Rabbit Terrine

16 Jan

Rabbit Terrine with Cornichons, French bread and mustard

In 1983 I lived in France for the first time, and was introduced to a number of new foods and cooking techniques.   Crepes, snails and Camembert cheese were all local specialities in Normandie, where I lived, and  It was also there where I first encountered horse and rabbit as lunch items on cafe menus and not simply things I saw at the local agricultural fair.  Among my favorite new food experiences at that time was pâté.   I loved the course nature and earthiness of pâté, and the fact that with good baguette it was a meal in itself.

To this day, pâté is something that I have on a regular basis, either out at a restaurant or purchasing a slice along with some cheese for a “wine and cheese” dinner date with my wife.  So the other day when I was going through Thomas Keller’s book Bouchon and saw his recipe Pâté de Lapin, or Rabbit Pâté, I decided I needed to make it.

For obvious reason, the rabbit was the element I thought would be most difficult to acquire, but one call to Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge and I was set.  I spoke with Julie, the charcutiere at Formaggio, and she set me up with a whole rabbit the following week.  I picked up our bunny, we named him Peter, who came from Fresh Tracks Game and Poultry in Vermont.   Peter came skinned and headless, and butchering him would be my first task.

Peter ready for his last dance

Butchering was a new experience for me, but thankfully Saveur Magazine had a “how to” explanation in the latest issue, and my wife had just put it aside for me last week.   I simply followed the directions, and after the first few cuts, it went pretty well and the results I think turned out great.

The end result of my first rabbit butchering experience

After finishing butchering and removing all the meat from the legs, I cut the rabbit into one inch chunks and added some chicken livers into the mix, per the recipe.   I created a spice mixture from salt, peppercorns, fresh thyme, nutmeg and bay leaves, and added that to the bowl of meat chunks, making sure to evenly distribute the mixture among all the meat.

Rabbit and chicken livers, mixed with spices

The meat mixture went into the fridge for a couple of hours to chill, and in the interm I started to prepare the terrine.  We don’t have an actual terrine for this purpose, but I figured that using a bread pan would do just fine.   I coated the pan with some oil and then a layer of plastic wrap.   Once the plastic wrap was in place, I put a line of bay leaves in the botton, and started to layer bacon slices around the whole thing.

Bay leaf garnish in the bottom, which becomes the top

How bad can it be with this much bacon?

We don’t have a meat grinder at home, so instead I relied on our KitchenAid food processor. We’ve had our KitchenAid for a couple of years and it is wonderful.   I had to do the meat in a couple of batches, but it did a great job.  After that I scooped the ground meat into the terrine and after topping off I sealed it off with the bacon.

Grinding the rabbit in the KitchenAid

Filling the terrine with the mix

Ready for the oven

I put the terrine into a large roasting pan, and poured warm water around it until the water was about 3/4 the way up the terrine.   I used another baking pan tuned upside down as the cover over my terrine, and the total baking time was about two and a half hours.   I think if I had an actual terrine what had a lid which closed tighter, the time in the oven would have been shorter.

After checking the temperature with an instant read thermometer and seeing that it had reached the required 160 degrees, I pulled the terrine out, flipped over the top baking pan, and filled that pan with ceramic tiles that we use in our kitchen instead of a pizza stone.  I drained the fat that had gathered in the pan already, and  I placed the whole group of pans and tiles outside on in our “winter fridge” overnight, and the the next day removed the tiles and removed the pâté from the terrine and the plastic wrap.

Rabbit Pâté

After letting the pâté come to room temperature, I sliced off a nice piece and that along with a baguette, some mustard and cornichons it made a wonderful lunch.

Lunch of rabbit pâté

Overall it was a great experience and I like the taste of the pâté.  It has a rustic “country pâté” consistency, which is exactly what I was looking for, and is very flavorful.  Aside from the butchering, the process itself wasn’t as difficult as I imagined, and the butchering a second time would be easier and quicker.  I really enjoyed the process and would encourage anyone to try this.

Remember, Food is Love!

Cheers,

Justin

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One Response to “Rabbit Terrine”

  1. Justin January 20, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    Great job! I’m really impressed with how this turned out. And the photo labeled “Filling the terrine with the mix” is absolutely stunning.

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