Tag: Pancetta

Pheasant and Chestnut Terrine – not just for Christmas

Pheasant and Chestnut Terrine – not just for Christmas

I do wonder why we tend to reserve so many lovely things for Christmas eating when they are so good for other times too!  Whilst this one was chosen as our Christmas terrine it would work really well throughout the whole of the ‘game season’ from November to the end of January when pheasant is so plentiful!  That would give you really seasonal eating. As all the ingredients can be frozen you can of course extend this to other parts of the year too.

We have made this previously using both fresh pheasant and also using ‘confit pheasant’ that we had made earlier.  On balance I think the latter is preferable but not strictly necessary (confit pheasant is very easy to do – and confit duck can be purchased and is a really good substitute too).  We were using chestnuts and pancetta that we brought back from Italy, but these are easily available from most supermarkets in the UK.

We were going to use this terrine directly on the table and slice from there and so we wanted to decorate it a little.  Before adding the strips of pancetta we put 3 bay leaves into the base of the terrine and then placed the pancetta over these in the normal way to hold them in place.

When turning the terrine out this would leave the bay leaves as decoration on top of the pancetta as you can see in the picture.  All that was left to do once put on the serving board was to place 3 juniper berries in the centre of the bay leaves to finish off the decoration.

The terrine was built up in stages, so after lining the dish with pancetta the meat mix (see below for step by step details) was packed in, taking care to exclude any air pockets.   When half full the reserved pheasant breasts were sliced and arranged over the mix.  This was followed by the remainder of the chestnuts.  This way they would provide a distinctive layer.

The terrine was then filled with the remainder of the mix.  It is worth taking care to ensure that the mix is packed in well to the chestnut layer so that there are no air pockets or the terrine is likely to crumble when trying to cut it.

Finally the pancetta was folded over the domed mix to finish off the preparation.  The top was covered with some lightly oiled foil and the lid was popped back in place. The cooking can be done either in the BGE as we did or in a domestic oven.  Either way the terrine needs to be placed in some form of Bain Marie to make sure the terrine cooks gently and evenly.  The cooking time was around 2 hours at 120C.

During the cooking it is worth draining off any excess juices or this will just end up in the water of the Bain Marie. To check that the cooking is complete, ensure that the juices run clear when pierced with a skewer but more accurately, check with a thermometer probe that the centre has reached at least 65-70°C.  The terrine will feel quite firm.  Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes. At his point 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.

In the morning carefully release the terrine from it’s dish.  This can often be done by running a knife  around the terrine keeping it close to the dish.  If using a big terrine, as in this case, that may not be enough.  The best way to release it is then to stand the cool terrine in some warm water just for a couple of minutes to slightly soften the jelly that surrounds the pancetta.  The pheasant and chestnut terrine was tipped out and wrapped in clingfilm and put straight back into the terrine dish once it was washed and cleaned.  Putting it back into the terrine preserves the shape and the cling film allows for easy and reliable release from the dish itself.

When ready to serve, all that was left to do was to dress it with the 3 additional juniper berries and a little holly as an appropriate winter decoration. Then give it pride of place on the table!

Footnote:- there are so many potential variations to this terrine whilst keeping the ‘game theme’ – one we have really enjoyed is a mix of confit duck and pheasant – but try your own combinations and let me know how they workout!

Pheasant and Chestnut Terrine

January 3, 2020
: 6
: 1 hr 30 min
: 2 hr
: 3 hr 30 min
: Moderate

Pheasant and Chestnut Terrine - a perfect autumn and winter dish - not just for Christmas

By:

Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped
  • 750g Pork Mince
  • Small handful of chopped Pancetta
  • 4 chicken livers
  • 2 Pheasant breasts and 2 pheasant legs
  • Handful of sausage making rusk or breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp of aromatic Gin
  • 1 tbsp of Port
  • Freshly chopped Thyme
  • Freshly chopped Rosemary
  • Freshly chopped Oregano
  • Some fennel seeds or fennel fronds
  • 12 crushed Juniper berries
  • 6 crushed cloves
  • 1½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Large handful of cooked chestnuts
  • 20 slices of pancetta
Directions
  • Step 1 Heat the oil in a pan and gently soften the onion for around 10 mins – cool
  • Step 2 Reserve the 2 pheasant breasts, half the chestnuts and the 20 pancetta strips
  • Step 3 Finely chop the liver and chop the meat from the pheasant legs being careful to exclude the bony tendons from the drumsticks.  Mix all the other ingredients except those being reserved.  Once all mixed together it is a good time to test the seasoning.  To do this, fry a little piece of the mix in a pan, then taste and adjust as necessary.
  • Step 4 If cooking in the BGE, set up for indirect cooking at around 120C.  A domestic oven can be used in the same way.
  • Step 5 Set 3 bay leaves in the base of the terrine and then 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 sliced pheasant breasts and the other half of the chestnuts.  Add the rest of the terrine mix, pushing it well into the pheasant and chestnut layer (it will dome slightly above the terrine).
  • Step 6 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 65-70°C.
  • Step 7 Remove from the oven 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 8 Slice thickly and serve with your preferred accompaniment
Venison, Chestnut and Porcini Casserole

Venison, Chestnut and Porcini Casserole

Venison is such a lovely meat to casserole on the Big Green Egg.  The EGG seems to overcome that one problem you can have with venison – its tendency to dry out.  To be able to combine this with a seasonal ‘bounty crop’ was just too good a chance to miss.  We had been given some beautiful cubed venison which seemed to contain a mix of the more obvious stewing pieces of venison with some of the more tender braising cuts.  Unfortunately, this was all the information we had, nor did we know from which type of deer the venison came.  In reality any venison listed for braising or casseroling would be fine.  The most likely source would be shoulder venison.  We also had some  fresh chestnuts that we had picked when walking in Italy and had brought back to the UK in our cool box!  We also used our own dried porcini mushrooms that we had dried when in Italy which made the dish very special for us.

Preparation was relatively simple and was done on the stove top – but could have been completed on the EGG if it hadn’t been raining so heavily.  The mushrooms were covered in cold water and left for 5 mins.  This first water was poured away to remove any debris and then they were covered again with around 300ml of just boiled water and left for 20 mins.  Meanwhile our Dutch oven was heated and a little oil added, followed by the cubed pancetta and a couple of bay leaves.  We were using some homemade pancetta, but shop bought would work equally well. Once the pancetta pieces were lightly coloured and some of their fat had been rendered they were removed from the pan and set aside in a bowl.

The venison was then lightly floured with a seasoned flour and fried off in batches in the Dutch oven.  It is important to fry them until each piece takes on some colour.  These were then set aside too.  Then into the pan we added the roughly chopped onion and as soon as that was taking on some colour the chopped garlic followed by the carrots and finally the celery.  Usually in a dish like this we would chop the vegetables finely – but on this occasion we wanted a combination of finely chopped for flavour and coarsely chopped for texture and visual appeal.  These were all stirred through the oils to lightly sauté.  The herbs and spices were then added and cooked for around 15 mins in total.  It may be necessary to add a little more oil at this stage.   The tomato puree and some red wine were then added and the heat on the Dutch oven turned up to deglaze the pan.  In the absence of any juniper berries a slug of gin was also included.  Once the pan was deglazed the venison and pancetta were reintroduced together with the rehydrated porcini (chopped if too large.)

Finally the mix of beef and chicken stock, together with the porcini soaking liquor was added and the whole pan was brought up to a simmer.

The uncovered Dutch oven was put into the large BGE set up for indirect cooking at around 110-120C for around 2 hours (1.5-3hr depending on the toughness of the meat).  

Around 30 mins from the end of the cooking 2 large handfuls of cooked chestnuts (these had been boiled and peeled) were added together with a tablespoon of redcurrant jelly.

 

Venison chestnut and Porcini Casserole

November 25, 2019
: 6
: 40 min
: Straightforward

A venison casserole enhanced with the autumnal tastes of chestnuts and porcini mushrooms

By:

Ingredients
  • 25g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g pancetta (or smoked bacon) lardons
  • 1kg venison shoulder, cut into 2-3cm dice
  • 1-2 tbsp flour
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 celery sticks, coarsely and finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, coarsely and finely chopped
  • A sprig of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A pinch of ground cloves
  • A pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 200ml red wine
  • 200ml of mixed chicken and beef stock ! Suggest one stockpot of each
  • 1 tablespoon recurrant jelly
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 large handfuls or 1 pack of cooked chestnuts added near the end
  • 400g mushrooms sliced added at the end
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper
Directions
  • Step 1 Cover the mushrooms with cold water and leave for 5 mins. Pour away this first water. Cover again with around 300ml of just boiled water and leave for 20 mins.  
  • Step 2 Heat the Dutch oven and add a little oil followed by the cubed pancetta and a couple of bay leaves. Once the pancetta pieces are lightly coloured and some of their fat has been rendered remove from the pan and set aside in a bowl.
  • Step 3 Flour the venison with flour lightly seasoned with salt and pepper and fry off in batches in the Dutch oven till the meat takes on some colour. Set aside.  
  • Step 4 Add the roughly chopped onion to the pan and as soon as that was taking on some colour add the chopped garlic followed by the carrots and finally the celery.  Stir through the oil to lightly sauté.  
  • Step 5 Add the herbs and spices and cook for around 15 mins in total.  It is may be necessary to add a little more oil at this stage.  
  • Step 6 Add the tomato puree and some red wine and increase the heat on the Dutch to deglaze the pan.  In the absence of any juniper berries add a slug of gin.  
  • Step 7 Once the pan is deglazed reintroduce the venison and pancetta together with the rehydrated porcini (chopped if too large).  Add the mix of beef and chicken stock together with the porcini soaking liquor and bring to a simmer.
  • Step 8 Put the uncovered Dutch in the large BGE set up for indirect cooking at around 110-120C for around 2 hours (1.5-3hr depending on the toughness of the meat). When within about 30 mins of the end of the cooking add the cooked chestnuts and a tablespoon of redcurrant jelly.  Heat some butter in a large frying pan and cook the chopped fresh mushrooms until they start to wilt. Season well and cook until they take on some colour then tip into the venison pan and stir through.
  • Step 9 Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. If the casserole is too fluid – mix a little cornflour in cold water and add some of the stock to this and then stir through the casserole and cook for 10 mins more. Serve with mashed potatoes and add some freshly chopped parsley
Italian Pork, Chicken and Chestnut Terrine – variations on an Autumn theme!

Italian Pork, Chicken and Chestnut Terrine – variations on an Autumn theme!

This is a very short follow up on the Autumn Pork and Chestnut Terrine blog from a few weeks ago which you can find here.  This was largely the same recipe and so we will not repeat that here.  The differences were simple and largely for visual appeal.  Instead of confining the pancetta lardons to a layer in the middle of the terrine, these were mixed into the terrine mixture.  Their place was taken by a thin layer of chicken breast.  This had been cut off some chicken we were going to eat that evening.  On top of the chicken layer we added a more substantial layer of the boiled chestnuts.

The final difference was that we bought enough pancetta slices this time to cover the whole terrine!  In the UK if I buy pancetta it is usually cut a little thicker than we find in Italy.  We therefore tend to stretch it and thin it a little by running the back of a knife along its length. There was no need to do that with the thinner pancetta.

We have also been asked what we would use instead of the Tuscan sausages when we cook this in the UK.  The answer is quite simple in that these Tuscan sausages are just minced pork (a mixture of shoulder and belly usually) with a generous dose of salt and pepper.  So in the UK minced pork bought from a butcher or pork minced at home.  The only point to watch is that Italian pork tends to be more fatty than the pork we have become used to in the UK.  It is this that gives it its special taste.   So if you are trying to recreate this don’t stint on the pork fat.  Indeed, if you get the chance (in the UK) add a little more!

As the sausages in Tuscany are already seasoned we have needed to add less salt and pepper to the overall mix. If using minced pork you will need to add more.  If in doubt – fry a little of the mix off, let it cool well and taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.  Alter the overall amounts of the ingredients to suit the size of your terrine.  If you keep the proportions similar to this you won’t go far wrong.

 

For the Original recipe: – Click here

 

 

Pork and Chestnut Autumn Terrine

Pork and Chestnut Autumn Terrine

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 (more…)

La Scottiglia revisited – how close had we got in recreating this dish?

La Scottiglia revisited – how close had we got in recreating this dish?

We were very lucky to be able to go back to the restaurant La Scottiglia in Pescina near Seggiano in Tuscany.  Last year, 2018, we wrote about the wonderful dish La Scottiglia that the restaurant has been named after since 1972.  This year we arrived early for a Saturday lunch and were welcomed like long lost friends by the owner.  He immediately started to talk about the recipe and blog we had written last year when we had tried to recreate La Scottiglia (see here).  He offered his congratulations for our efforts and his apologies for not writing something on the website as it would have been difficult to do so in English!

We were shown down to the terrace so we could eat outside in the dappled early autumn sunshine and were  immediately met with a Prosecco aperitif, clearly we were going to have a good lunch!

The menus were newly printed and now carried English translations which was nice.  More staggering was that on the back page was a new description of the history of the restaurant.  We were pleased that the information that we had managed to piece together from the internet seemed to be largely correct – if only it has been present before it would have saved us hours of searching (but then, where is the fun in that!!).

Jackie ordered  a Tuscan Pâté, and then ricotta filled Tortellini with truffles.  For a main course I had the wild boar – but for my starter there could only be one choice – La Scottiglia.  It was with a degree of ‘bated breath’ I tried it – had we got close with our recipe or had I deluded myself?  I needn’t have worried  (too much)!!  Our interpretation was close, though not  identical!  This was ‘softer’ with a little more liquid.  I think there was just a slight hint of chilli which ours did not have and probably a little less tomato.   Also the bread at the bottom of the dish was thinner – and had soaked up less of the glorious juices. So overall a slightly more ‘gentle’ taste than ours – but I think we can be pleased  as we have only been making it for a year rather than for more than a century!  I think we can be reasonably comfortable that ours was a suitable ‘homage’ to this most regional of dishes!

And our plans for this autumn     ……………….. to get closer still!!

Venison leg and Onion Jam

Venison leg and Onion Jam

We were given a venison joint by a good friend!  The details of the beast from which it came were a little unclear – the cut was in doubt too (but probably boned leg)!  It was thought to be Red Deer but we did not know how old the animal was.  When ever in doubt as to the age of the animal I tend to assume that it would be old.  This way we treat the meat as though it may be a little tough and cook accordingly.  So for this reason we planned a ‘slow cook,’ cooking at a low temperature but for a longer time. (more…)

Smoked Venison Ragu

Smoked Venison Ragu

We had planned to make a very rich casserole using some cubed shoulder of wild venison that we had picked up just before Christmas.  With all the festive excitement it had been popped in the freezer.  Once defrosted I was a little disappointed to see that the cubes were a little smaller than I had thought – it was clearly not destined to make a venison equivalent of “Daube of Beef”.  A quick rethink took us from France to Italy and from Daube to Ragu!  The recipe is simplicity itself. (more…)

Our Christmas Terrine

Our Christmas Terrine

Having finally come to the conclusion what we were going to include in the Christmas Terrine it was time to put it all together!!  The one thing we have learned this year making terrines is that (more…)

Game Terrine – getting in practice for Christmas

Game Terrine – getting in practice for Christmas

We had fun making terrines on the Big Green Egg over the summer when on holiday in Tuscany.  So now it was time to put some of that experience together as we get ready for Christmas.   (more…)

Rabbit served Tuscan style

Rabbit served Tuscan style


This is really a footnote to the recipe “Slow cooked rabbit with boozy apricots”.   Slow cooked meat dishes with a rich sauce are often served in the same way that the Tuscans serve their rich soups, (more…)

Slow cooked rabbit with boozy apricots

Slow cooked rabbit with boozy apricots

Rabbit has been a European staple for certainly the last 3000 years and was introduced into Britain by the Romans in the first century AD under the Emperor Claudius.  Its popularity throughout Europe has remained strong but in the latter half of the last century became much less common in Britain.  This is a real shame as it is an excellent protein source and a reasonably versatile meat.  On the whole it should be cooked either very quickly or very slowly – when it can be fantastic – cooked somewhere between these extremes and it tends to be tough, dry, or both!

The way we have cooked it here is a slight variation on Jackie’s classic rabbit with prunes recipe which we have enjoyed together for the last 40 years or so!  This particular recipe is cooked with ‘boozy apricots’ (more…)

Chicken Breast with Blue Cheese wrapped in Prosciutto Crudo

Chicken Breast with Blue Cheese wrapped in Prosciutto Crudo

This is a ‘super simple’ dish to do on the Big Green Egg or indeed most BBQs that have a lid you can close.  It is an ideal dish for mid week when you want to cook something fresh, ideal for eating outside in the summer, but you want it quickly!  First set up the (more…)