Fruit cheeses, like this damson cheese, are nothing to do with dairy products, but are a rich reduction of the fruit so solid it can be sliced like a cheese. The damson is a small oval type of plum with a very high acid content that makes their flavour just a little too tart, but they do lend themselves to this sort of treatment. You’ll need a large terrine dish about 1.5 litres in capacity.
Ideally make the terrine at least 3 days before you want to serve it. Preheat the oven to 110°C/gas
Line a large terrine with foil and then with the bacon, leaving sufficient overhang to cover the top eventually.
Melt the butter with the oil in a frying pan and gently sweat the onions, garlic and allspice until soft, then leave to cool.
Mix the Madeira and port together in a pan and boil to reduce by two-thirds. Leave to cool.
Mix all the minced meats and fat with the eggs to bind, then mix in the cool onions and cool wine reduction, the rosemary, peppercorns and salt. Use to fill the lined terrine, making sure to pack the mixture in as compactly as possible. Give it a good whack on a chopping board to disperse any trapped air. Fold the bacon over to cover the mix and finally cover with overlapping foil.
Bake in the bain-marie in the preheated oven for about 80 minutes or until the centre of the terrine reaches 70°C. Take out of the bain-marie and leave to cool at room temperature. Ideally leave in the fridge or a cool place for 3 days before using to give the flavours a chance to develop.
To make the damson cheese, put the damsons in a large heavy-based pan with 200ml water and the citrus zests and juices. Cover and slowly stew until soft, about 20–30 minutes. Pass through a mouli or sieve, discarding the stones and stems. Return the pulp to the rinsed-out pan, add the sugar and stir well to combine. Bring gradually to the boil, skim and simmer gently until it looks as if it will set firm when cooled (pop a small amount on a plate and chill briefly to see if it’s setting). When ready, pour into sterilized jars or moulds and let it go completely cold, then cover and store in a cool place. It will keep for 2–3 months in the fridge.
Serve the terrine cut into thick slices, with the damson cheese and good crusty bread.
© 2008 Anthony Demetre. All rights reserved.