Good mashed potato depends on several factors. First, the right type of potato: it must be a floury variety – we always use Desiree. Second, you should bake the potatoes, not boil them. Third, they should be sieved quickly while they are still hot – this will burn your fingers, but that’s a good sign. Finally, they should be combined with the warm milk and butter immediately after being sieved. At the restaurant, or even at home, I use a vegetable mouli placed on top of a combination of warm full-fat milk and salted butter. As they are sieved, they fall into the liquid, allowing no time to cool.
You can buy andouille – a French country sausage made from chitterlings and pork stomach – from any French butcher or, indeed, most good butchers. If they don’t stock them, they should be able to get them for you. You will probably have quite a lot left over, but it is wonderful in salads.
About 3 days ahead, soak the pigs’ heads in lightly salted water for 12 hours to remove the blood.
Drain and singe the heads with a blowtorch to remove any hairs. Place in an ovenproof dish, skin side down.
When the heads are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the bones, eyes and brain, and carefully set the meat aside. Remove the ears and slice them thinly. Combine the meat, ears, parsley, salt, pepper and reduced braising liquid. Set in a terrine or loaf tin lined with cling film. Leave for a couple of days to set and ripen.
To make the caramelized onions, melt the butter in a frying pan and gently colour the onions. Add the sugar and caramelize. Add the vinegar and reduce until almost dry. Add some salt and pepper, a splash of water and cook gently until onions are soft and jammy.
While the onions are cooking, make the potato purée.
Serve the terrine warm, thickly sliced and heated under the grill, with the potato purée and 2–3 thin slices of andouille per person, with the onions layered between them, and some cornichons. You can also serve the terrine cold with a relish.
© 2008 Anthony Demetre. All rights reserved.