Updated: Aug 28, 2020
It doesn't get much more traditional in the world of classic cold dishes than terrines. Though they can sometimes look like they are complicated to make, they are essentially 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", which basically means pureed or ground meat. Your tougher cuts of meat coming from the shoulders and hind legs are best.
There are four different styles of foremeats that you will see me referring to on this site: straight, country, gratin and mousseline.
To make things simple and to make the learning process easier, I'm just going to be covering the straight style forcemeat. I've added a recipe below the tutorial for you to try as well. If you're interested in learning about the other forcemeat styles, don't worry, I'll cover them in separate posts along with a recipe for each.
Lets get started!
What is a forcemeat?: A forcemeat is a lean 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.
What is a straight forcemeat?: A straight forcemeat combines your uncooked dominant meat (usually wild boar, bear or venison) and what ever fat that you are using (usually pork). Often but not always, a secondary meat is added which is where your game birds, rabbits or squirrels meat usually comes in to play. The meats and fat are cut into cubes, seasoned, cured, rested, ground and pureed in a food processor.
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 dough made up of flour, water, butter and eggs.
NOW HOW TO MAKE A STRAIGHT FORCEMEAT
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 straight style terrine is your meat grinder. For a straight forcemeat, a medium or fine die will work. If you're into progressive grinding you can always start off with a larger die and then regrind with a smaller one, it this usually isn't necessary.
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. In some recipes this would be the time where you'd add in an egg for an even better bind or a little heavy cream to give a smoother texture and richer flavor.
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.
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 poached 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. If you're interested in buying a terrine mold, Le Cruset makes some of the best. You can also find them on Amazon.com, and JB Prince.
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.
Covered tightly, a terrine will typically stay fresh in the refrigerator up to 10 days.
WILD-BOAR & VENISON TERRINE
1 pound venison shoulder, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 pound wild-boar hind leg meat, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 pound fatback, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup - red wine
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon or 2 grams pink salt (option, this is for color)
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoon minced onion
6 ounces heavy cream
2 cups dried tart cherries (soaked overnight in brandy and then drained)
1/2 cup chopped roasted walnuts
Combine the meat, fat, wine, spices, salt, pepper and pink salt into a bowl, cover and refrigerate them overnight.
In a pan melt the butter and cook your onions and garlic over medium-low heat until soft. Chill in the refrigerator.
Pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees F.
Prepare your forcemeat by grinding your marinated meat mixture into a chilled bowl. (Don't forget to put your grinder parts in the freezer beforehand)
Add the ground meat mixture, eggs and cooked onions/garlic to your food processor, blend until smooth. Then transfer the mixture back into a chilled bowl. Fold in the heavy cream with a rubber spatula until fully incorporated. Now fold in your drained cherries and walnuts.
Line your terrine mold with plastic wrap leaving enough overhang to fully cover the terrine.
Fill the terrine mold with the mixture and cover with the overhanging plastic. Then cover the top of the vessel with aluminum foil or a lid.
Bake the terrine in a water-bath to an internal temperature of 150 degrees F. This will take about 60-70 minutes.
Remove the terrine from the water and allow it to cool to room temperature. Apply your handy press-plate that you made and weigh it down with a 2 pound weight. Refrigerate over night and then you're ready to slice and serve.