Waiter there’s something in my …. duck terrine!

 duckp1.jpg

When The Passionatte Cook announced that the next WTSIM event would focus on terrines, I eagerly turned toward the back of my new CIA cookbook, The Professional Chef. Yet another wonderful Christmas present, it proved to be a blessing, with a whole chapter devoted to forecemeats.

My husband, on the other hand, wasn’t quite as delighted about the event as I was. When I told him I wanted to make a pate, I think at first he thought I was joking. He said, well, you’re the one making it! When he got a chance to look at the ingredients (fatback is included), his enthusiasm shrank even more. It probably wasn’t very fair of me to make him ask for the weird ingredients at the butcher, but hey, I was the one cooking!

The first challenge was getting enough duck meat off of the duck we bought without using the breast meat (that was reserved to be added whole). The duck was frozen and even though we had let it thaw in the fridge for a day, parts of it were still frozen. Eventually I managed to salvage enough meat off of the duck, a process that probably could have been easier if I had kitchen shears. We ended up saving the carcass and using it to make duck stock, which happily awaits us in the freezer.

The second challenge was grinding the meat. I don’t have a meat grinder attachment for my kitchenaid mixer yet, so I had to make due with my meat processor. I vaguely remember something on Good Eats about how the food processor isn’t as good for grinding meats for sausages, but because I wanted the consistency of this meat to be more pasty anyway, I didn’t think it would matter too much.

Third problem: we couldn’t find TCM (tinted curing mix) ANYWHERE in town. Granted, we live in Little Rock, Arkansas, so the culinary community is quite small. I had to settle on some Morton curing mix that included suger, but it was better than nothing.

Fourth problem: no terrine pan. Not only did we not have one, but, once again NOWHERE in town had one for sale. The only thing that seemed like a suitable replacement was our earthenware meat loaf pan. It was a little wide, so the terrine itself ended up being a little more shallow than I would have liked.

After poaching the pate and then weighing it down over night, Jay and I were anxious to try it. Later Jay told me that his only experiences with pate had been with mushy, cat-food like pates. I was the first to try the pate, which was a little intimidating all wrapped in ham. Cut open, however, it revealed its little jewels of dried cherries and pistachio nuts, as well as the whole duck breast running through the center of the pate. I bit into the first slice …..

duckp3.jpg

….. and it was amazing! The flavors are really complex but not overwhelmingly so, and they all play on each other very nicely. The first thing I could taste was the saltiness of the ham, but soon it gave way to the flavor of the duck, which in turn was followed by a subtle sweetness and a hint of the early sage. Each bite was exactly like the first: a harmony of flavors that played off of and followed each other in a gradual succession, inviting you to savor the meat in your mouth rather than just swallow and get rid of it. Furthermore, the texture isn’t mushy at all but instead nice and firm without being overly tough. I think Jay ended up liking it even more than me! For dinner, Jay seared a couple of thin slices for a duck pate sandwich.

Needless to say, I was very proud of my achievment. I was a little timid and anxious during most of the process, mainly because this was a whole new type of cooking that I had never even dreamed of trying. Thanks to my new cookbook, however, and this wonderful challenge, I was able to stretch my culinary abilities. And thanks to this new-found ability and confidence in myself, I’ll be more confident about preparing fancy things like pates for future dinner parties. If you can weather through the preparation of this dish, I highly recommend it.

duckp2.jpg
packed pate, pre-poaching

Duck Terrine with Pistachios and Dried Cherries
(original recipe The Professional Chef by the CIA)

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1 Response to “Waiter there’s something in my …. duck terrine!”


  1. 1 Clumsy January 24, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Bravo! Making your first terrine is such an accomplishment! It looks wonderful and I’m sure tasted amazing!!


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