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Terrines, pâtés and eggs

Terrines and pâtés

The word "terrine" derived from the old adjective for "terre" referring to the terra-cotta vessel in which this dish was cooked. Since the 15th century it has been used to designate a mixture of ground meats and spices some flavored with spirits cooked in a rectangular or oval covered dish, lined with some kind of pork fat and then cooked in a waterbath. Not much has changed and terrines are easy to make. A good terrine should be moist and fatty without being greasy and above all never dry. Its color should be faintly pink and not gray or brown.

Recipes for local terrines rely on simple ratios of pork and another meat, herbs, spices and at times Madeira wine or cognac. The terrine dish is always lined with crêpine, caul fat, to ensure its moisture. Unfortunately, caul fat is harder and harder to find. Possible substitutions are blanched fat bacon, fresh fat pork back or blanched fat salt pork. Be sure to decrease the amount of salt used if your substitute is salted. It is very easy to over salt a terrine.

The regional formula seems to be 20 grams of salt per kilo of meat and 3 grams of pepper per kilo. The cooking time of 1 1/2 hours per 2 pounds of meat is approximately correct, a terrine is done when the fat rising to the top is clear. And finally, a terrine improves in flavor after 2 -3 days and should always be served cold.

Although much is made of compressing or weighing the terrine down as explained in one of the following recipes, few local terrines are treated this way and they are generically referred to as “terrine de campagne.”

Terrines are commonly served with an onion condiment or slightly tepid translucent onions and of course with cornichons. They make an excellent starter, or with a salad a nice light lunch.


There are any number of sayings about eggs and recipes for them. Whether the number of recipes figure at 685 as Kichinger said in the mid-19th century or whether the Occitan saying of 500 is to be believed is really not important. But certainly the variety is enormous, the tips many and the tastes varied.

A fresh egg is heavy, when shaken it should feel full. The porous eggshell permits a certain amount of evaporation every day. The classic test is to place an egg into 12% salted water. A fresh egg will sink to the bottom, an egg several days old will float in the water, a bad egg will bob to the top. Most recipes are egg age and size specific, just gathered, 1 day old, large, small, etc. Poached eggs for example should be 2 days old for better results. While raw egged based recipes call for freshly gathered eggs.

Eggs from range fed chickens - worms and the right greens with some grains - are unanimously considered the best. A battery fed chicken is more inclined to constipation than a range fed chicken and, yes, a constipated chicken will lay more eggs. However, over production cuts down on the taste of the egg.
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