One of the main dishes I plan to cook for our Christmas lunch this year is a rustic pork and veal terrine in the French style and served with the traditional accompaniments of crusty bread or toast, cornichons and green salad.
I have also pickled some cherries to have with it. The terrine recipe is a fairly basic one and not at all difficult. You don't need a special terrine dish to cook it in - a souffle dish, Pyrex loaf pan or any ovenproof dish will do. The terrine can be made a few days ahead and will keep for five to seven days in the fridge.
You can vary the recipe as you like. I sometimes add a little chopped bacon and some pistachios and/or prunes. You could add some pig's liver or chicken livers if you like the flavour. Order the meat early as minced pork and veal may be hard to find close to Christmas.
The other recipe today is for vinegret, a lovely Russian salad of mixed vegetables made with ingredients that are always available. As well as potatoes, carrots, beetroots and onion, it contains sauerkraut and dill pickles. It is similar to the better known Russian salad, but without the creamy dressing.
Vinegret keeps very well and I think is at its best after a day or two. It becomes quite pink on standing, which in no way detracts from the taste. You could use pickled beetroot from a jar instead of cooking them yourself. It goes very well with fish and black bread.
Pork and veal terrine
The minced pork and veal should contain a reasonable amount of pork fat to keep the terrine moist. You will need a terrine mould, Pyrex loaf pan, souffle dish or similar with a five-cup capacity to cook the terrine.
750g minced pork and veal
250g pork, veal and/or ham, cubed
½ cup brandy or sherry
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp finely chopped rosemary
½ tsp grated nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
8-12 rashers of thinly sliced bacon or speck, rind removed
1 free-range egg
1 tbsp plain flour or arrowroot
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup pistachios or ⅓ cup walnuts (optional)
2 bay leaves
Mix the pork and veal mince with the diced meat, brandy or sherry, herbs, spices and pepper. Transfer to the fridge to marinate for two hours or longer.
Gently fry the onion with a pinch of salt in the olive oil until soft and golden, not brown. Add the garlic and cook for a few moments, then set aside to cool.
Set up a baking dish in the oven to use for bain marie. Preheat the oven to 180C regular or 160C fan. Line a terrine mould, loaf pan or souffle dish with the bacon or speck rashers, leaving the ends free to fold over the top.
Whisk the egg with the flour (or arrowroot) and salt in a large bowl. Mix in the fried onion, garlic, parsley and nuts (if using); then add the marinated meats and combine all thoroughly. The best way to mix everything together is with your hands. To check the seasoning, fry a little patty of the mixture and taste.
Pack the meat mixture into the bacon-lined dish, mounding the top somewhat and pressing it into the corners. Fold in the bacon or speck ends over the meat and place bay leaves on top.
Cover the terrine with baking paper and then wrap tightly with foil. If your dish has a lid, put that on too. Place the terrine in the baking dish in the oven and tip boiling water around it to come halfway up the sides. Bake for 1½ hours or until the juices run clear. You can uncover the terrine for the last 20 minutes to brown the top if you want. If unsure about it being cooked, poke a skewer in the centre to check it is hot. Remove terrine from the bain marie and oven and partly cool for 20 to 30 minutes.
Cover the terrine with fresh baking paper and position a tray on top and place weights such as two cans on that. If you think it may overflow, place on a tray. Chill for four hours or overnight. Remove the weights and leave terrine in the fridge to mature for a day or two.
Take the terrine out of the fridge 30 minutes before serving. Scrape away any fat with a teaspoon. Serve directly from the terrine mould as they do in France or turn out on to a board. To release the terrine from the dish, dunk it in hot water for a minute or two. Cut terrine into slices and serve with rustic bread or toast, cornichons and a green salad.
2 medium beetroots
2 waxy potatoes
2 carrots, peeled
1 onion or equivalent eschalot, finely chopped and rinsed
2-3 large dill pickles (Polskie ogorki), finely diced
250g sauerkraut, rinsed and chopped
1 x 400g can small red kidney or haricot beans, rinsed or 1½ cups frozen peas
2 tbsp chopped dill or parsley
2 tbsp red or white-wine vinegar
⅓ cup sunflower or olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
sea salt, sugar and freshly ground black pepper
Beetroot, carrots and potatoes should be in about equal amounts. Wash the beetroots and cut off the leaves leaving about 3cm of stems intact and don't trim the roots. This will prevent bleeding. Place in a steaming basket in a saucepan with boiling water underneath. Bring to the boil, partly cover and steam until tender. Top up water as needed. It may take 45 to 60 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the potatoes and whole carrots together in salted water until just tender. Peel the potatoes when cool enough to handle and cut into fairly small dice, about 7mm. Dice the carrots similarly.
Peel the beetroots when cool enough. Rub oil on your hands first to prevent staining. Slip off the skins with your hands and dice to match the potatoes and carrots.
Prepare the other ingredients as listed. If using peas, cook them in boiling water for one minute and drain or microwave.
For the dressing, whisk the vinegar, mustard and seasoning together in a bowl or jar and gradually whisk in the oil. Taste and adjust, it should be quite sharp.
Combine the diced vegetables, sauerkraut, dill pickles, beans or peas in a large container and mix with the dressing. Store in the fridge for a few hours. Taste the salad before serving and make any minor adjustments that are needed. Serve vinegret cold with a sprinkling of herbs for sparkle.