We were in holiday in Tuscany in the late summer and early autumn in 2019. This is later in the year than we had normally gone and it certainly felt different. Gone was the searing summer heat and in this agricultural part of Italy everything was gearing to harvest time: grapes, olives, mushrooms and chestnuts!
We were in a region with lots of chestnut trees and whilst the harvest was being undertaken in the chestnut groves themselves, trees along the edge of the grove also shed their bounty on the paths for walkers to collect! Even a short walk began to deliver a generous harvest limited only by the size of your pockets!! I have always loved chestnuts – roasting them has always been a little hit and miss and we have yet to find the ideal way on the BGE! Boiling is predictable, but which ever way you do it, peeling them is tedious!
We are trying when we can to be a little more seasonal in our approach to food – so what could be better than trying an autumn terrine featuring these seasonal beauties! The recipe was firmly based on the second of our Tuscan Terrines that we made last year, which has become our goto pork terrine recipe.
The onion was finely chopped and gently sautéed until softened. These were then left to cool. When on holiday in Italy we use the easily available Tuscan sausages as the source of the minced pork (shoulder/belly) we would use at home. At their best they are just coarsely minced pork and salt and pepper! The three chicken livers were finely chopped as were the 2 cloves of garlic. All the ingredients except the strips and cubes of pancetta and half the cooked chestnuts were all mixed together.
The terrine was lined with the pancetta, slightly overlapping the slices and letting the excess hang over the edge of the terrine. We were a little short of the pancetta strips and so had to do a little patching with some spare prosciutto crudo we had in the fridge to cover all the dish – so note to self for next time!
Just less than half of the mix was then added to the terrine and packed tightly into the corners. Then a layer of chopped pancetta followed by the rest of the chestnuts was added. to make a distinctive layer. The rest of the mix was them packed tightly on top and the patchwork of pancetta that extended over the edge of the terrine was folded back over the domed mix. This was then covered with 2 layers of aluminium foil, greased to stop it sticking to the pancetta. The lid was then replaced and the terrine was ready for the Bain Marie in the BGE. We were using a small cast iron pan as a Bain Marie. This was sat on a piece of baking stone which itself sat on the grill. These all sat on top of the platesetter with the feet upwards.
The terrine was then left to cook at between 120-140C until its core temperature came up to more than 65C – on this occasion we took it to 72C. This took around 1 hr 45 mins. At around 1hr 30 mins the excess juices were drained away (and saved for other cooking) and the terrine returned for the last 15 mins of cooking.
The Terrine was then removed and allowed to cool for 15 minutes. Excess liquid was again poured away. The terrine (with the lid removed was covered in cling film (as a separator) and a piece of cardboard, cut to the size of the inner dimensions of the terrine and covered with foil was placed on the top. This was them weighted and allowed to cool in the fridge overnight.
And the moment of truth? There had been a little less shrinkage than on our previous terrines. We therefore needed to use a thin spatula around the side of the dish to release the terrine itself.
The terrine cut well and despite the volume of chestnuts we had included did not crumble too much. Visually, there was not a really definitive layer of chestnuts or pancetta pieces but the chunky look of the cut surface was really appealing. On the plate the terrine looked attractive and it cut well enough to eat with a knife and fork but could also be spread onto a little toast if you preferred.
The taste was great! The sense of capturing the Tuscan countryside in an item of food was still there and in that the herb selection worked well. The additional pleasure came from the gentle sweetness of the chestnuts (made so much better as we had collected them ourselves – even though peeling them is no great fun!!). And what will we do when we get home and lose access to natures bounty in terms of fresh chestnuts? We will just buy them ready prepared!
…………………this is too good a terrine not to repeat!!
Footnote: we made a few slight modifications for our second making of the terrine – largely for visual appeal – click here for the update
Tuscan Pork and Chestnut Terrine
A pork Terrine with chestnuts that captures tastes and aromas of the Tuscan hillside in autumn
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 Onion, finely chopped
- 5 Tuscan Sausages
- Small handful of chopped Pancetta
- 3 chicken livers
- half a cup of breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp of aromatic Gin - in absence of Juniper berries!
- Freshly chopped Thyme
- Freshly chopped Rosemary
- Freshly chopped Oregano
- Some fennel seeds or fennel fronds
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- Large handful of cooked chestnuts
- 20 slices of pancetta
- Step 1 Heat the oil in a pan and soften the chopped onion for around 10 mins – cool
- Step 2 Mix with all the other ingredients except the pancetta (sliced and chopped) and half the chestnuts. (if you are unsure of the seasoning, fry a little piece of the mix in a pan, then taste and adjust as necessary).
- Step 3 With some form of indirect set up preheat the EGG (or Oven) to 140C (in this recipe we set it to 120C and cooked for longer).
- Step 4 Line the terrine with the pancetta slices overlapping each slice as you go. Leave the ends hanging over the sides. Fill with the mixture, making sure it gets into the corners, when half full add a layer of chopped pancetta and the other half of the chestnuts. Add the rest of the terrine mix (it will dome slightly above the terrine).
- Step 5 Bring the Pancetta up to cover the filling. Cover the dish with lightly oiled foil and add the lid if available. Place the terrine in some form of Bain Marie to make sure the terrine cooks gently and evenly. Bake for around 2 hrs at 120C, drain any excess juices and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes. The terrine should be firm, the juices should run clear when pierced with a skewer. A thermometer probe inserted into the centre should reach at least 65°C.
- Step 6 Remove from the terrine and cool for 15 minutes. Tip out any more liquid, cover with cling film, then place a piece of cardboard covered in aluminium foil on top (cut so it fits the inside of the terrine) and rest some weight on top of this. Allow to cool overnight in the fridge
- Step 7 Slice thickly and serve with your preferred accompaniment