I always regarded a terrine as something that was made by snooty French chefs. These artistes would not bare the thought of an Englishman taking on, nay even attempting something as sophisticated as the art of terrine making. In reality a terrine is fairly simple and has been a staple of British farmhouses for years. So if you fancy something very tasty and an imaginary one fingered salute to our cousins over the pond, set aside a little time and get stuck in!
The name ‘Terrine’ comes from the authentic earthenware dish in which a terrine is cooked. Nowadays they come in metal too. Traditionally, a terrine is a rougher version of a pate with pieces of meat integrated along with livers and sausage meat…not a million miles from a meatloaf. If I were writing this in November I would be making this with game, there is no better place for pigeon, rabbit and pheasant to come together along with their livers and tingle the taste buds. But as it is high summer and scarcely any game is knocking about, chicken is always readily available along with their livers and will just have to suffice.
A terrine can be a truly wonderful thing, best for starters if you have a few friends for supper or pack it up with some homemade bread and become the envy of your workmates at lunch! Even as gifts the terrine comes into its own, I must admit when I did my placements at Olive & Good Food magazine they were gratefully received and gone in a matter of minutes. I definitely try to make one at least once a month, each one following this recipe but in true gastronomic guerrilla fashion I like to tweak the ingredients slightly. Once employing gherkins (a typical accompliment to this dish) as a would-be ingredient, I feel it worked perfectly…but not everyone likes gherkins…crazy folk! The key is to mix and match and I will continue to do so until I find the one that really cuts the mustard, but until then this recipe will certainly fill that void.
As Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall describes the terrine ‘its like building a wall, all you need is bricks and mortar.’ And I quite agree. To make a terrine the dish needed must be about the size and dimensions of a normal brick. The best bit about this recipe is all essential flavourings including the sorrel come out of the garden. The ingredients are as follows:
• 2 chicken breasts
• 300g of streaky bacon (to line the tin)
• 500g of sausage meat (or a pack of good sausages split and cleaned out)
• 175g of chicken livers finely chopped
• 1 egg
• 2 handfuls of breadcrumbs
• 2 tbsp of capers
• 1 handful of small sorrel leaves
• 2 finely chopped garlic cloves
• Thyme, sage, parsley finely chopped, about ½ a cupful
• Splash of white wine
• Splash of whisky or brandy
• Salt and pepper
First of all cut your chicken breasts into thin strips and fry them till browned with a little seasoning. Remove from heat and leave to cool. Preheat the oven to 170C/gas mark 3
For the forcemeat (which consists of everything else apart from the bacon and the sorrel) mix in a bowl till everything is combined. Next comes the architectural part!
Get your streaky bacon and line the tin with both packs so it overlaps and hangs over the side of the tin. First to go in is a layer of forcemeat, followed by a layer of chicken. Next lay the sorrel over the chicken so when cooked a thin seam will be visible once sliced. Another layer of forcemeat and then chicken followed by a final layer of forcemeat on the top. Once all the forcemeat and chicken have been used up, fold over the bacon at either end of the tin and then the sides. For a final flourish a few bay leaves laid on top can make for good presentation although this is not necessary.
Cover the tin with foil and place in a roasting tin half filled with warm water, put it on the middle shelf of your oven for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Test with a skewer to see if it is ready, if it comes out very hot it is ready, if not give it a bit longer. Once out of the oven stick a brick or something of similar weight on top to compress the terrine and then leave to cool overnight if possible.
There you have it! A chicken terrine. I like to bake some bread to give my guests a genuine homemade experience. Serve with nice crusty bread, butter and some chutney or even a little mustard and of course the mighty gherkin. Personally I like to have it with a few fresh salad leaves and a little horseradish, but that’s because I LOVE horseradish.
I would urge you (as I so often do!) to have a go at creating a terrine as soon as possible, if not now wait a few months and once the shooting season begins have a word with a regular gun on a shoot and try to secure a couple of birds. There really is nothing more satisfying than bringing a terrine to the table and the first slice will ensure you will be making these till the cows come home…and if they do why not chop them up and add them to the mix?