Terrine of Wild Rabbit & Pistachios

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Ingredients

  • 1 wild rabbit, deboned (14 to 18 ounces/400 to 500 g meat) (available throughout most of the year—you can also buy farm raised, but wild rabbit has a little more flavor)
  • 1 tablespoon juniper berries
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 14 ounces (400 g) chicken livers
  • 14 ounces (400 g) bacon (or more if not using caul fat)
  • tablespoons (50 ml) cognac
  • tablespoons (50 ml) dry sherry
  • 4 small cloves garlic, minced
  • A pinch of Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • Heaping ½ teaspoon (3 g) curing salt
  • teaspoons regular (kosher) salt
  • A pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • cup (75 g) shelled pistachios
  • A knob of butter for greasing the baking pans
  • A piece of pork caul fat (crépinette) or an additional 11 ounces (300 g) bacon, cut into thin strips

On the Side

Method

A terrine is a pâté that is made in a . . . wait for it: terrine, a ceramic dish that conducts heat evenly. Traditionally a pâté is baked in a dough crust. In French the word pâte means “dough,” but these days the official names have become somewhat mixed up. In France a pâté baked in a crust is now referred to as a pâté en croûte, which you could argue is in fact redundant. But because I like to do things the formal way for this occasion, I will call my pâté a “terrine.”

Although I use a terrine mold for this recipe, you could just as easily use a loaf pan or a baking dish. This recipe is freely based on a recipe given to me by my friend Floris Brester, who in his Pasteibakkerij shop in Amsterdam creates the most beautiful and delicious pâtés.

Ask your butcher to debone a rabbit for you or do it yourself. In general a wild rabbit will yield 14 to 18 ounces (400 to 500 g) of meat. Cut the larger pieces (the thighs, for example) into smaller cubes and set them aside (those should be about one-third of the meat).

Use a pestle and mortar to pulverize the juniper berries and bay leaves.

Mince the rest of the rabbit meat, the chicken livers, and bacon in a food processor—or, if you have one, a meat grinder with the coarse die. Spoon everything into a bowl and add the reserved larger rabbit chunks, as well as the cognac, sherry, garlic, nutmeg, thyme, curing salt, kosher salt, pepper, and eggs. Make sure your hands are spotless before using them to combine everything. Give it a good kneading, until the meat mixture becomes quite sticky. At the end, mix in the pistachios.

Cover and let marinate for about 2 hours, or, better, in the fridge overnight, allowing the individual ingredients to get well acquainted.

Butter two or three ceramic terrine molds or small loaf pans (total volume about 6½ cups/1.5 liters) and line them with strips of bacon or the pork caul fat, laying them inside the molds like a hammock, with plenty of overhang.

Spoon in the rabbit mixture, carefully pressing down to make sure no air pockets are left. Fold the caul fat over the top or place a layer of bacon on top to cover the rabbit mixture. Cover with a lid or parchment paper. Wrap the entire terrine mold in aluminum foil.

Preheat the oven to 250°F (120°C).

Place the terrines on a rimmed baking sheet or oven tray to collect the drips of escaping fat and bake for 2 hours.

Remove the lid and continue baking for another 20 to 30 minutes, giving your pâté a nice brown color. Allow to cool, then store your pâté in the fridge for at least 1 day, but preferably a couple more. This will allow the flavors to fully develop. Slice and serve with one or more of the accompaniments.