Tag Archives: pate

Russell House Tavern

14 Feb

Most amazing selection of house made charcuterie

Valentine’s Day is here, and again Susan and I will acknowledge its existence, but we won’t be buying flowers or going out to dinner.  I’ve never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day as it always seemed to be more of a greeting card holiday than anything else.  Susan and I came together eleven years ago now, and when February rolled around the first time for us, she expressed the very same feelings for the 14th day of the second month of the year.  “Everyday is Valentine’s Day” she explains, and last Thursday we shared our own Valentine’s dinner at Russell House Tavern in Harvard Square.

Some plans changed at the last-minute for Susan last Thursday night so we decided to take the opportunity to meet in the Square after work for a drink and some appetizers.  I follow Russell House Tavern Executive Chef Michael Scelfo on twitter, and I’d noticed that he had been busy all week preparing some new forcemeats and charcuterie.  With tweets like this, “foie gras, fernet, & duck terrine. country-style and wrapped in bacon @russellhousetav,” Susan and I were very excited.

Everything was amazing.

I arrived at the Russell House early and stopped upstairs at the bar for a drink and some oysters.  Nick was behind the bar and in short order I had a Last Word and six oysters, from Island Creek in Duxbury.  I was introduced to the Last Word, a prohibition era cocktail that has recently made a comeback, at The Russell House and it can’t be beat.  I plan on a full post on the Last Word soon.

Susan's Ozark Heritage Pork Trio with Grits and Sauce Vinegar

Susan had the Ozark Heritage Pork Trio, and it was a tasty plate of perfection.  Served atop grits, the pork loin, belly, and shoulder were prepared in three different manners that complemented each.  My preference was the smoked shoulder, but they were all pretty amazing.  To top it off, I even scored the left-overs for lunch the next day.

Duck Confit

I was going to pick the pork trio as well, but in the interest of sharing, I chose the Crispy Long Island Duck Confit.   It came with a stew of black figs, fresh sage, roasted chestnuts, and pork belly.  The duck confit was done to perfection, falling off the bone as I dug at it with my fork.  The crispiness of the duck skin and the depth of flavor was off the chart good.

Orange Creamsicle

We finished the evening sharing a dessert, an Orange Creamsicle.  A vanilla & orange mousse, with creamy caramel and orange candy on top was the perfect finish to one of the most lovely anti-valentine’s days ever.  Service at Russell House was outstanding, as good as we’ve ever had. We were greeted downstairs by Andrew and shown to our table. Despite the place being full, Steven, our server was efficient, knowledgeable and most helpful.

Remember, Food is Love!

Cheers,

Justin

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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