Game Terrine – what else to serve at a gathering of vegetarians?.. wait, a 10lb slow roasted pork shoulder!

October 21, 2008


Yes folks, that is correct. I served a game terrine, and a slow roasted pork shoulder to a group of vegetarians. But wait.. this is more than my rather sick, twisted sense of humor (come on.. it is kinda funny).

I wanted to test run a few recipes for a party I am throwing in the new year. The problem is that I really needed a large group of people to do this for, since the party is for a decent sized group of people.

“Well”, I thought… “we are having our parenting (PEPs) group over for some Halloween fun, I could hijack that in the name of food testing”. And so my evil scheme was underway.

I order the pork shoulder. All 10lbs of it. Where from? Where else of course.. Sea Breeze Farm! With a bit of notice they were able to do a custom order for me – a 10lb Boston but, skin and fat still on.

So, I count up the number of people coming, and reckon it will work out OK. The terrine and the pork shoulder, with some bread, and a few other things – perfect. I decide I should really send out an email asking if anyone has any dietary requirements… I seemed to remember one of the parents being vegetarian.

Turns out… drum roll… just over half of them are vegetarian. Wonderful. Don’t get me wrong, I love vegetarians, I can just never eat a whole one.

But seriously.. nothing wrong with going veg.. heck, most people should be eating more veg. But… this was a trial run for a meat party. Being vegetarian is going to leave you a touch hungry.

So, there we have it.. the story behind me feeding a home made game pate, and a slow roasted pork shoulder to a group of vegetarians.

I decided I should really cook something for the veggers, but don’t have a lot of experience cooking for them. Who else to turn to but Heidi Swason? I have her wonderful “Super Natural Cooking” book, and knew that she wouldn’t let me down. Her “Thousand Layer Lasagne” looked like it would fit the bill, and wasn’t complicated or time consuming to make. It turned out bloody perfect – thanks Heidi!

Anyhow.. back to the meat.

So, I have been thinking a lot more recently about French country food. No Haute Cuisine, nothing glam and special. Just simple, clean, well executed recipes that are can be both comforting and extremely presentable at the same time. That, and of course my complete love of Bistro food… which, facing it, isn’t a million miles away from the fabulous tastes of the French Provences.

My mind has gone to game. What to do with rabbits, duck, partridge, hare (like I can find those in the US..). I am actually on a quest to find a decent place to go hunt a few myself. I have had a fascination recently with wanting to do the whole shebang myself – from catching, to killing, to skinning to gutting, and finally to cooking. It seems far to easy these days to become detracted from the real source of meat – a living animal. Supermarkets and even farmers markets make it so easy to stay completely removed from the fact that you are eating another animal, that was living and breathing.

This isn’t some silly macho white hunter bullshit, that isn’t me.. I just want to get back to roots. I think this helps you understand your food a lot better, and that is important.


So.. the Terrine.

This was, by far, the best pate I have ever made. How can I say it with such certainty you ask? Well, it is actually the only pate I have ever made!

Yes, I have eaten my fair share.. in fact, well beyond my fair share. Everything from super smooth liver pate, to something like this – a rustic, coarse terrine, wrapped in bacon. Wait, did I just say the B word?? YES, now I have your attention.

I am more of a rustic, coarse terrine than a smooth rich pate kinda guy. When looking around at some recipes and ideas, two books really give a ton of information on making terrines – French Provincial Cooking, by Elizabeth David, and Hugh Fernley Wittingshall’s books. Michael Rulhman’s Charcuterie book is also a good source of information.

The terrine I made is using a combination of techniques from both books, but my own choice of game, and herbs and spices to accompany them.

What resulted was actually an excellent terrine of pork belly, duck, pork back fat and rabbit – with really great textural variations, and a gamy, but not too gamy taste. Perhaps this is an almost perfect terrine to get you into both game, and pate… it doesn’t have the texture of pureed meat (something someone told me pate tasted like once.. doh), nor does it taste really strongly of game.

My suggestion, as always, is to try and find the best possible ingredients to work with. I got the pork from Sea Breeze, where the pigs are free roaming, which makes a huge difference in taste and texture. The game, whilst not wild, was sustainable and properly raised.

Some notes on this terrine:

You could make this with pretty much any game you choose. Rabbit and duck are good choices for a game pate for those that might not be into game that much, since they are relatively mild. Pheasant would yield a gamier pate I think.

Juniper berries can be found in the spice department of most decent grocery stores.

The pork back fat gives the lovely little white cubes you can see throughout the pate, and helps keep the pate moist.

While traditionally a terrine dish is used to make pate, you can easily make do with a loaf pan. A loaf pan that is 9” long, 5” wide, and 3” deep would work great.. That is what I used for this.. I am sans terrine dish (but that will be the next thing I buy.. I rather enjoyed making this pate.

Game Terrine (serves a lot)

1lb pork belly, ground

2oz pork back fat – cut into dice

1 rabbit, ready for roasting (or just the saddle)

Liver from the rabbit or duck – finely chopped

1 whole duck

8 juniper berries

a few sprigs of thyme, leaves removed and chopped

1 tablespoon of finely ground sea salt

5 black peppercorns

15 rashers of bacon

Splash of red wine

Splash of brandy, or apple brandy

olive oil

a few bay leaves (optional)

Preheat your oven to 375F

Put the duck in a roasting pan. Put the rabbit (or rabbit pieces) in another roasting pan. Roast both for about 30 minutes. This pre-roasting makes it much easier to take the meat of the carcass of the duck and rabbit. If you are using rabbit pieces, roast them for about 20 minutes.

Remove the skin from the roasted duck, once cooled slightly, along with the layer of fat under it. Use a sharp knife and remove both breasts. Remove any meat that is left on the carcass, if isn’t too fatty.

Remove all the desirable looking meat from the rabbit – making sure not to get any tendon or fat. Finely chop the rabbit meat.

In a large bowl, mix together the ground pork belly, the diced back fat, the chopped liver and the rabbit meat. Grind the salt, peppercorns and juniper berries together in a pestle and mortar. Add this and the chopped thyme to the meat mix. Add the splash of red wine and brandy to the mix also. Using your hands, gently but thoroughly mix all this together.

If you wish, you can roast the bones of the duck for longer – maybe another 20 minutes, then make a quick stock from it and a few vegetables (onion, carrot, celery, leek). Reduce this stock down by half, and then add this to the mix also. This will make the pate a lot more game forward.

Cut the larger pieces of duck meat (breasts mainly) into slices about a fingers width. Add some oil to a hot saute pan, and fry these until golden brown.

Lay a rasher of bacon on a chopping board. Run the back of a chef’s knife over the bacon to stretch it out. Repeat for all of the slices of bacon.

Lay this bacon over the inside of the terrine dish. Make sure to overlap each slice slightly. You are wanting to cover most of dish this way. Leave the ends hanging over the edge of the dish.

Put a layer of the ground meat mix in the bottom of the dish, gently pushing it into place – making sure there are no gaps. Try not to push the bacon around too much when doing this. Put a scattering layer of the duck meat pieces over this. Now another layer of the meat mix. And another of the duck, and then finally a top layer of the meat mix.


Fold and stretch the bacon ends over the top of the dish. Add more bacon rashers to the top if needed to completely cover the pate in a layer of bacon (if your rashers don’t stretch over quite enough). Put a few bay leaves on top, and seal top tightly with some tin foil.

Fill a larger baking dish with water, and stand this terrine dish in that. Carefully place this in a 350F oven for 1.5 to 2 hours. You know it is done when the meat is pulling away from the sides of the dish, and when you stick a skewer into the center of the pate, it comes out really hot. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on a rack.

Now for an important step for good texture.. When the fat surrounding the pate is starting to set a little, cover the top with greaseproof paper. Find a board, or lid that fits snugly into the dish (so it will sit on the top of the pate, not on the dish rim). Press the board down onto the pate, and put a heavy weight – a few cans, or a brick on top as it cools.

Allow to cool for a few hours, or overnight – and then bung it in the fridge.

To serve – cut into slices, and serve with crusty bread, and some pickled vegetables.

But wait.. “what is this about the pork shoulder you mentioned in the post title??” you ask.. I will save that for another post.. But think.. a fatty pork cut, with crackling skin, roasted for 12 hours… it would be hard to screw that one up!

OK.. after all this meat, I really need to cook some seafood.

You Might Also Like

  • Y October 21, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    Hahaha.. I’m not vegetarian.. You should have invited me! ;P Great post and great pictures as always, Matt.

  • atypicprig October 22, 2008 at 3:05 am

    You know that you’re going to be paying for that dish in karma for years to come! 😉 I’ll have to check out the lasagna you ended up making.

  • Niall Harbison October 22, 2008 at 10:49 am

    Well done on the blog post, looks like you put a lot of effort into both making the terrine and writing about it/taking photos. As a chef I think terrines are a great way of getting people to eat types of food that they would not normally consider! You can sort of just sneak it in there and when it is sliced people just think it looks lovely and eat it! A great example is Pate. I know a lot of people who would turn their nose up at chicken livers but blend them down and add some butter and it is happy days! Well done on the terrine, looks awesome!

  • matt wright October 22, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    atypicprig – I so nearly converted one vegetarian.. I thought I had it there for a minute.. Next I will try a pigs head on them!

  • brittany October 22, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    I LOVE pate. Love it. Or terrine, or whatever.
    Screw vegitarians! Lets eat MEAT!

  • Judy October 23, 2008 at 12:34 am

    I love that terrine!!! You need to come to Florida and go wild boar hunting and alligator hunting with hubby! Boy could he show you a good time. I really need to do something with that gator in the freezer!!!

  • White On Rice Couple October 23, 2008 at 7:31 am

    Ah! Lol! You are such a trouble maker in the kitchen, whipping up beautiful meat dishes for …vegetarians! But then you had to go ruin the great mood and evening with a …..veggie lasagna?! OK, it shows what a TALENT and compromising cook you are! What a nice guy.

    Lovely, lovely pork back fat. Bacon, pork belly. Geez, all the good stuff that can make any kid-less couples like us wanna have KIDS just to attend your dinners! But until then, we’ll live through the wonderful photographs and lick our screen!

    BTW- all your dishes are really showing your wonderful background more. So rustic, earthy, genuine and real.

  • Julie (Joypup on SCS) October 27, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    This looks lovely, Matt! Oh, the hunting is pretty great on Vashon, I hear. Please, shoot some of our deer!

    Also, I have another good source for quality pork, if you have a chest freezer…

    And even though it is vegetarian, thanks for the lead on the lasagna!

  • Hank November 3, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    Nice terrine; I too am a fan of rustic over refined, especially when it comes to ground meat dishes. You will find it farm more satisfying — if unapproachable to the novice — when you do this with real game, not domesticated animals.

    Which leads me to say bravo! to your desire to go hunting. I hunt or fish for nearly all my meat and am pretty happy living “off the grid” this way. Since most game meats (duck being a notable exception) are so lean, I have become a heavy olive oil user; good thing I have several friends who make it…

    If you decide to take the plunge, I would be happy to help if you have any questions — getting into hunting as an adult can be daunting. Cheers,


  • Peter November 4, 2008 at 2:36 am

    Well done Matt! I know what you mean about the ‘do it from scratch’ thing… i live in Asia, and finding good meat, especially game can be a reall pain in the bu#$%. Been making alot of pasta by hand (hate the bought stuff) works a treat.

  • Rhi November 10, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Hey Matt you cheat! Show us the veggie dishes! I wanna see if you can make them – I secretly think your a meat only guy who can make some gorgeous salads but not veg food!

  • » Blog Archive » Seattle Food Bloggers Meat Party!!! January 21, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    […] game pate I had made before. This is a grind of pork belly and rabbit meat, with seared chunks of duck breast in it – all […]

  • Colloquial Cook September 4, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    I remember reading this post and not commenting, so now I will 🙂 I have just had a look at what Tastespotting offers, rabbit-wise, and choices are sadly, very slim.
    On another note, I am trying to think what we use around French pâtés. Bacon rashers are not that traditionnal, although you can now find them in the supermarkets, but it’s not something people ever ask for on a market. Maybe the French use more crépinette (caul fat)? It would also make this terrine wayyy healthier, haha.

  • claudeneuf November 18, 2009 at 9:47 am

    just a suggestion…..add some finely chopped onions or shallots ,some garlic and breadcrumbs and wrap the whole thing in palma ham or pancetta instead of bacon (less saturated fat)adding another flavour to compliment the game and serve with a spiced pear chutney as they are falling off the trees at the moment just remember that the tongue is undoubtably the hardest of the 5 senses to satisfy ,it always wants more,more and more…pink peppercorns in a terrine are like little explosions of treasure that suprise with heat and perfume ps crepinette is nearly all fat and unless your going to serve the terrine whole you,d lose the decorative aspect ,which in my mind is the only reason to use it in the first place .

  • Tanya February 6, 2010 at 5:53 am

    Ever since I saw that episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern in Paris, I have always wanted to try some terrine. You are amazing!