I do love a good terrine. Simple and sophisticated, they have flavour and texture and if animal based generously give a lovely meaty mouthful. The melding of elements make a whole greater than the individual bits, and the very best examples have one or two sublte surprises included for extra joy.
For a long time now I have eaten at the Anchor & Hope at Waterloo, gastro pub extraordinaire. I have never had a single bad meal there, I have never been disappointed, which never ceases to amaze me. One of the things I have ordered and enjoyed consistently is the terrine - rich and delicate at the same time, it was easy to recognise the pork and the liver, the hit of garlic and the lovely savoury notes of thyme. There were other bits, like the occasional slippery fruity strand that I had more trouble identifying, could have been prune but it wasn't, could have been vegetable but sweet? Marinated raisin - maybe but not.
Head chef at the A&H for a long time was a woman called Trish Hilferty who had come there, via The Fox from the original London gastropub, The Eagle. Difficult to get a better pedigree than that. Recently, to my delight, Ms Hilferty set up on her own at the Canton Arms, a pub a mere 5 minute walk from us. Five minutes! It was a little uncertain to start, slightly uneven, but interesting. The first Sunday we had lunch there I think was the best roast chicken dinner I have ever eaten. It was sublime. The pub was also half empty so we were happy to stay in the bar for lunch perusing the papers, having a blissfully perfect version of Sunday. It has become very well known since, and sadly is so incredibly busy you must eat only in the restaurant should you be lucky enough to score a table. No bookings means wait and see - and we do.
So imagine my delight the other day when, perusing the cookery shelves of Book Warehouse, I found a book called Gastropub Classics Cookbook, written by none other than Trish Hilferty. I flicked IMMEDIATELY to the Starters chapter and found this recipe for terrine.
Couldn't wait to make it, couldn't wait to share.
Pork And Chicken Liver Terrine
Makes a one kilo loaf - serves 10
Very simple to make though not quick, this makes an elegant starter or an impressive centrepiece for a cold buffet. We ate it for lunches through the week, with a seedy crispbread and a crispy salad of fennel, carrot and celery. Perfect for the two of us.
1 small onion, finely diced
200ml red wine
6-8 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
750g pork mince
200g chicken livers, trimmed of connecting bits
1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
3 tbspn brandy or Madeira
1 tspn fresh thyme leaves
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
Put the diced onion into a small saucepan and pour over the red wine. Place the pan over a lowish heat and simmer until all the wine has evaporated and the flavour has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Use the bacon to line a 1 - 1.2litre terrine dish or loaf tin, arranging them crossways with the edges hanging over the sides. Put all the remaining ingredients, including the cooled onion, into a large bowl and mix really well. Use your hands - it squishes very satisfyingly indeed. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Squash the mixture into the lined terrine, fold over the hanging ends of bacon and cover with a lid or foil. Trish Hilferty then places it into a roasting pan of hot water and bakes it at 160C/325F/Gas 3 for 1 - 1 1/2 hours. I covered mine with foil and steamed it at 100C for 90 minutes for a perfectly rich moist result.
To test whether the terrine is cooked, pierce it with a skewer; it should come out hot and the juices should run clear. Drain any collected juice from the tin. ( I added the porky/livery essence to a beef stew to wonderful effect).
Let the terrine cool for ten minutes, then weight it down. (I didn't do this) Refrigerate overnight. To serve, turn it out of the tin and cut into lovely thick slices.
At last I know what the lovely slippy threads are - finel bits of onion cooked in red wine. Great trick!