Terrines tend to be rather formulaic, and the heavy liver-based variations have rather gone out of favour. They are marvellous with bread for an al fresco lunch, but perhaps rather overpowering and filling for a first course. Pressed terrines are much lighter in effect and, having potato in it, this terrine does not need the counterbalance of bread. Skate works particularly well in this type of dish.
A note of caution: when buying skate, smell it to check that there is no whiff of ammonia. I know that many scholarly food writers say different on this matter, going on about skate's urea metabolism and how the fish should smell of ammonia when it first comes out of the water and that this should then die away. All I know from years of buying and cooking it, however, is that if there is any whiff of ammonia it only gets much worse.
Prepare the fish: poach the skate wings in the Court-bouillon for about 15 minutes, until the flesh pulls easily away from the gelatinous bones. Drain. (The meat will come away from the bones in untidy strips, but this really does not matter.)
Line the terrine with film, leaving enough hanging over the sides to fold over the top to cover • Thinly slice the fish and potatoes • Put all the other ingredients in a food processor and chop to combine.
Line the bottom of the terrine with a layer of potato slices, then pack the terrine with alternating layers of the skate, the gherkin mixture and sliced potato until full. You may not need all the gherkin mixture, as the layers of skate and potato should dominate. (Leftover mixture goes well with cold meats.)
Fold the cling film over the top and weight it. The ideal thing to weight it is another terrine of identical size with three medium-sized cans inside it If you can’t do that cut a piece of cardboard to fit inside the top and wrap in foil before placing the cans on top. Refrigerate overnight.
Unmould the terrine by pulling out the film package. Unwrap and cut into
Serve with a light vinaigrette and with blanched French beans or Blanched Spinach Salad.
© 1993 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.