Rabbit Terrine with Smoked Prunes
A terrine is a thing of beauty indeed
This week I got my hands on some absolutely beautiful rabbits properly raised on grain and lucerne at a small countryside farm – all fat and chubby with loads of meat on them (in fact I had never actually seen rabbit fat before) but with that wonderful slightly gamey flavour that to be honest I hadn’t experienced since growing up in the countryside and having to eat lead shot ridden rabbit stew from the rabbits the local farmers would give my mum, shot as vermin.
Terrines have that architectural quality that cakes do…a large part of the pleasure is in the design, the construction and achieving the final aesthetics. Fortunately with no rising agents to worry about they are in fact way simpler. The only things to remember are that you do need a good ratio of fat to lean meat (and rabbit meat is notoriously lean and prone to dryness) or else the result will be dry and have a horrible mouth feel. Seasoning should be liberal and cooking fairly slow and gentle.
Gadgets & Gizmos
I do have a favourite ceramic terrine dish but I also often use bread loaf or in Romania “cozonac” tins. If you have a meat thermometer you can check the internal temperature has reached 75C but I generally rely on piercing the terrine and checking the juices run clear. For weighting the terrine down I use tins of tomatoes or bags of sugar.
- 300 g boneless rabbit meat, diced
- 200 g rabbit livers, cleaned and diced or chicken livers- I like to leave them in fairly large pieces
- 500g fatty pork – I use the neck but pork belly would be great. Minced is fine or hand diced if you have a very nice butcher
- 20g salt
- 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp cognac
- 2 tbsp white wine
- 3 cloves garlic finely minced
- zest of 1 orange
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 100g smoked prunes preferably soaked in cognac/white wine mixture – glorious now outlawed Romanian smoked prunes – do try and find illicit ones if you can
- 1 egg
- 200-300g thin bacon/pancetta
- 50g pistachios if you are feeling flush
Obtaining good rabbit can be difficult. For this recipe you do want that gamey flavour so i wouldnt use the frozen supermarket meat as it doesn’t have enough flavour. Duck meat substitutes in well.
Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl except the prunes and pistachios. If you have time it does help to marinate overnight but its not essential. Take care to keep all ingredients absolutely chilled as with all charcuterie and sausage making.
Neatly line your terrine/ bread tin with slices of bacon thinking about how this will look when turned out – those architectural aesthetics.
Press in until half way filled. Take care to really make sure no air pockets as oxidation is the enemy of pates and terrines.
Now make the pretty layer of prunes and pistachios.
Finish up with the rest of the mixture and neatly tuck over the bacon slices
Set the oven to 160C
I like to wrap my terrine in aluminium foil to emulate the effect of a terrine lid. You dont have to but I think it helps keep it moist.
Take a large roasting tray. Place your parcelled up terrine in it. Place it in the oven. Using a jug now pour in water to be half way up the terrine dish (unless you are fine with balancing a large roasting tray half filled with water and a terrine inside it).
Bake until the internal temperature of the terrine reaches 75°C when tested with a meat thermometer (about 2½ hours) or when pierced with a skewer the juices run clear although now I know my oven and I know when it is done and I am loathe to lose any precious juices. Leave the terrine to cool. I leave mine overnight weighted down.
Refrigerate 24 hours before serving. I like to serve with toast and some kind of pickle to cut through the fat. In the photo at the start of this post I’ve served the terrine with toasted brioche and fresh radish pickle. Having a terrine around means instant light lunches, impressive starters and decadent sandwiches are minutes away.