VENISON and LIVER COUNTRY PATE
Before we get started, the picture above is a pate en croute. This recipe is for a traditional country pate. My family requested the "en croute" for the Holidays, so I kindly obliged.
A lot of folks are intimidated or put off by charcuterie just by the fact that it's seemingly hard to pronounce. And a lot of the time "hard to pronounce words" in the food world can sometimes mean "fancy". But in fact, the craft of charcuterie has been around since about the 15th century. It was a way to use every last bit of an animal in a crafty way.
In this recipe, we're going to be making a classic terrine that is great for beginners. And if you like to keep things as they were, it doesn't get much more traditional than a country style terrine. I use venison in this recipe in place of pork, which is usually used. But you have to add pork fat to the venison grind, or it will be dry and unpalatable. There's also a little liver worked into the mixture. It's not an overwhelming amount, just a bit to give some depth of flavor to the terrine.
Terrines can sometimes look like they are hard to make, but this terrine is technically just a big loaf of sausage. So if you are pretty decent at making sausages, you shouldn't have any trouble making a terrine.
The foundation of all wild game terrines will always be whats called a "forcemeat" or "farce", which basically means pureed or ground meat.
There are four different styles of foremeats that you will see me referring to on this site: straight, country, gratin and mousseline. In this recipe we will be using the country style method.
Below is a bit of a tutorial on how to make terrine. If you're already familiar with this, just skip to the recipe below.
Lets get started!
What is a forcemeat?: A forcemeat is a meat and fat emulsion that is established when the ingredients are processed together by grinding, pureeing or sieving. It should not just be a mixture, but a true emulsion so that when it is sliced, it will hold its shape and not fall apart on you.
SALT AND SEASONINGS: As with all cooking, salt plays a major role when making straight forcemeat terrines. Salt draws out the proteins in the meat, which help you achieve the primary bind and adds another depth of flavor. Seasoning and marinating do exactly what you'd expect, they both enhance the flavor as well. This can come in the form of grain based spirits, herbs, vegetables, and wine.
SECONDARY BINDERS: The proteins in meat are the first level of structure and bind for forcemeats. There are cases where you need to add a secondary binder to help things setup a little better. These are usually made up of either eggs, nonfat milk powder and panadas. Panadas are made from either cooked potatoes or rice, bread soaked in milk or a paste made up of some combination of flour, water, cream, butter and eggs.
NOW HOW TO MAKE THE COUNTRY TERRINE
Chill your ingredients and equipment
Having your ingredients and equipment very cold is paramount when making a forcemeat. Having these cold plays a few major roles. It reduces the chance of a food-borne illness, insures that the fat won't melt and destroy your forcemeat, it also provides a better flavor to the finished product. So chill your grinder attachments in the freezer for about an hour to be on the safe-side. You'll also want to chill any bowls that you may be using throughout the process.
The number one piece of kitchen equipment for a country style terrine is your meat grinder. For this terrine we will be using a 1/8 inch/3 millimeter die.
Once ground, its time to process the meat with any other ingredients that you are using. Processing helps develop the myosin and gives the meat a slightly tacky texture, which in turn gives the meat a better bind. You will be using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment here.
Testing your forcemeat
It's always a good idea to test your forcemeats before cooking the final product. You can do this by taking about a heaping tablespoon of the mixture, wrapping it in plastic wrap and poaching it in water that's around 170 degrees F. This won't give you the exact flavor and texture of your final terrine, but it will be pretty close. You can also cook a small bit in a pan as well.
Remember that you will more than likely be serving the terrine cold and cold food needs a little more salt than hot food . If your forcemeat tastes just right while its hot, add in a touch more salt. You should also add in any other seasonings that you think it needs, because once it goes into the oven, its too late!
Once you have the seasoning to your liking, now is the time to add in any garnishes that you may want. This could be dried fruits, toasted nuts, herbs or use it as a way to sneak in odd bits such as a braised venison tongue cut into a small dice.
Types of Cooking Vessels
There are a number of cooking vessels that you can use to cook your terrines in. You can use anything from Pyrex loaf pans, your grandma's old meatloaf pans, or actual pans that are dedicated to making terrines. The dedicated terrine pans are usually made of enameled cast-iron, stoneware, stainless steel or even non-stick coated pans. The shapes of the vessels can vary as well, but that is mainly for the visual aspect. The main thing that you need to worry about is that it is sturdy and not oversized.
Making Your Terrine
Prep your terrine vessel by lining it with plastic wrap. The plastic wrap makes it easier to remove the meat before serving. The plastic should overhang the vessel enough so that when its filled, the forcemeat can be completely covered.
Fill the terrine mold with your forcemeat. Use a rubber spatula to work the mixture into the crevices of the vessel tightly. Fold the overhanging plastic wrap over the forcemeat so that it is completely covered. Tap the vessel onto the counter-top a few times to get rid of any air pockets. Cover the terrine with either aluminum foil or a lid if one came with your vessel.
Cook the terrine gently in a water-bath. In order to keep the terrines fat from separating, it should be cooked gently. Place your terrine vessel into a high-sided roasting pan and pour in enough hot water so that it covers around three-quarters of the vessel. Now place it into a oven that has been pre-heated to 300 degrees F.
Cook the terrine to the appropriate internal temperature. Most terrines take anywhere from just under an hour to 90 minutes to cook. But to be safe, check the internal temperature of the terrine with an instant-read thermometer. Generally pork is cooked to 150 degrees F and birds to 160 degrees F. Remember that there will be some carry-over cooking after it is removed from the oven. This means that the temperatures can rise anywhere from five to fifteen degrees.
Chill, press and refrigerate your terrine. Remove the terrine from the water-bath and let it cool to room temperature. The terrine should now be pressed to ensure that it has the proper density. I'm sure you don't have a terrine press plate laying around, but its easy to make your own. Simply cut a thick piece of cardboard, wood or plastic to the inside dimensions of the vessel and wrap it in foil. Now set something that's around 2 pounds on top of the terrine to press it down. A brick turned on its side works perfectly. Lastly, refrigerate the terrine overnight or at least 8 hours before serving. This allows the flavors to mature and makes for easier slicing.
Now its time to serve! The key point to remember is to use a very sharp non-serrated knife. A meat slicing knife works best. Unwrap your terrine and cut into slices that are anywhere from a 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick. Most terrines are best served with crusty bread, crackers, assorted mustard's, cheeses, pickles, chutneys and vinaigrette's.
22 1/2 ounces - boneless venison (sinew and fat removed)
9 1/2 ounces - pork fat, diced
4 ounces venison liver, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup - chopped onion
1 1/2 tablespoons - garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon - homemade wild game spice blend (optional) (see the ingredients at the bottom of the page)
1 teaspoon - ground black pepper
2 tablespoons - kosher salt
2 tablespoons - all purpose flour
1/2 cup - heavy cream
2 tablespoons - brandy
1/2 cup - smoked ham, diced (optional)
1/2 cup - roasted chestnuts (optional)
Place the water bath in the oven (or place the pan in the oven and pour in the water).
Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Grind the venison and the pork fatback into the bowl of an electric stand mixer that is sitting in an ice bath.
Scoop out 1/3 of the ground venison mixture and place it in a separate bowl. Add the livers, garlic, onion, optional spice mix, salt and pepper. Grind this into the same both as the venison and pork fat grind from step 3. Place in the refrigerator until its thoroughly chilled (30 minutes to an hour).
In a clean bowl, add the flour, heavy cream, eggs and brandy. Whisk until it is thoroughly blended with no lumps. Pour this into the mixing bowl with the ground meat mixture that's in your refrigerator. Now is the time to add the optional diced ham and chestnut garnishes if you are using them.
Attach your mixing bowl to your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until all of the ingredients are fully incorporated and the mixture is sticky. This will take around 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.
Now is a good time to check for seasoning. You can fry a small piece in a pan or poach in water. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Keep in mind that this will be served cold or at room temperature. And cold food needs more salt.
Line a 1 1/2 quart terrine mold with plastic wrap, with about 4 inches of overhang to ensure you can full enclose the top of the terrine. Now fill the mold with the meat mixture. Fold the plastic wrap over top of the meat.
Cover the terrine with a lid if it has one, or simply use aluminum foil.
Cook in the water bath (from step 1), until you reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees F.
Remove the terrine from the water bath and discard the water bath. Let the terrine rest until it is cool enough to touch. Place the weights on the terrine and place in the refrigerator until it is completely chilled. I like to let mine sit in the refrigerator for around 12 hours. Remove the terrine from the mold and plastic wrap. Slice and serve.
All Purpose Wild Game Spice Blend
2 teaspoons - Sichuan peppercorns
1 tablespoon - mace
1 tablespoon - ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon - ground ginger
1 tablespoon - fennel seeds
1 tablespoon - ground bay leaf powder
2 tablespoons - dried marjoram
2 tablespoons - dried thyme
3 tablespoons - ground mustard
3 tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon - black peppercorns
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons - juniper berries
Toast the fennel seeds, black and Sichuan peppercorns in a dry pan. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
In a spice grinder or coffee grinder, grind all of the ingredients into a fine powder.
Store in an airtight container in a dry, dark and cool place.