Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Learning to love liver (not really)

I like to think I am a total omnivore. As a food writer I think it is important that I am not squeamish about any food, and that I don't have any food prejudices. That I'm willing to give any food a go. 

And that's something I pretty much stick to. Weird exotic meat - no problem. Peacock? Done it. Sheep testicles? Yep. Baby Bambi? Bring it on. Insects? No problem. I would, I believe, give anything a try at least once. But offal. As much as I have tried, I have found it impossible to enjoy kidneys and livers. 

I know I'm not alone here. I love the idea of them - high in iron and vitamin A, rich and meaty, usually cooked in a delicious combo of butter and wine. But something about the texture, paired with that very strong, iron-y, intense animal flavour... I just can't do it.

Except I can eat pate and terrine. Liver, when it's not quite so liver-ish, and when combined with other ingredients, I find I can handle and actually, enjoy. This is good news for my omnivore reputation. 

Here I present my favorite summer terrine; the basis of many a weekend summer lunch, and a lovely thing to nibble on with a glass of wine pre-dinner. Terrine is really just a flash French meatloaf, and it is completely delicious. I am using sausages here instead of mincing my own meats, just because it's easier. Obviously the better your sausages, the better the flavour of the finished terrine. Italian ones with fennel seeds, or Toulouse sausages, make good choices. If you have any brandy you could add a splash of that, too. Next up, pate (a complete revelation!)

Niki's chicken and pork terrine 

450g chicken mince 
400g (about 4) pork sausages (I used Branco's continental pork) 
1 clove garlic, finely chopped 
1 spring onion, finely chopped 
1 rasher shoulder bacon, chopped in small pieces 
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped 
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped 
2 tablespoons shelled pistachio nuts 
1/4 cup white wine 
180g chicken livers 
salt and freshly ground white pepper 

Preheat the oven to 160C. Squeeze the insides out of the sausages into a large bowl. Add all the other ingredients, except chicken livers. Mix together well with your hands (easiest) or a fork if you are feeling squeamish. 

Put the chicken livers into a blender or processor and whiz into a smooth slurry. (This is the grossest bit, but worth it for the flavour it adds). Add this into the meat mixture, season and mix it all together well. 

Put the mixture into a loaf tin and smooth the top. Put inside a roasting dish and fill the roasting dish with water so it comes about halfway up the sides of the loaf tin. 

Cook in the oven for 1 1/4 hours. Check it by inserting a knife or skewer; it's cooked when the juices run clear. It may need another 15 minutes or so. 

Cool the terrine in the loaf tin, then cover with a layer of plastic wrap and a layer of foil. Put something heavy on top of the terrine (I use another loaf tin loaded with cans of food) and leave it in the fridge overnight. This presses it down and gives it that lovely terrine-ish texture. Serve sliced, with a tasty relish, crusty bread and a salad. A glass of wine goes well, too. 

This terrine keeps for several days in the fridge, and freezes well too. Slice it up or freeze it whole. 

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1 comment:

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