Terrine and country

 

Make like the French and serve up a terrine for lunch. Hugo Arnold shares some favourite recipes.

A slice of terrine makes the perfect lunch. Maybe two slices. I adore the rusticity. The idea that "other parts" of an animal are turned into something so elegantly simple. Think of unctuous pork belly, for example, cooked down slowly so its flavours are drawn out, complemented by juniper, bay, allspice and black pepper. Add some bread and gherkins and what more could you ask for? A bottle of wine, perhaps, but after that all you need is somebody to feast with you.

I was taught to make terrines by Dan Evans, a chef who would often use the skill as a measure of his colleagues. The texture is so important, he would tell me: too loose and everything falls apart, too stiff and it all feels too rubbery. Seasoning is crucial, as all too few novices are aware. And a little marinating works wonders. Spices and alcohol are best; herbs are also good, although using too many diverts attention from the meat.

Getting hold of the right cuts, such as belly and flare fat (which covers the loin and kidneys), can be a challenge. There is not much point in asking your supermarket. You'll need a good old- fashioned butcher. You'll also need a heavy-duty, lidded earthenware terrine to cook with. I'm no fan of unnecessary kitchen equipment, but this is worth the investment, especially as a good one will last decades.

If you aren't convinced of the charms of the cheaper cuts of pork, you can have plenty of fun with other ingredients, such as chicken and fish.

In the meantime, I am happy to line my terrine with pancetta at my kitchen table and spoon in my heady mixture of ground meat, seasoning as I go. All I need then is some crusty bread. And some cornichons.

Each recipe will make a terrine to serve 10-12 people. If you wrap the terrine in cling film it should last at least a week in the fridge.

ROUGH COUNTRY TERRINE

This is based on a recipe in Jane Grigson's Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery, a book that has not been bettered.

700g boned shoulder of pork

75g minced steak

225g flare fat

225g belly of pork

glass dry white wine

75ml Calvados

pinch of nutmeg, mace, crushed juniper berries

1 tbsp finely chopped parsley

3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

bunch thyme, picked

225g onions, peeled and finely chopped

75g butter

1 egg, lightly beaten

225g streaky bacon

Chop all the meat (apart from the streaky bacon) finely and combine with the white wine, Calvados, spices, parsley, garlic and thyme. Set aside overnight. Gently saute the onions in the butter without letting them colour. Remove from the heat and add to the meat, along with the egg. Mix well and season generously.

Line a terrine with the streaky bacon, allowing it to overhang the sides. Spoon in the mixture and press it firmly into the terrine. Fold the streaky bacon over the top, cover with tin foil and put the lid on.

Put the terrine in a large pan of hot water so it comes halfway up the sides. Bake in a low oven - 170 degrees/gas three - for between 90 minutes and two hours. The terrine is cooked when it floats in its own fat and a skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool for an hour, then weigh down with tins of tomatoes, or similar. Allow it to cool completely, turn out, wrap in foil or cling film and refrigerate for at least a day, to allow the flavours to mingle. Serve with good bread, cornichons and wine.

PRESSED TERRINE OF SKATE AND CARROT WITH GREEN SAUCE

1kg carrots

2kg skate

3 bay leaves

2 sprigs rosemary

6 black peppercorns

10 cornichons or gherkins

2 tsp capers

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp chopped shallots

olive oil

lemon juice

Trim the carrots and slice lengthways (using a mandolin is by far the easiest and most consistent way to do this). Cook them in boiling salted water until tender, which should take only a few minutes. Poach the skate in simmering salted water infused with the bay, rosemary and peppercorns.

Line a terrine with cling film (this is easier if you rinse the terrine first, so the film sticks to the surface). Layer the carrots and skate until you have used them all up. Season each layer as you go. Fold the cling film over the top, weigh down the mixture with two or three tins, or similar weights, and refrigerate overnight.

Roughly chop the cornichons and combine with the capers, mustard, shallots and enough olive oil to make a loose sauce. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper and serve with slices of the terrine.

PRESSED CHICKEN TERRINE WITH FRESH TOMATO RELISH

The following recipes comes from one of my culinary heroes, Alastair Little

outer leaves of savoy cabbage or kale

8 chicken breasts, preferably organic

8 slices Parma ham

170g butter, chilled

6 plum tomatoes

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 130 degrees/gas one. After removing the stalks, blanch the cabbage leaves in boiling salted water for two or three minutes. Refresh them in cold water. Place the chicken breasts between sheets of cling film and bash flat using a cleaver or similar. Line a terrine with cabbage leaves, then put in a layer of chicken. Season it with salt and pepper, then lay on two slices of Parma ham. Add slices of butter, season again and repeat with a layer of chicken until you have used everything up. Fold the cabbage over the top and cover with foil. Poach in a bain-marie in the preheated oven for 90 minutes. Insert a metal skewer. When you take it out it should feel hot if you put it just below your lower lip. (Take care!) Remove the terrine from the oven and allow it to cool for an hour. Then weigh it down with tins and set it aside to cool completely. Refrigerate.

Deseed and dice the tomatoes; combine with the vinegar, salt and pepper and a liberal douse of olive oil. Serve with slices of the terrine and bread.