Terrine of chicken livers and pork fillet

One Soho institution that has disappeared, with few mourners to regret its passing, is the small, seedy, private drinking club. These poky little places only really functioned in the afternoon, serving die-hard drinkers during the two and a half hours between lunch and dinner. All-afternoon opening hours in pubs effectively finished them off. One of the seediest was Le Caveau at 49 Frith Street, in the basement. It was run by a grumpy Frenchman called Jacques, a lousy barman but a marvellous charcutier, who made terrines for the Old Compton Wine Bar before I became chef there. Shortly after I started Jacques disappeared, taking his marvellous terrine with him. This recipe is my attempt to recreate its flavour. Le Caveau no longer exists, it closed ten years ago to re-emerge as the downstairs dining room of my restaurant.

Ingredients

  • 2 pork fillets, trimmed of all gristle and sinew
  • salt
  • 50 g butter
  • 200 g streaky bacon

Marinade

  • 100 ml white wine
  • 1 tbsp cognac
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped off the stalks
  • 1 bay leaf

Forcemeat

  • 250 g chicken livers
  • 250 g fatty pork mince (ask your butcher to mince a piece for you on a coarse blade)
  • 40 g finely chopped shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • ½ tsp freshly milled black pepper
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • tsp salt

Method

Marinating the Pork Fillets

Cut the pork fillets into 4 equal strips lengthways and place in a dish with the marinade. Add a little salt and leave in the fridge for a minimum of 12 hours.

Making the Forcemeat

Sort the chicken livers into two equal piles. One pile should be the palest and most intact livers, which are set aside for later; the other pile will be the broken and rather bloody bits which need to be coarsely chopped. Mix the pork mince, shallot, garlic, parsley, spices and the chopped livers in a bowl.

Drain the pork fillet from its marinade, add the marinade to the livers in the bowl, and beat with a wooden spoon until you have a homogeneous paste. You now have a choice, because the forcemeat has to be tasted to check if it is correctly seasoned: real hard-cases do the tasting raw and wimps fry a little piece first.

Assembling the Terrine

Give the reserved chicken livers a very brief fry in the butter in a hot pan; the idea of this is to slightly stiffen, not to cook them.

Line a terrine dish with the streaky bacon, leaving plenty hanging over the edge to cover the top. Spread a third of the forcemeat in the bottom of the terrine, and lay half the strips of pork on this. Now add another third of the forcemeat and push the sautéed chicken livers into this. Next add the remaining pork pieces and top up with the last of the forcemeat. Fold the flaps of bacon over to finish the terrine. Cover the terrine loosely in foil.

Cooking the Terrine

Preheat your oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas 3. Put the terrine in a bain-marie, and bake for 1¼ hours. The terrine should have shrunk a little, detaching itself from the sides of the mould. If you are uncertain about how well cooked it is, return it to the oven for a further 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for an hour.

Pressing the Terrine

Cut a piece of cardboard the same size as the terrine and wrap it in foil. Place the terrine on a tray to catch any overflowing juices. Put the foil-wrapped cardboard on top and place 2 kg of weights on it. Leave to press and set in the fridge for 12 hours.

Serving

Terrines are best left to mature for a day or so. Turn the terrine out of its mould and place on a board. A small amount of pink jelly will have set around the meat; this is delicious but has a tendency to sour quickly, so remove if the terrine is not polished off in one sitting. Cleaned in this way and tightly wrapped in clingfilm, the terrine will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Serve with crusty bread and some gherkins.

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