I think, if you've read this blog before, you may have realized that pork and I are totally BFF. In fact, my husband should be a little worried that some day I will run off with the pork guy at the farmer's market. Because, free pork for life? Tempting. So it's pretty obvious that for the Valentine's Day dinner cook-off (please, like it wasn't a competition in my brain), I went with a porky first course. That would be the Country Terrine with Pistachios from Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook.
Like I said in an earlier post, this wasn't a particularly difficult dish (given that you own a stand mixer with a meat grinder attachment, which lucky me, I do). It just took a HELL of a long time to make. Like four days. Maybe five. I kind of lost count at some point. Most of that time is spent letting the meat marinate - first after cutting it into cubes, then again after grinding it (I deviated from the recipe a bit in this) and then AGAIN after you cook the terrine.
Hopefully you're not creeped out by the above picture of meat as it comes out of the grinder. If you are, I would seriously reconsider ever attempting this dish on your own. And also, SISSY!
But after all the crazy time and (at least procuring the meat products) effort, THIS DISH KICKS ASS. Like it's almost a week later and I'm STILL eating it. Even though I think it's probably as bad, if not worse than the Porkstrosity we had at the Super Bowl. I love this terrine. I would make out with this terrine at a junior high school dance. And if you're smart, you'll get the taste of porky goodness on your lips, too.
Country Terrine with Pistachios
by Alice Waters, from the Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook
3 lbs. lean boneless pork shoulder
1/2 lb. back fat (from a pig, natch)
3 oz. pancetta
1 1/2 tbsp. salt
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
8 allspice berries
1/4 tsp. dried thyme (I used fresh from the garden and went with a full tablespoon)
A pinch of cayenne (about 1/4 tsp. in my dish)
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1/2 c. shelled whole pistachios
4 bay leaves
OPTIONAL: Caul fat
1. Day 1 - Cut the pork shoulder, back fat and pancetta into 1 inch thick pieces. Toss the meat with 1 1/2 tsp. salt and refrigerate. (I tossed it with the spice mixture from the next step and let the cubes rest over night).
2. Day 1 or 2 (I did it on day 1) - Pulverize the 2 bay leaves, the peppercorns, allspice, thyme, clove and cayenne in a mortar or spice mill (or coffee grinder). Add 2/3 of this spice mixture to the meat and mix together. Reserve the remainder.
3. Day 2 - Grind the seasoned meat using the 1/4 inch plate of a meat grinder (this would be the bigger holed grinder attachment on the Kitchen Aid). Grind 1/3 of the ground meat again. Combine the two meat mixtures and refrigerate overnight.
4. Day 3 - The next day, add the parsley, garlic and pistachios, and mix lightly with your hands. Do not overhandle or the texture of the terrine will be too dense. To taste for seasoning, fry a bit of the mixture and chill it (it will taste different when cold, which is how the dish is served). It may require more salt or spice mixture at the time (mine didn't). Don't fuss with it too much.
5. Day 3 - Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place 2 bay leaves on the bottom of each of two 5 cup (1.2 L) earthenware terrines or glass loaf pans. Add half of the pork mixture to each terrine. (OR: Freeze half of the mixture, enough for a second terrine, as I did). Cover each with a lid or with foil. (If you wish, line the 2 pans with caul fat, leaving some hanging over the sides; add the bay leaves and pork mixture, wrap the caul over the top and do not cover.) Tap the pans on a tabletop to settle everything. Put a kitchen towl in the bottom of a deep roasting pan and set the terrines on it (the towel will insulate the bottom of the pan). Fill the pan with enough hot water to come 2/3 up the sides of the terrines and bake until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees F, in about 1 1/2 hours (mine took about 98 minutes total). Remove the terrines from the roasting pan and cool at room temperature for about 2 hours, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
6. Days 4-6 - The terrines CAN be eaten the next day, but they will develop more flavor if left for 2-3 days. To unmold, dip the pans in hot water for a few minutes and invert. Cut into thick slices and serve with strong Dijon mustard and cornichons.
Variations: Use half the mixture to make a terrine and the other half to make rustic sausages wrapped in caul fat for a meal the same day (well, the same day being Day 3). For a more complex terrine, add poultry livers and hearts, a little black truffle and a splash of Cognac.