Sunday, June 11, 2006

Terrines: I almost did it

This is what the last couple of posts were supposed to lead up to: a terrine. This isn't something that you really see a whole lot of on this side of the pond. A lot of cooks (such as myself) learn how to make them in cooking school, and then never get the chance to do anything with them in the real world, because a) most Americans don't know what terrines are and b) they couldn't handle them even if they did.

I'd been wanting to make a vegetable terrine for some time; mostly because I'd never made one before. I'd made meat terrines, baked pates made out of anything from chicken to foie gras, back in cooking school. Honestly, I didn't like any of them. I don't know why. Maybe they were too bland, maybe something in my American brain just isn't ready for them. Maybe I just don't like cold sausage. A couple of years ago, I made a chicken terrine, with salt pork, dried cherries and dried apricots added for extra flavor. My tasters at the time thought it was just about the best thing ever. I thought it was disgusting. Did I mention I also don't like cold chicken, or chicken sausage?

So I decided to try out a veggie terrine. A nice southwestern-inspired bit, with chiles and yellow squash and chevre. Okay, so not completely southwestern. And then I never did it. I kept meaning to, and I just never got around to it. And then I got a brilliant idea! Brilliant!

I took a loaf pan, gave it a quick spray and lined it with a piece of parchment paper. Then I took about 6 marinated roasted red bell peppers (from my previous post) and lined the pan with them. I cooked up a (14oz) can of black beans, simmered until just fork tender, and then rinsed and cooled them. I mixed them into a (14oz) can of refried beans, along with a teaspoon of chipotle Tabasco. I laid down about half of that as a layer inside the red peppers. Then I took about half a pound of smoked pork (no, I'm to lazy to make it, I bought it from Lon's Cookin' Shack) and mixed it with about half a cup of salsa. I laid that down as a layer over the beans, and then another layer of beans on top. Then I covered up the whole thing with the remainder of the red peppers. I wrapped it in plastic wrap, put another loaf pan on top, with a few cans of tomatoes on top for weight, and put it in the fridge overnight.

About an hour before it was time to eat, I unwrapped it and put it in a 350F oven until the middle reached 165F (which took about an hour). Normally, terrines are served cold, but hey, who wants to eat this thing cold? So I decided to break more rules and serve it hot. This is when I learned that rules exist for a reason. Sharp though my knives were, the terrine still buckled from the pressure of the blade. In retrospect, I probably should have used my electric knife. So this wasn't the best presentation ever. In fact, I'm pretty embarassed about it. But I'm honest, so I tell people about my screwups. And dang, it tasted good! We served it with Spanish rice, with black bean hummus, salsa and blue corn chips on the side.

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