Sous Vide Country Terrine
A country terrine, or terrine de campaigne is one of life’s great joys. I tasted my first one somewhere in the French countryside between Dijon and Reims, accompanied by a flute of champagne and never looked back. This sous vide country terrine is by far the best of my several tries and I suspect I’ll never make another terrine without my trusty Anova.
The reason sous vide works so well is that the process of vacuum sealing (my Foodsaver edge sealer worked very well for this) compresses the ground meat filling — called forcemeat or farce — and keeps it compressed throughout the process. The sous vide cooking ensures the mixture is cooked evenly and thoroughly without browning or scorching, which can happen using a water bath in an oven, despite your best efforts.
The farce for this terrine was made using a base I found at good ol’ Epicurious, but using meats I could readily get my hands on — ground pork and veal, chicken breast — but I’m looking forward now to trying some rabbit or duck down the road. The sous vide method I followed was suggested by a Twitter friend who lives and breathes sous vide, backed up by some reading at Our Daily Brine. To test the recipe and technique, I used a mini terrine mold that’s about 3×5 inches and cooked it for 2.5 hours. I suspect that would be long enough for a full-size loaf, but the beauty of sous vide is that you can cook something longer for safety sake without overcooking it (within reason, of course).
Finally, I never once got a terrine in France without some well-made Dijon mustard and a few little sweet pickles called cornichons served along side. Oh, and yeah, plenty of sliced baguette.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup finely chopped red onion
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried, crumbled)
- 2 tsp. coarse sea salt (less if you use table salt)
- 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 large eggs
- 3 Tbsp. brandy
- 1/2 lb chicken livers
- 1/2 lb ground pork
- 1/2 lb ground veal
- 2 oz. salt cured pork fat back diced small
- 1 small chicken breast, diced into 1/2-3/4-inch chunks
- 2-4 asparagus spears, trimmed to fit terrine mold/pan
- 3-4 green olives
- 3-4 Nicoise olives (or Kalamata)
- 12 bacon slices (more for a larger mold/pan)
- Heat a 12-inch saute pan and add the butter. When hot, add in the oions and cook over moderate heat until very soft but not browned. Add garlic and thyme and saute for 1 minute more. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Add salt, peppercorns, allspice, and nutmeg, to onion mixture and whisk in cream, eggs, and brandy until combined well.
- Pulse chicken livers in a food processor until finely chopped, then add them to the onion mixture along with the fat back, ground pork, chicken and veal. Mix well using your hands or a wooden spoon.
- Lay strips of bacon crosswise in a terrine mold or loaf pan so that they touch but don't overlap, leaving about two inches on each side hanging over the edge of the mold or pan. (If you're using a full-size loaf pan, that may require more strips of bacon. The idea is to encase the filling completely in bacon.)
- Fill the mold or pan about 1/4 full with the meat filling (farce), press in a couple of asparagus spears, then continue filling, adding remaining asparagus and olives until the mold/pan is full.
- Fold overhanging ends of bacon back over these. Vacuum seal the completed terrine and refrigerate overnight.
- Cook in a sous vide bath at 65.5C (about 150F) for 2-3 hours, depending on the size of the loaf. The idea is to get the terrine up to temp and hold it there for several minutes, to pasteurize.
- When the terrine is cooked, return it to the refrigerator for at two-three hours, or until thoroughly chilled.
- Serve accompanied by your favorite mustard, baguette slices and maybe a few cornichons -- or as part of a charcuterie board.
- This terrine can be made using a water bath in an oven (without vacuum sealing). If so, you may want to weight it down during the final cooling to keep it intact.