Saturday 24 November 2007
Recipe: Chicken Liver Terrine
This is definitely a recipe for this time of year - partly because of its hearty-trencherman-fare-keeping-out-the-cold quality, and partly because we're approaching the period when suddenly you find you have an extra three or four (or five or six) bodies for lunch or dinner, especially during that ramshackle period between Christmas and the New Year, when a rather more ad-hoc approach to meals becomes the order of the day, and a terrine of this kind in the fridge will definitely come in handy. I know it seems ridiculously early to be mentioning Christmas, but in fact this is a dish which should be kept for at least two weeks before being eaten, and is fine at three and even four weeks, too. I suspect it would last even longer, if necessary, but I've never been in a position to find out - over time, the flavours strengthen, and as the terrine dehydrates, it becomes firmer and therefore easier to serve. Whenever I come across them, I read with derision the cautious comments from Health and Safety 'experts' that a terrine can be kept for several days .......with clearly no knowledge whatsoever that in in the past, the whole purpose of this kind of dish was specifically in order to be able to feed off it during the winter months; it falls within the same category effectively as dried sausage and cured ham...(which is a whole different story, and one for another day)
Ingredients: 7 tablespoons Cognac; 3 tablespoons Port; 3 tablespoons Sherry; 2 cloves Garlic, minced; half a Cup of finely chopped fresh Parsley; 1 level teaspoon of dried Thyme; 1 pinch of Nutmeg; 1 level teaspoon of Sugar; 2 heaped teaspoons of Salt; a dozen grinds of Pepper from the mill; 500g Chicken Livers, roughly cut up (check to see that there are no 'green' bits that need to be removed - but frankly, I can't remember the last time I had to do this, given the quality of livers now generally sold); 200g Pork, cut into 1cm x 2 cm dice (you can use either Pork belly for this, or a Pork Steak or piece of loin - whatever is most readily available); 200g minced Pork or Veal; 200g rindless Bacon, for lining the terrine mould (or I use slices of Pancetta for this, if I'm making it in Italy).
1. Combine Cognac, Port, Sherry, Garlic, Parsley, Thyme, Nutmeg, Sugar, Salt and Pepper in a large bowl. Add Chicken Livers, diced Pork and Sausage meat, and stir with a fork to mix thoroughly. (At this stage, Michel Guérard, whose recipe this was before I mucked around with it for my own purposes, would have you let everything stand for at least 24 hours before proceeding. I see no point in this: if you are leaving the terrine for a week or so before eating it, the flavours will mingle perfectly at that stage, when the texture of the terrine is also sorting itself out).
2. Line the terrine mould* with slices of Bacon or Pancetta, making sure you leave enough over to be able to cover the top of the terrine once all the ingredients have been added.
3. Fill the prepared mould with the Meat mixture, then cover the top with the remaining slices of Bacon or Pancetta. Bake in a bain marie, in a 220 degree C oven, for one and a half hours, uncovered. The top will become a deep crispy brown, and the smell as it cooks will fill the entire house!
* Although for years I've lusted after one of those porcelain terrines with a lid, none has ever actually come my way, and generally, I've made do with a succession of loaf tins for this purpose; recently I graduated to a Le Creuset silicone terrine mould, which worked wonderfully until I stupidly managed to put the tip of a knife through the side of it. It has since been replaced.....but take note of the fragility of this particular piece of kit!