It's time for some more charcuterie folks. For August's Charcutepalooza challenge we had to do some binding. We had a few options as to how we could accomplish this. One of the options was to make a terrine using the head or feet of the pig. *shivers* I just couldn't go there yet. The thought of being visually assaulted by a pig head in my refrigerator was enough to make my head reel. I don't want to consider what it would have done to the kiddos. "Sure honey the milk is right next to the pig head". Nope, I'm not there yet. So I took the meeker approach and made a chicken liver terrine and a tuna terrine. I guess you could say I chickened out.
I have to admit, this was the first challenge I wasn't initially enthused about. I didn't want to be dealing with things like chicken livers. I wasn't sure how I was going to sneak this one past Naiya. She even asked me, "Is there going to be intestines?" Thankfully, I could answer that one honestly. "Nope, no intestines this time." One day she will learn to be more specific with her questions.
It took me a good week to figure out what I wanted to do. My mom (a vegetarian) was even trying to help me come up with ideas. Eventually though, I did come up with two recipes and dragged myself over to the phone to give my butcher a call. I only needed 1 lb. of chicken livers for the recipe I had adapted. He told me that they only sold chicken livers in 5 lb. or 10 lb. buckets because (get this) "Not many people ask for chicken livers". Who knew? You mean chicken livers aren't everyone's Friday night meal? Kids aren't begging for them? Shocker.
Then I realized that the weekend I was planning to make everything, my husband was going to be away. This kept getting better and better. On a morning walk with the kids I came up with an idea. I was going to need to do some really fun stuff with the kids while daddy was away to keep them happy. He was going to be gone for five days so I knew they were really going to be missing him. I decided we would have a "pinkies-up" backyard picnic "pah-tay." I would make it a fancy pants occasion and we would sit around and munch on everything until we were stuffed and our pinkies were sore from being held up during the meal.
On Friday we went to the market and picked up all of the supplies. Besides the meats I also picked up a trio of cheeses and a small loaf of bread (in case they didn't like the crackers I was going to make). I also picked up some peaches for a small rustic peach tart. What's a picnic without a dessert?
Then, once the little ones were in bed and Naiya was at the pool with some friends, I jumped into making the terrines. I started with the chicken livers because I wanted them done before Naiya got home. She had already questioned the bucket in the refrigerator.
I'd like to welcome you to my personal hell. This is about where I started to question my sanity. Sticking my hands into a 5 lb. bucket of chicken livers is not my idea of Friday night fun. But here I was, and I was committed. The idea my mom and I had come up with was for a chicken liver terrine with a raisin puree. Months ago I had adapted a part of a mustard recipe from Local Kitchen into a sauce that I served with a stuffed chicken for a Wednesday night dinner. We thought it might work well with a few tweaks for this terrine.
Chicken Liver Terrine with Chipotle and Raisins
(Adapted from Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Chicken Liver and Apple Terrine)
- 3 tsp. of unflavored gelatin
- 1/3 cup of cold water
- 8 oz. of butter, at room temperature, and divided
- 1 lb. of chicken livers
- 1/2 cup of good port
- 3/4 cup of raisins
- 1 bottle of dark beer (Newcastle works great)
- 1/4 cup of malt vinegar
- 1 tsp. of chipotle powder
- 2 tsp. of salt
- Line a terrine mold with plastic wrap so you can get your terrine out for serving. I found Mrs. Wheelbarrow's tip of wetting the terrine mold first to be very helpful. Put the mold into the freezer while you prepare the terrine.
- Stir the gelatin into the cold water to soften.
- Put the raisins, the beer, and the malt vinegar together in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer until the liquid is almost completely gone. The raisins will have plumped and the liquid will have reduced to a thin layer of syrup in the bottom of the pan. Add the chipoltle powder and stir it all together. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, put the livers into a strainer over a bowl to capture the juices.Check each liver, carefully, removing the connecting sinew, or any other stringy bits, and pat dry.
- Melt 2 Tbs. of butter in a large stainless steel skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken livers and cook them until they are lightly browned and are no longer pink in the middle. Once the livers are cooked through add in the raisin mixture and cook for another couple of minutes. Then put the livers into a bowl set over an ice bath.
- Deglaze the pan with the port. Make sure to srape up any browned bits that got stuck to the bottom. Once the pan is deglazed add the port and the bits to the bowl with the chicken liver mixture.
- In a double boiler, or a bowl set over a pot of boiling water, melt the gelatin.
- Put the liver raisin mixture into the bowl of a food processor and puree until completely smooth.
- Add the gelatin and the salt and continue to process until completely combined. . Check for seasoning.
- Pour the mixture into a bowl over an ice bath and cool until just barely warm.
- Whisk in the remaining butter, a tablespoon at a time. Make sure the butter is thoroughly incorporated.
- Pour the mixture into the frozen mold. Fold the extra plastic wrap across the surface of the terrine. Cover with a piece of parchment, and add a small weight. This is to help the terrine compress as it cools.
- Refrigerate overnight.
Next I made the tuna terrine. I had read Michael Ruhlman's recipe for a seafood terrine which had crab and scallop in it. The thing is, I just don't like crab. I've tried it in several places and in several applications; I'm just not a fan. If you have a recipe to prove me wrong please let me know. The other problem was that my family doesn't really like fish. There are a few ways they will accept it but it is not one of those things that gets requested in my house. The only fish that Naiya really likes is canned tuna. So I thought the best shot I had at a seafood terrine was one with tuna.
Rhulman's recipe calls for a saffron infused cream. I thought this would get lost standing up against tuna since tuna has such a strong, distinct flavor. I looked out into my herb garden for an alternate and my eyes fell upon my French tarragon. Now there is an herb that can stand up to tuna. So by adapting Rhulman's recipe I came up with my own terrine.
Tuna and French Tarragon Terrine
(Adapted from Michael Rhulman's recipe for Maryland Crab, Scallop, and Saffron Terrine)
- 6 Tbs. of heavy cream
- 1 1/2 Tbs. of fresh French tarragon; finely chopped
- 1 lb. of fresh tuna
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 Tbs. of kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. of white pepper
- 2 tsp. of lemon juice; freshly squeezed
- Zest of one lemon
- 1/3 cup of fresh chives, chopped
- Freeze all of the blades and bowls a couple of hours ahead of when you plan to make your terrine.
- Put the cream and the French tarragon in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring the cream to a boil. Once the cream has reached a boil remove it from the heat, and let it stand for 15 minutes. Then place the saucepan in the refrigerator and let it chill while you make the terrine.
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
- Combine the tuna and the egg white in the bowl of the food processor. Puree the tuna until smooth. Then with the machine running pour in the tarragon cream in a steady stream. Add in the slat, pepper, lemon juice and lemon zest. Pulse until completely combined. Transfer the tuna mixture to a bowl and fold in the chives. Place the tuna mixture into the refrigerator while you prepare the terrine mold.
- Line a 2 cup mold with plastic wrap, leaving enough overhang to cover the terrine once it has been filled. Fill the terrine with the tuna mixture. Fold the plastic wrap over the tuna mixture, then cover it with aluminum foil.
- Place the terrine in a high sided roasting pan and add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the mold. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the terrine reaches 140 degrees.
- Remove the terrine from the oven, remove from the water bath, and set a weight of about 2 lbs. (a couple of soup cans) on top of it. Let it cool, then refrigerate overnight.
Then I woke up to this:
Rain...rain all day long. Not the light drizzle rain that you can hope will clear up, but a pouring downpour of saturation falling down ALL DAY LONG. We waited hoping against all hopes that this was some strange hallucination, or some bad dream we would wake up from. The kiddos had been so looking forward to this. We were all bummed.
But I am not one to give up. I developed a plan B. I even developed a plan C in case plan B fell through. They went down for their afternoon naps and something happened...the rain stopped. It stopped and the porch dried up the best it could. It was humid, like a swampy humid, but it wasn't raining. So I got everything together and weather be dammed we had our pinkies up picnic pah-tay on the porch.
The menu included the chicken terrine, tuna terrine, fresh bread, apple wood smoked cheddar cheese, fontina cheese, lemon zest cheddar cheese, thyme crackers, bruschetta, cornichon pickles, maple lemonade, and a rustic peach and vanilla bean tart.
The terrines were served on a cold slab of marble.
We gave thanks, filled our plates and ate on one of my grandmothers quilts. We had so much fun. They laughed, and ate. They rolled around on the blanket.
Lemonade got spilled. There may have been a small foot that ended up in the cheese at one point.
My favorite combination was a thyme cracker with a slice of the tuna terrine and the bruschetta on top. The herbs were all from my garden, as were the tomatoes. I thought it was pretty nifty that I was eating a bite of something that was completely hand made from top to bottom. Yes, I said nifty.
I was not enthused by the chicken liver terrine. To a point where I was not going to include the recipe. I called my mom because I always remembered loving pates as a kid. It was then that she informed me that it was pig pates I had such fond memories of. I had always hated chicken livers. Thanks for the heads up mom, sheesh. Maybe I should have gone for the pig head. My husband really liked it though. He happily munched away on it everyday for lunch the following week. By the time it was gone he had convinced me that it really was good and even though I didn't like it didn't mean other people wouldn't. That is why it is included in this post.
After awhile the flies were closing in along with some rolls of thunder so we moved on to dessert.
Everyone loved dessert. Lily gave it a thumbs up.
It was messy and crumb covered. It was humid, and the flies were everywhere. It was fun and we enjoyed it. As soon as I got the last plate inside and the blanket in the wash, the sky opened up again and it poured like it was making up for lost time.
When I put Lily into bed that night she did her prayers just like she always does. Normally when she prays she thanks God for everything and anything her little mind can think up. But that night she only thanked God for picnics and mommy.