Notes on a failed terrine

I have lost a couple of nights of sleep over this terrine. This may seem like a trivial thing. Its just a terrine, I know. But I don’t like to fail, especially at the expense of another living creature. I had the chef at my current job get a fresh rabbit for me. The rabbit showed up dressed at just under 4 pounds. My plan for the rabbit was to leave the loins whole, grind the rear legs, and braise the front two along with the bones. I created my forcemeat from the ground legs and inlay garnish of the braised meat and seared saddles. The seasoning was simple with thyme, mustard, and olives. Like all of my other terrines, this one was assembled and cooked in a water bath until it reached an internal temperature of 145F. I could tell right away that something was wrong, there was approximately 15% shrinkage. This is typically a problem associated with overcooking the terrine, but my thermometer was calibrated and I pulled it at the right time. It got pressed while cooling overnight.

The texture of the mortar portion was very crumbly the next day, and the inlaid loins had a strange texture. They were very mushy yet dry at the same time.

Just tonight, I consulted Thomas Keller. Like many of the cooks my age, Thomas Keller has been the source of inspiration that has driven us and in refining our technique. In Bouchon, I found a recipe for Rabbit Pate. Reading through the method of preparation, I found that I had executed the technique perfectly. There was one small thing that I had overlooked, the fat content of the Rabbit. Rabbits are naturally lean creatures. Although this had dawned on me while making the terrine, I was so focused on utilizing only rabbit, that I omitted grinding fat into it. Keller uses pork fat back. The ratio is 9oz of pork fatback to only 13oz of rabbit.

So my main error was in the fat to lean ratio in the forcemeat and its crumbly texture. The rabbit loin inlay is another story. Keller doesn’t use the loin in his pate. His is a utilization of the rabbit that is left over after the loins have been harvested for other applications and the legs have been braised. So I sought other sources for this problem. Originally, I though to inlay the loin raw. A review of similar application in the Professional Charcuterie Series books always has the meat sered off to avoid shrinkage during cooking. This makes sense, so I seared the saddle. I only cooked the pate to an internal temperature of 145F. The book tells you to cook it to 170F! So why is the loin so dry?

It may only be the nature of the rabbit loin. More research and experimentation is necessary.

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~ by Schwarvin on August 26, 2008.

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