Okay, okay, one more little offal recipe before we move on. This one’s a special treat, perfect for company, a date, a picnic (you know, for whenever spring might decide to show up) or even just a night when you want to stay at home and enjoy a simple but special meal, because all of the work is prepared in advance. The beauty of a terrine like this is that it looks impressive, but truly, is simple to put together.
What’s a terrine? Simply, it’s similar to a pâté, but the meat is more coarsely chopped. Pâtés often have finely ground meats and some variety of liver (like my chicken liver pâté) and are often spreadable. This terrine, in contrast, has some texture to it, and is best served sliced alongside a crusty bread, crackers, pickles, Dijon mustard, or other small, tasty little morsels. It’s traditionally a French dish, originally created not to impress guests at holiday parties so much as to act as a method to preserve meats prior to those days where refrigeration was common. Now, we can take advantage of the creativity of long ago and just use it for the “guest-impressing” factor.
What I love most about a terrine such as this is not only is it tasty, but it’s completely make-ahead. A couple of mostly unattended hours in the oven, and a stay in the refrigerator, and all you have to do prior to serving is slice it and set it on a plate alongside the condiments of your choice. This makes it perfect for entertaining, when you don’t wish to spend all of your time in the kitchen. I loved that I could bring some of it to work for lunch. It definitely made lunchtime something to look forward to!
You can certainly substitute to your heart’s content with this terrine. I used ground venison, boar sausage and lamb liver, as that was what I had on hand, but just about any ground meat and regular pork sausage will do, and beef or even chicken liver would work just fine here. You do want some source of fat, so don’t go too lean on your sausage or bacon. And a little tip – to be sure you have your spices balanced and that you have an adequate amount of salt prior to cooking, make a tiny little patty (about an inch in diameter) from the meat mixture and sear it in a skillet for a few minutes and taste it. If your meat is bland, bump up the spices a bit. This is my trick when making meatballs and meatloaf (which is actually a form of terrine!), and it works well in this instance too.
I opted to serve this terrine with cornichons, gluten-free crackers and a touch of coarse mustard.
Lamb Liver and Wild Game Terrine with Pistachios and Cranberries (gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, paleo)
1 lb ground venison
8 oz lamb liver, finely chopped
4 oz bacon, finely chopped
6 oz wild boar sausage (fresh, not smoked)
Zest of 1 lemon
20 juniper berries, crushed and chopped
3/4 c dried cranberries, chopped (I used fruit-juice sweetened)
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/4 c cognac or brandy
2 T ghee or olive oil
1/2 c finely chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 T chopped fresh sage leaves
2 T chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
3 T coconut milk
1/2 cup (about 4 oz) chopped shelled pistachios
10 oz sliced bacon
In a large bowl, combine the venison, liver, bacon, sausage, lemon zest, juniper berries, cranberries, salt, pepper, and cognac. Stir together well and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight to marinate.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Heat the ghee/olive oil over medium heat and cook the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes or until soft but not browned. Add the herbs and spices and stir in, cooking for another minute. Turn off heat and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
Remove the meat mixture from the refrigerator and stir in the onion mix, the egg, the coconut milk, and the pistachios.
Line a loaf tin with the bacon.
Spoon the mixture into the tin and press down. Fold over the bacon slices over the top, and add an additional slice or two if not completely covered.
Cover the terrine tightly with a double layer of foil. Poke a few holes in the top to vent.
Fill a 9″X13″ glass baking dish halfway with hot water and place the terrine in the center, making sure the water comes up about halfway along the sides of the loaf tin. Bake for about 1 1/2-2 hours or until a thermometer inserted diagonally into the center reads 155-160 degrees.
Remove foil and allow terrine to stand on a rack for 30 minutes to cool.
Place terrine still in its mold in a cleaned baking dish. Place a piece of parchment paper cut to fit over the top of the terrine, and place another same size loaf tin (or piece of wood or heavy cardboard cut to fit, wrapped in foil) on top of paper. Put 2-3 unopened cans (I used some cans of coconut milk – always on hand at my house!) on top to weight the cooked terrine. Chill with weights for at least 4 hours. Continue to chill terrine, with or without weights, for at least 24 hours to allow flavors to meld.
To serve, place loaf tin in a baking dish with an inch or so of hot water for about 2 minutes. Run a knife or offset spatula around the inside edge of the mold. Tip the mold to drain any excess liquid, and then invert over a cutting board. Let stand at room temperature for 20-30 minutes, and then slice and serve.