If you are going to do something, then do it well. With intensity and passion.
For example, take chicken. “Tastes just like chicken” may be the most used culinary insult available. Because chicken can really, really be exceptionally good. Yet we are all quite stuck in our cooking-chicken ways: baked, roasted, barbequed. How can you have that chicken flavor but make it excitingly different, especially for a hot summer day’s brunch or dinner. There’s a double drought on: no rain and not enough good chicken ideas.
With lots and lots of cookbooks on our shelves, Suzen and I sometimes look at old friends for inspiration. This recipe, from The Classic Food of Northern Italy published in 1996, is overflowing with intense chicken flavor. It’s a terrine, made from those thighs pictured above, but also with chicken livers and some butter and some brandy. Everything is cooked, then put into a food processor, then cooked again in a bain-marie [a water bath]. The terrine, or pâte if you will, is chilled and served cold.
For a warm summer day, have this terrine on a bed of salad with a sharp vinaigrette. A chilled bottle of white ready to pour is the only addition you will need for a complete meal. That unending heat will not abate because you make this dish. But for this one meal, you’ll taste relief. Oh, and you’ll taste chicken as God intended.
Yield: serves 8
- 1 ¾ pounds fresh chicken thighs
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2garlic cloves, bruised
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 fresh rosemary sprig
- 7 ounces of chicken livers
- 7 ounces [14 tablespoons] unsalted butter
- 3 ½ ounces [½cup] very finely chopped onion
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 tablespoons brandy
Heat the oven to 400°F.
Skin the chicken thighs, remove and discard the fat attached to them, and place in a roasting pan.
In a bowl mix together the oil, garlic, 2 teaspoons of salt and a good grinding of pepper. Brush the thighs all over with the seasoned oil using the rosemary sprig. Throw the rosemary, the garlic and any left-over oil into the pan and place the tin in the oven. After 5 minutes remove and discard the garlic. Cook, basting once or twice, for about 20 minutes. The chicken should no longer be bloody though still undercooked. Leave to cool while you cook the chicken liver. Leave the oven on.
Trim the fat and gristle off the chicken livers and cut the livers into pieces. Heat 4 tablespoons of the butter, the onion, bay leaf and 1 teaspoon of salt in a frying pan and cook to soften the onion. As soon as the onion is soft add the chicken livers. Fry for 5 minutes; then splash with the brandy. Finally, cook rapidly for 2 or 3 minutes.
Go back to the chicken thighs. Remove the bone and cut the meat into pieces. Put the meat, the chicken livers with all the cooking juices, and the remaining butter cut into pieces in a food processor and give it a whizz for 2 or 3 seconds. Add salt and pepper. (I add 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of ground pepper, because any pâte or terrine that is served chilled needs a lot of seasoning.)
Whizz again to a very coarse texture – not a smooth pâte-like consistency. Taste and check seasoning.
Line a 1 quart loaf tin with foil and spoon the mixture into it, pushing it down and banging the tin hard on the work surface to eliminate any air pockets. Cover with cling film.
Now you must cook the terrine in a bain-marie in the oven. To do that, place the terrine in a roasting pan and pour some boiling water into the pan to come half to three-quarters of the way up the side of the pan. Bake for 20 minutes.
When the terrine is cold, refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
You can serve the whole terrine in a dish, surrounding it with a little salad, drizzled with a few drops of extra virgin olive oil, or you can slice the terrine and put it on individual plates on a bed of lightly dressed salad.
Source: Classic Food of Northern Italy by Anna del Conte
James Peterson is a master cook and author. So when he says his country terrine “is a bit more sophisticated than the usual versions” you want to pay attention. The layers of different ingredients here create a checkerboard pattern that is Parisian stunning. Making this dish requires a little patience, and probably a second set of hands as you layer the ingredients into the terrine. It’s worth every minute.
If you have been to Paris and walked through Fauchon and thought, “My God, how do they do that?” then this recipe is for you. The terrines and pates in the culinary hallways of the best French markets are really awe inspiring. These are creations that are true food art. You see the elements of a terrine and virtually taste them. You look at a mousse and just know it would be the smoothest thing you ever put in your mouth. And the cases are filled with all kinds of these goodies. It’s overwhelming. It’s intimidating.
And that’s when you have that moment of despair telling yourself that you could never, ever do this yourself.
Wrong. This terrine recipe works beautifully. I urge you to look at or buy a copy of Cooking by Peterson because in the book this recipe is accompanied by 20 color photographs that take you through each step.
Take an afternoon and treat yourself. Get a bottle, a really good bottle, of French red, because you are about to impress yourself.
Yield: 12 x 4” terrine offering 15 slices
- ⅔ cup shelled pistachios
- Scant 8 ounces Largo, sliced very thinly
- 5 ounces rough cubes lardo or fatback
- 5 ounces chicken livers
- 4 slices white bread
- ⅔ cup all milk
- 2 whole eggs
- 2 pounds pork shoulder chops or 1 ½ pounds cubed pork shoulder meat
- 4 ounces lardo or fatback, sliced ⅛ to ¼ inch thick
- 4 ounces prosciutto, sliced ⅛ to ¼ inch thick
- 1 clove garlic, minced, fresh two paste
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme, chopped fine
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon find salt
- ⅛ teaspoon olive oil
Plunge the pistachios quart of boiling water and simmer for one minute. Drain in a strainer and rinsed with cold water. Rub the pistachios vigorously together in a towel to loosen the skins. Peeled them by pinching between thumb and finger.
Line the terrine with the thin slices of lardo or fatback, leaving a couple inches of excess hanging over the side area.
Combine the cubes of lardo with the chicken livers and puree in a food processor for one minute until smooth.
Cut the crusts off the bead and work the brad with milk to paste. Combine this with the eggs and chicken liver mixture until smooth.
Chop the pork shoulder meat in the food processor until the consistency of coarse hamburger. Combine this mixture with the chicken liver mixture.
Slice the lardo or fatback prosciutto into ⅛-inch to ¼-inch thick strips.
Stir the garlic, thyme, pepper, spices, salt into the forcemeat mixture. Make a tiny hamburger and cook it in the olive oil in a sauté pan. Taste it to judge the seasoning and adjust accordingly, keeping in mind that the garnitures — strips of prosciutto of lardo —are salty.
Spread one fifth of the forcemeat mixture into the bottom of the lined terrine. Arrange one fourth of the prosciutto and lardo in strips across the length of the terrine. Spread over another one fifth of the forcemeat mixture and another one fourth of the prosciutto and lardo and one third of the nuts. Continuing layering in this way, using the nuts for three of the layers until you fill the terrine. Finish with a layer of forcemeat.
Fold the overlapping strips of lardo over the top of the terrine person place.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place a rectangle of parchment paper on top of the terrine.
Fold a triple layer of aluminum foil into a rectangle 1 inch longer and wider than the terrine, and press this onto the terrine and fold over the edges of the terrine area.
Put the terrine in a roasting pan with hot tap water, place the pan on the stove over high heat until the water comes to simmer. Slide the roasting pan with the terrine into the oven. Bake for about one hour or until a thermometer inserted in the into the middle measures 150°F.
Take out a roasting pan and let cool at room temperature for one hour and then in the refrigerator overnight. Remove the foil parchment paper and slide a knife around the sides of the paté. Serve the terrine by cutting slices from out of the mold or unmold in the whole terrine and then slicing it.
Source: Cooking by James Peterson