Fruity Pork Terrine

Making Pork Terrine

Terrines are easy, pre-prep, smart starters. They are ideal for dinner parties, or when you have guests over. They can feed a crowd, and any leftovers can work as almost like a pâté in sandwiches or on toast. Given their culinary versatility, the lack of equipment usually required to make them- in this case just a loaf tin- and how straightforward cooking is, terrines are a very useful thing to add to you culinary repertoire. So why I hadn’t made one until recently is a mystery to me.

To make a terrine, start with an ingredient that lines a loaf tin well, like bacon or smoked salmon, and line the loaf tin with it. Then, just fill it with whatever you want, and cook if necessary. They’re that easy.

Here’s a recipe for a terrine I made. I started off with a recipe from BBC Good Food, then decided I wanted to change a few things. Overall we found this one to be a little bland, which is why I have added a little more fruit than the recipe was originally designed with, and similarly more herbs. When we served it at a dinner, it went down very well, and quickly. If you want to make a fancy starter, and haven’t done much cooking before, I would highly recommend a terrine as a good place to start- great taste for minimal difficulty. Score one for terrines.

Pork Terrine, Damson Chutney, and Toast

Fruity Pork Terrine

Serves 10-12. You’ll need a large loaf tin to cook the terrine in. We used a friend’s home-made damson chutney to accompany, which worked very well. This is adapted from a recipe from BBC Good Food.

300g pork loin
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp thyme
2 tbsp brandy
16 rashers dry-cured rindless streaky bacon
1kg sausagemeat
100g shelled pistachios
around 30 dried apricots
50g dried cranberries
fruit chutney and toast, to serve

1. Make the pork loin mix. Dice the pork loin. Crush the garlic and add, along with the brandy. Leave for a few hours, or overnight if you have time.
2. Make the sausagemeat mix. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sausagemeat, thyme, pistachios, and cranberries.
3. Assemble the terrine. In your loaf tin, lay the bacon rashers to cover the tin. Put half of the sausage mix in, then a layer of dried apricots (see photo below), then the rest of the sausagemix. Finish off with a layer of the pork loin mixture.
4. Cook the terrine. Heat oven to 160ºC. Fill a large roasting tray with boiling water. Cover the loaf tin with foil, then carefully place in the hot water, then place the tray in the oven for 1hr. Chill until ready to use, scraping off the jelly.


Pulled Pork with Prunes and Polenta Toasts

I find designing main courses quite hard. To cook something exciting- not just some meat, some potatoes/rice/beans, some veg, perhaps a sauce- really requires some thought. Traditional cooking can taste lovely, but something like cassoulet or a homely stew is not fundamentally interesting. Even recipe books are not that inspiring here. It might just be that, in some sense, cooking has evolved to suit our tastes, and our body likes to have protein, carbohydrate, and vitamins and minerals all in the same meal. But that doesn’t make the meal novel and creative. Starters and puddings are much more fun, since you can play around with ideas, and there aren’t many preconceptions as to what the course should be like. So recently, I’ve tried taking different things I have used in starters, or as part of other meals, and combining them to make a fancier main meal. Perhaps a little strange some times, but much more interesting.

Cooked Pork

My latest attempt has been using pulled pork. Pulled pork is slow cooked pork, which become tender enough to pull apart, and is then mixed with a sauce or spices. Normally I make this as a fajita or sandwich filling, and it’s great for feeding a crowd, as you start off with such a large piece of pork. The sauce I use in the pork adds a huge amount of complexity- chocolate, smoke, spiciness, earthiness, sweetness, and nutty flavours are all there. It’s always gone down very well with friends who have ended up with some for lunch, so why wouldn’t it make a good main course? Since it is a little similar in texture to pork rillettes, or a course pâté, I thought some sort of bread/chutney would help bring out the flavours.

Cooked Polenta

Polenta toasts are to be the accompaniment here. In the same way you might have pâté on toast as a starter, this makes the main course ‘strange pâté on strange toast’. Polenta is maize flour, so making toast out of it is not completely out of left field. I’ve also tried polenta chips before, which have worked very well. You end up with a crispy yet granular texture, but a much denser texture than normal toast. Also, the process cooking polenta is great fun, as it can only be described as ‘volcanic’- if you do cook it, be sure to put a lid on the saucepan. Once cooked and set, just finish off under a grill, or frying pan, to get your thin and crispy toasts.

With some roast cherry tomatoes and prunes to provide the ‘chutney’, the course is complete. I really liked it, as did the others who had it, but I will admit the texture of the polenta was a little strange with the smooth pulled pork- definitely an interesting course. If you are wondering what to cook, it can be as simple as just taking your favourite starter and turning the dish into a main.

Pulled Pork, Polenta Toasts and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Pulled Pork with Prunes and Polenta Toasts

Serves 6, with a good amount of pulled pork left over. Takes a long time, but the results are well worth it. The recipe for pulled pork is based on one from BBC Good Food.

1 pork shoulder (~1.5kg)
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 litre chicken stock
1 orange
1 cinnamon stick
1 sprig thyme
2 onions
250g pack cherry tomatoes
2 corn tortillas
50g flaked almonds
50g raisins
2tsp each ground coriander, cumin
1tbsp chipotle chilli paste
25g plain chocolate
9 prunes, best quality you can reasonably get
200g uncooked polenta
1 litre vegetable stock
24 cherry tomatoes, best quality you can reasonably get
oil, for frying

1. Soften the pork. In a large casserole dish, mix the chicken stock, tomato purée, zest and juice of the orange, and cinnamon stick. Add the pork shoulder, top up with boiling water, then simmer for approximately 5 hours, until the pork is tender and falling apart. Remove the pork from the casserole, allow to cool, then pull apart with your fingers, discarding the fat.
2. Make the sauce. Dice the onions, fry, then add, with the chocolate and chipotle sauceto a food processor. Dry-fry the tomatoes until they blister, fry the tortillas, and add to the food processor. Heat some oil in a pan, add the coriander and cumin, then the raisins and almonds. Heat until the raisins absorb the oil, then add to the food processor. Whizz until coarse, and add around 3tbsp of the pork stewing liquid. Mix the sauce into the pork.
3. Make the polenta toasts. In a pan (with a lid on), heat the polenta along with 1 litre of vegetable stock, stirring occasionally. The polenta will spit, so make sure to keep the lid on. After an hour, pour onto a baking tray to cool, spreading as thin as possible. When cooled (~1hr), cut the polenta into triangles. Heat some oil in a frying pan, and fry the polenta toasts for around 4 minutes each side until crispy. You can also do these in a griddle pan for prettier toasts, but I found the charred effect taste too strong.
4. Assemble the dish. Roast the good quality cherry tomatoes for around 30 minutes. Put some pulled pork in a mug, then turn over onto a plate. Slice the prunes, and place them on top, then add the roasted cherry tomatoes and polenta toasts.

Barbecue Ribs and Homemade Baked Beans

Barbecue ribs are hardly something new, and I’m not claiming to be doing something unique with them here. But they give me a chance to sing the praises of marinading and slow cooking. Ribs aren’t a cut of meat where you look at them beforehand, inspect them, and imagine they are a prime cut that you are going to get a lot of meat from, but when given time and attention, they can turn into a very worthy meal. If you are not a confident cook, food like ribs, which benefit greatly from marinading and slow cooking, are a great place to start, as they don’t require a lot of effort, you don’t need fancy equipment, and the results will impress if you are cooking for others. All that is required is to rub some spices into the meat the night before, put the meat in the oven at a low temperature, then wait. I’m sure even the least enthusiastic cooks could accomplish that.

Homemade baked beans always seemed the perfect complement to ribs. Almost like a bean hotpot, you get earthy, warm flavours, while bulking up the less-than-filling ribs. Canned baked beans, like Heinz and Branston, are so ingrained in the British culinary landscape- I think I remember QI suggesting that the British consumed over 90% of the world’s baked beans. We almost think of them as an ingredient in themselves- I might make sausages, wedges, and beans, and not give baked beans a second thought as part of the meal. But the homemade version is really worth trying, again very straightforward to make, and will impress guests (and your own stomach).

Barbecue Ribs

I’ve included a recipe for barbecue sauce here, which I have made a handful of times- it’s a real winner. You may not want to make as much sauce as the recipe provides, and this recipe will make a whole load of ribs, but quantities are easily halved. But if you don’t have time to make it, or the resolve, a store-bought sauce will do well too. Similarly, you can use a barbecue spice mix instead of making your own. All recipes here are adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s America.

Spice Rub:
1tsp fennel seeds
2tsp paprika
zest 1 orange
1tsp dried thyme
1tsp brown sugar
2 cloves garlic
Barbecue Sauce (makes 500ml):
1 onion
10 cloves garlic
2 chillies
10 sprigs fresh thyme
10 sprigs fresh rosemary
small bunch fresh coriander
10 bay leaves
1tsp cumin seeds
2tbsp fennel seeds
2tsp paprika
6 cloves
zest and juice of 2 oranges
200g soft brown sugar
6tbsp balsamic vinegar
200ml tomato ketchup
2tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2tsp English mustard
200ml apple juice
1tsp sea salt
1tsp ground black pepper
1 quantity barbecue rub
1 quantity barbecue sauce
500ml apple juice
4 racks pork ribs, approx 400g each

1. Make the spice rub. Place all of the spice rub ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
2. Make the barbecue sauce. Finely dice the onion, peel the garlic, and de-stalk and the chillies. Fry in a pan with olive oil until browned. Meanwhile, place the thyme, rosemary, coriander, bay, cumin, fennel, paprika and cloves into a blender and blend until smooth. Toss the spices in with the onion mix and add a little more oil, the orange zest and juice, and the brown sugar. Stir well and boil for a few minutes until the mixture becomes a little thicker. Add in the rest of the ingredients to the pan, and reduce until at the required consistency.
3. Marinade the ribs. The night before, dunk each rack of ribs into a bowl containing the apple juice. Coat the wet ribs with the spice rub- really rub it in to get the flavours into the meat.
4. Cook the ribs. Heat the oven to 130ºC and place the ribs in for around 3 hours. About an hour before you want to eat them, take the ribs out of the oven, coat the ribs in the barbecue sauce, then put back in the oven.

Baked Beans

Serves 6-8. Again, adapted from Jamie’s America.

4 onions
2tsp paprika
2-3 dried chillies
4x400g tins pinto or cannellini beans
2x400g tins chopped tomatoes
4 bay leaves
2tsp dark brown sugar
8 rashers streaky bacon
125g stale bread
100g grated cheddar
1tsp dried rosemary

1. Fry onions and bacon. Roughly dice the onion and fry in a pan with the paprika. Finely slice the chillies and add to the onion. In another pan, cut the bacon into small chunks and and fry until brown.
2. Make breadcrumb mix. In a blender, make breadcrumbs from the stale bread. Add the cheddar and rosemary and mix until homogeneous.
3. Bake the beans. Pre-heat oven to 180ºC. Put everything except the breadcrumb mix into a large casserole. Cook for around 1hr30, then sprinkle the breadcrumb mix on top. Return to the oven and cook for another 45 minutes.