good one was required.
We happened to have a liver from the last dead pig so the other meat required was a good 600 grams of minced pork (organic and almost no fat) from the butcher. The technique is simple, but likely to be gory for some. This suits a large – 14 inches or so – terrine.
You need a Magimix or similar to avoid too much chopping. Start with the fresh breadcrumbs: as usual you get out what you put in so nice sourdough or decent brown organic with a bit of rough stuff is good. You need a good couple of handfuls of roughish, not fine crumbs. Then blitz a load of fresh herbs – parsley and sage are pretty essential. If you like crunchy bits why not stick a few whole pepper corns in for zapping too? I don’t think you can really overdo the herbs ….
In a large bowl really mix the minced meat, crumbs and herby seasoning together: at this point using hands is definitely best.
Back to the Magimix – which you don’t need to have cleaned if you are doing things in this order – in which we are going to chop the liver, unless that is you want to do it by hand. For the machine, you need to have removed all the obviously unnecessary bits and cut the liver into big chunks. Then, using the zap (or pulse) button chop the liver. If you end up being too energetic and are left with a mush, don’t worry.
Mix liver into meat (spatula for me at this point) add one whole egg and a glug of something alcoholic – red wine, Marsala, Port all work. If you have some, a tablespoon or good glug of cognac is good too. We need a pretty moist, but not sloppy consistency. Season aggressively. If you want to check the seasoning take a teaspoonful of the mix and quickly fry a little ball in a non stick fry pan – and taste.
Now prep your terrine: you need a good quantity of rindless (saves a lot of work) streaky bacon, unsmoked. I use a rolling pin to spread it out – a meat basher does the job too if you have one. You need to line the dish so that you have enough hanging over bits of bacon to cover the top when it’s filled.
Pile about half of the meat mix into the baconed terrine. Then add a layer of goodies – this is what make it so interesting to eat, and pretty to look at when sliced. For this particular one I used a roasted Guinea Fowl – laying long shreds in the centre of the dish. Then a good sprinkling of pine nuts (lightly toasted if you have time) chopped nuts, whatever. Some chunky strips of ham covered everything. We’re putting in texture, contrast and eye candy here.
Pile the rest of the meat on top making sure it envelopes the middle layer of extras, pull all the bacon slices over it, put half a dozen bay leaves prettily on the top and it’s done. It needs a baine marie (big baking pan/dish half filled with boiling water) and a slowish cook, medium oven for a couple of hours covered with foil. If the skewer comes out clean it’s done.
As soon as it’s cool enough to handle, fold the foil into a shape that neatly fits the top of your dish. Then precariously balance tins along the whole length – you want as much weight as you can to compress the terrine while it cools.
When cold (probably overnight) put in fridge and try to resist eating for at least 24 hours. There’s an important cooking technicality called ‘festering’ and it applies to curries, terrines, and even some cakes.
For the first serving (this has made at least ten portions!) cheat by carefully removing the whole terrine from its dish – discarding the jelly that will have collected if you have fat sensitive friends like me (oh happy dog!) and with a very sharp knife cut the slices you need, putting the rest back into the now cleaned dish. You get an ‘Ooh Aah’ factor from the luscious slice on its plate with a few leaves and, yes a fanned gherkin (posh Cornichons in a separate dish please).
Leftovers, slice, pack in pairs with kitchen paper in between, and freeze in bags. Defrost naturally and they’re just as scrummy as the day they were made.
This is not a dish for the fainted hearted, either in making or eating. Yep, real meat.