CHAPTER XI: PATE AND TERRINE
Perfumed with freshly chopped herbs and aromatic spices, a melange of succulent ingredients distinguish pates and terrines, as some of the most delectable of food preparations. They can be basic or fancy, inexpensive or costly, they can be made in a variety of shapes and sizes – small, large, oval, round, rectangular and even cylindrical. Terrines are cooked, stored and even served in the same container which may be crafted iron, enamel, porcelain and glass but which originally was pottery or earthen ware from which the terrine got its name (terre meaning earth in French).
The term pate refers to forcemeat baked in a crust, usually in a rectangular mould, something like a loaf tin. In French it is called pate en croute. Simply defined, a pate is a paste of finely chopped or pounded or pureed seasoned meat, which generally is liver. There are a few classical dishes like the pate campagne from
Among the wide variety of ingredients used in the making of a pate are liver, a variety of meats, truffle and of course seasoning. Goose and duck liver, bring a characteristic flavor to the pate. Chicken livers are the most common these days but sheep and calf liver are often used as well. Truffle will make the pate special. Pates can be prepared in advance, stored and then used as and when required. The meats used in a pate are first marinated and at times pre cooked. The livers must be handled carefully and the gall bladder, veins and blood clots if any must be removed. Ideally, the livers must be soaked in milk for 24 hours (refrigerated). They are then drained and seasoned. Sometimes, a small quantity of bread crumbs is added to the farce to lighten the mixture. Non fat dry milk (powder) could also be used. It adds a creamy texture to the mixture. A meat glaze or aspic could also be substituted as a binder and will contribute a rich gelatinous quality to the farce. For that extra fragrance, a small quantity of wine or brandy could be added at the last minute before combining and processing.
For the crust, a dough must be prepared and the following recipe has proved to be good
Flour 1 kg
Butter 150 gm
Margarine 200 gm
Baking powder 15 gm
Water 250 ml (approx.)
Vinegar 25 ml
Salt 2 tsp
Sift the flour and the baking powder.
Rub the shortening and the butter into the flour
Combine and add the remaining ingredients into the flour.
Mix until the dough is formed and knead till smooth.
Shape the dough into a flat rectangle. Refrigerate overnight.
Note: pate dough can also be made out of yeast and brioche dough
Assembling the pate:
Lightly oil the mould.
Roll the dough and line the mould leaving an overhang on the four sides.
Carefully press the dough into the corners of the mould.
Refrigerate the lined mould for at least an hour.
Fill the mould with the prepared farce ½ inch short of the top edge.
(the forcemeat should be placed in the mould in several layers. Use a palette knife to press into place. This will reduce the risk of air pockets in the finished product. There may be a central or dispersed garnish)
Fold the overhanging dough over the top of the mould and the seal.
Carefully cut two small holes from the top and provide chimneys for the excess steam to escape during the cooking.
Cooking the Pate:
The cooking takes place in two stages
Browning stage: Cover the surface with foil and place the mould in a pre heated 475°F oven for approximately 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes. The surface should show hints of brown.
Cooking stage: Uncover the pate and lightly egg wash the top of the pate
Place in a pre heated 375°F oven until an internal temperature of 170°F has been reached. Temperature can be taken through the chimney. Make sure the thermometer reaches the center of the pate.
Finishing the Pate:
The pate is not complete when removed from the oven. It must now be filled with aspic. First, allow the pate to cool to room temperature. This will allow for the fat and the juices to be re absorbed into the meat. Through the chimneys, carefully pour in good quality aspic. The aspic will slowly be absorbed into the meat and will fill the sides (where the meat has shrunk), and any crevice and air pockets that might have formed. Allow the pate to chill overnight before removal and slicing.
Terrines are the closet cousins of the pate. The terrine vessel is an oblong earthern ware mould. As mentioned earlier, this was the original vessel that was use and this is how terrine got its name. However, nowadays, enamel, cast iron, clay, porcelain and china vessels are common. Since the terrine takes its name from the vessel and not the mixture used, the variety of types is limitless. The forcemeat used in a terrine is usually uncooked and is slightly coarser compared to a pate. Various force Meats can be used and layered one over the other. Care should be taken that the variety of forcemeats used complement each other. The binding used in a forcemeat for a terrine is normally eggs or gelatin.
Pre preparation of a Terrine:
The forcemeat for the terrine must first be prepared. This may be more than one type and can be layered. The garnish which can be chopped herbs is also prepared. Line the mold with strips of pork fat or bacon.
Assembling the Terrine:
Fill the terrine half full and ensure that there are no air pockets. If a central garnish is being used, place this in the middle and top with the other half of the forcemeat. If several types of forcemeat are being used, then layer them one over the other. Top with additional layers of pork fat or streaky bacon. The fat/bacon keeps the terrine moist during the ensuing cooking process. Small bunches of fresh herbs may also be placed on the top of the terrine. Bayleaf, rosemary and thyme are ideal for this purpose.
Cooking the Terrine:
Assemble a water bath to cook the terrine. A wire rack can be placed at the bottom of the pan on which the mould can rest. Place in a preheated 325°F oven. The temperature of the water should be 190°f before placing in the oven. The water should come upto ½ inch below the level of the forcemeat in the mould.
The temperature of the water should be maintained at 170-175°F throughout the cooking process. The terrine is done when the internal temperature reaches 140°F. remove from the water bath and cool at room temperature for 30 minutes.
A cooked terrine is pressed or weighted after it is cooked. This involves placing a weight on the surface of the terrine. A metal plate that fits into the top of the terrine is placed on top and a medium weight is placed on the plate. This is then refrigerated overnight. It helps to compact the terrine and thereby improve the texture and facilitates easy slicing of the terrine.
Storing Pates and Terrines:
Refrigerate meat pates and terrines to ripen their flavor. Covered and refrigerated, they will keep for a week. Terrines will actually keep much longer if a layer of melted fat/butter is poured over the surface. Avoid the freezing of meat pates and terrines. It alters the texture of the meat and also the pastry. Well-chilled pates and terrines will slice the best. However, they taste best closer to room temperature. After slicing, allow to stand a while. This allows the subtleties of the flavor to emerge.
Serving Pates and Terrines:
Pate in pastry is sliced and served as a starter along with a plate salad.
Terrine can be served sliced or scooped out with a spoon. Terrines and pates can both be featured on a cold buffet presentation.