Everybody is serving and making terrines. So isn't it time you did too? Here's your terrine 101.

07 Nov 2009

About terrines

There's really no great difference between a pate and a terrine (the latter is named for the 'mold' it is made in), except that a terrine is usually less formal and never has a crust, whereas a pate might have one. Also, a terrine is often seen as a mixture of different pates. When you get right down to it, both are closely related to meat loaf. But terrines and pates are most often served cold or at room temperature and that's what makes them ideal for a light dinner when accompanied by some good bread and cheese and fruit or hearty salads. Of course you get sweet terrines too, so try our recipes below if you feel like a real treat.

Preparation points

When making terrines:

  • Always keep the fat content, including any lining, in a meat terrine above 40 percent, otherwise it will be dry. Fat is an essential ingredient. For this reason, ask your butcher in the supermarket to slice the 'fat back' or pork fat for you. It will make lining a mould easier, and is less expensive than bacon.

    If you want to see texture and marbling when you slice a terrine, chop ingredients finely and mix by hand. Texture will be lost using a food processor.

  • Recipes often specify more seasoning than you think reasonable. This is because the taste becomes muted once the pâté or terrine is cold, and without the extra seasoning, the flavour can be bland.

  • Allow the fat or bacon to drape over the sides of a mould, giving you enough to cover the top when the terrine is filled. The container should be filled to about 5cm above the rim to allow for shrinkage during cooking. Cover the top with the fat or bacon and decorate with bay leaves.

  • Seal the top with a double layer of foil and put the terrine in a baking dish, filled with hot water that comes halfway up the side. This ensures even cooking.

  • To test whether the terrine is ready, pierce with a knife. If cooked, the juices will run clear and the terrine will have pulled away from the side of the container. Remove from the water bath and place a plate or board on top, adding weight, such as a brick or tinned food, to press down the terrine. This ensures a dense mixture, which makes it easier to slice.

  • Allow at least four hours to cool and refrigerate for a couple of days before eating to allow flavours to develop.

  • 10 things to do with terrines

    Brinjal-and-red-pepper terrine

    Fish terrine with sour cream sauce

    Chunky meat terrine

    Berry terrine

    Chocolate banana terrine

    Chikanda: the Zambian terrine

    Cheese terrine

    Bruce's chocolate terrine

    Frozen lemon meringue terrine

    Fruit terrine with passionfruit coulis



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