Wednesday, February 13, 2013
This is the rabbit terrine I made last week for a snowed-out dinner party. After it came out of the oven I pressed it, putting a little reed mat over foil on the surface, and weighing it down with several cans and a small sack of black beans (reminder to self: make Terence Hills' beans this weekend, while Vince is in Montreal - he doesn't do beans).
The weighing down served to push the meaty bits below the surrounding and melted layer of fat from the apple wood-smoked bacon, and compressed everything into a brick shape, very easy for slicing, once chilled.
The pale bits you see are white meat from the rabbit, the darker bits are chopped-up liver and kidneys, and er, well...rabbit sausage. Patricia Wells said to season with juniper - which seemed a great fit for rabbit, and Richard Olney recommended a bread crumb paste with garlic, so I added that, too. The terrace provided lots of thyme.
I was trying to remember when I ate my first slice of terrine; ever, I mean. It was probably in Constantia, at home - every year we had a big 'Spring Breakfast,' lasting from about 11am till late. Days and days were spent cooking for a spread the likes of which Cape Town has probably not seen since. My mom always made chicken liver terrines - in texture practically indistinguishable from a pâté except that they were baked in a terrine dish in a bain marie in a low oven. Raymond Blanc's recipe in particular was creamy and silky and slightly alcoholic, with a fat content that does not bear thinking about - lethal in large doses. And absolutely delicious, spread onto thin toasts.
This version above is more in the style of country terrine - rougher, robust, good for some very lucky peasants. Which always makes me think of my ancestor on my father's side, the first Francois Villon, who arrived in South Africa around 1679. What kind of France did he leave, fresh from wars that stripped Europe. What did he eat? Could he cook? Did men cook?
Had he ever eaten a rabbit terrine?