Game terrine with brandy-soaked prunes
- December 2023
- Makes 1 large terrine (10-12 slices)
- Hands-on time 1 hour 20 min, plus overnight resting (optional) and overnight pressing. Oven time 1 hour 20 min
Nicholas Balfe’s game terrine makes for a special Christmas dish. The rich, warming festive spices go beautifully with seasonal game and boozy brandy-soaked prunes.
Nicholas says: “A terrine straddles the line between the humble and the celebratory. This terrine keeps well in the fridge, so it’s reassuring to know you’re investing your time in something delicious that will lift up your platters, TV snacks and informal mealtimes from Boxing Day to the New Year.”
After making his name with a trio of London restaurants (Salon, Levan and Larry’s), in 2021 Nicholas Balfe moved to Somerset for a new venture. Holm is a restaurant with rooms, focused on impeccably sourced ingredients.
- 20g (7.9g saturated)
- 16g (14g sugars)
- Dash vegetable oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 10 thyme sprigs, leaves picked and chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 50g unsalted butter
- Pinch juniper berries
- Pinch allspice berries
- Pinch freshly ground mace
- Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
- 500g pork mince
- 250g venison mince or other finely diced game meat (such as mallard/pheasant breast or wild rabbit)
- 250g chicken livers, trimmed
and finely chopped
- 125g lardo, diced into 1cm pieces (see Nicholas’s tip)
- 125g pitted prunes, roughly chopped
- 75g brandy
- 15g sea salt
- 5g freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium free-range egg
- 50g fresh breadcrumbs
- 400g streaky bacon rashers
- Toasted sourdough bread and dressed watercress to serve
For the prunes
- 200g pitted prunes
- 1 black teabag (I like darjeeling)
- 50g light brown sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 50g brandy
- 900g loaf tin or terrine mould
- Digital probe thermometer (optional)
- Heat a dash of oil in a medium pan over a medium heat. Tip in the onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaves and butter, stir in a pinch of salt, then cook for about 10 minutes until the onion and garlic have softened but aren’t coloured. Leave to cool. Meanwhile, finely crush the spices in a pestle and mortar – you want about 5g spice mix in total, so add a little more of everything if you need to. Stir into the cooled garlicky onions.
- Put the rest of the ingredients for the terrine (except the bacon, sourdough and watercress) in a large mixing bowl, then tip in the spiced onions. Mix everything using your hands – squish and squeeze the ingredients to completely combine them. If you have time, cover the mixture and leave overnight in the fridge.
- To make the prunes (see Make Ahead), put all the ingredients except the brandy in a pan and cover with freshly boiled water. Leave to steep for 10 minutes, then remove the teabag and give everything a good stir. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat, then bubble for about 15 minutes until reduced to a syrup. Remove from the heat, add the brandy, then cover and leave to cool.
- Line the loaf tin/terrine mould with baking paper, leaving at least 10cm overhang all around. Cover the paper completely with the bacon rashers. Start at the base, lying some rashers at the bottom, then line them up the sides so they overhang over the top slightly. Heat the oven to 140°C fan/gas 3.
- Transfer the terrine mixture to the tin, flatten the top and cover with the overhanging bacon and baking paper. Cover tightly with 2 layers of foil. Put the tin/mould in a large, deep baking dish and pour in enough boiling water to come two thirds up the sides of the tin/mould. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 65°C.
- Remove the terrine from the oven, take off the foil and leave to cool slightly. Replace the foil, then put heavy weights on top that fit snugly inside the tin/ mould (tins of beans work well). Put on a plate to catch any liquid, then chill in the fridge overnight.
- To serve, carefully unmould the terrine, slice and allow to come to room temperature. Eat with toast, the boozy prunes, and watercress with a tangy mustard dressing
A tip from the delicious. food team: save time by using a food processor to chop the meat in batches, but retain some larger pieces of meat for texture – you want the meat to be finely chopped, not a paste.
The terrine will keep, covered, in the fridge for up to a week. The boozy prunes will keep, covered, in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Nicholas says: “You might need to hunt down the lardo (cured pork fat) from a deli. Or use bacon lardons, which give a similar effect. Fancy turning this into a project? Ask your butcher for some pork back fat (from the loin) and cure it yourself by packing it in salt, black pepper and rosemary for 7-10 days in the fridge. Rinse before using.”
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