Buongiorno, bonjour and “g’day”! (don't you like how they're all the same thing? ~ who knew Australian vernacular was so cosmopolitan???).

Also, "a good day to you, sir/maam" for our American pals, "Ni Hao" to China, and "Здравствуй" to our Russian comrades, "etcetera etcetera and so forth"... (for Yul Brynner).

It’s your old pal Kit (Christof) Fennessy here. I've been writing this blog with your help for ten years, and there's over a hundred and fifty recipes, restaurant reviews of Australia and around the world, and general gourmet articles in these pages for you to fritter away your idle hours on.

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Now, what's on the bill of fare today?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Means Terrines

For me anyway.

Since discovering few enjoy seafood as much as I on Christmas day, and also considering how we’re not officially allowed to give each other presents since the institution of Kris Kringle, I’ve hit upon a brilliant work around for both.  Making terrines. Bring one for lunch entree, and give people slices to take away with them at the end of the day.

Fussy eaters?  Tell them it's like a sausage roll without the pastry.

Simple, delicious, and unbelievably tasty, your doctor will be doing three sixties in her grave about the cholesterol you’re subjecting your body to.  But you can use for picnics, enjoy with a light red wine, and accompany these recipes with a crusty baguette, sour pickled cherries and of course the inestimable yet humble cornichon (you might also like to have young radishes whole as a side dish, to be eaten with cold butter and a sprinkle of salt flakes on top - fantastic).

Here are two excellent terrine recipes.

The first if from my old standby, StephanieAlexander.  I’ve made this recipe many times, while still lining a couple of lasagne dishes (small ones) with oil and prosciutto rather than a stomach caul (yech!).

For those wondering where (oh where) you can buy all these ingredients, can I direct you to any reputable Vietnamese butcher?  As usual, heavily influenced by the French occupation, they have the fat and various minces and livers you need – all at extremely reasonable prices.
You could end up making these for pocket change.

Caution: while pressing these with bricks, as they cool, you may drive a family pet insane.  Our dog Flippet T Whippet, doing a berzerker one year at home by himself locked in with the terrines, found he couldn’t reach them, so ate an entire packet of scorched almonds in revenge (he is OK, thanks for asking).

Country Terrine

250 g chicken livers
40 g butter
1 small chopped onion
1 thick slice wholemeal or sourdough bread, crusts removed
500 g minced fatty pork (shoulder, neck or belly)
250 g minced skinless poultry or rabbit
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
sprig thyme, leaves stripped from stalk
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground all spice
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
3 eggs
50 ml brandy
1 bay leaf

Preheat oven to 180C.  Cook livers quickly in half the butter until just stiffened, then remove and cut into chunks.  Add remaining butter and stew onion until soft. Process bread in a food processor to form crumbs. Mix all ingredients except bay leaf very well and pack into a 1.5 litre earthenware or cast iron terrine mould. Mound slightly and press bay leaf on top, then cover with terrine lid. Stand terrine in a baking dish and pour in water to halfway up sides of mould. Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out hot when you touch it to your bottom lip. Place a light weight on the terrine itself when it comes out of the oven and allow to cool overnight.
Serve with cornichon and toast.

Lined terrines: It is traditional to line a terrine mould with either thin strips of hard back fat, caul or bacon. It makes the pressed terrine easier to cut.

Tricks:  fry a teaspoon of the raw terrine mixture to check the seasoning — remember you need more salt/flavour when food is cold.  You can layer the terrine with strips of rabbit, duck or pork.  

Reflecting how nice this is, but that some people balk at the thought of eating livers in any shape or form, find a chicken, pistachio and cranberry terrine recipe below highly rated through Taste magazine.  This one appears with half the amounts they suggest, and is thoroughly Christmassy (especially with the cranberries, I mean, "Come on!").

Chicken Terrine with Cranberries and Pistachios

15 slices flat pancetta (see note) or thin bacon
rashers, rind removed
500g each pork and chicken mince
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup (65ml) brandy
2 small eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup unsalted pistachio kernels
1 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup (75g) dried cranberries

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a loaf pan. Line the pan with the pancetta or bacon , slightly overlapping the slices and leaving enough overhanging the edges to cover the top.
2. Place all the remaining ingredients in a bowl with 2 teaspoons of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper, then mix together with your hands until well combined. Pack the mixture into the terrine, pressing down well. Cover with overhanging pancetta, then cover the top with baking paper and seal well with foil.
Place terrine in a roasting pan and fill pan with enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the terrine. Cook in the oven for 1 hour 30 minutes, then remove terrine from the roasting pan and allow to cool.
3. Cut a piece of cardboard to fit the top of the terrine, then place on top and weigh down with cans or a foil-covered brick and refrigerate overnight.

4. When ready to serve, turn the terrine out onto a platter or board and slice thickly.