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FOOD Beef tongue and liver terrine



A terrine less travelled

Redmond Cabot

You’d be hard-pressed to find beef better than Irish beef anywhere in the world. Our temperate climate and lush grass growth create fabulous, natural beef-rearing conditions.
In my last article I mentioned I would look at beef and some unusual cuts. I have talked with farmers and producers, butchers and chefs, and there is a simply amazing variety of delicious beef cuts and dishes. Beef on the bone for roasting, lean-beef mince, succulent beef steaks with delicate fat marbling, beautiful beef ribs, slow-cooked soft beef cheeks… the list goes on.
For some unusual cuts, Seamus and Alan Hawkshaw from Hawkshaw Butchers in Westport helped me out with a beautiful piece of beef tongue and some fresh liver. Go to your local butcher and chat with them about their less-run-of-the-mill cuts – they’ll be happy to help you out. A whole new world of taste awaits…
Beef tongue and liver are often forgotten about, but I love playing with textures and flavours, and somewhere in my brain cavern I thought the two might make a good match. Some slow cooked onions and some fresh herbs would be all that you need to showcase them.
I thought I would try my hand at a terrine. It sounds fancy but like all things once you get the hang of it, it all makes sense.
A terrine is a French dish that is packed tightly into a rectangular dish (Small loaf baking tin) and cooked in the oven bain-marie style (in a water bath). It is like a pate, but often more coarse in structure. Game, pork, minced meat, poultry or vegetables can be used. These are usually mixed with herbs and some fat, or wrapped in streaky rashers. The terrines are served cold or at room temperature. They look fantastic.
I love a terrine’s interplay of texture and flavours, and because it is cut as a slice from a loaf, you can feast your eyes on a cross-section of the ingredients. You can mix up smooth, mixed forcemeat with larger, individual pieces of meat to achieve visual and textural contrast.

Beef tongue and liver terrine
A good recipe to start with; easy and compact. You will see how the lime, sugar and herbs affect the meat even before any cooking takes place. Drop the chillies if they don’t suit you.

What you need

  • 500g beef tongue
  • 250g beef liver
  • 2 handful breadcrumbs
  • 2 medium white onions, chopped
  • 7 streaky rashers
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 sprig parsley, chopped
  • Splash of brandy or something like it
  • Seasoning

What you do
You can use smooth forcemeat or chopped meat, or a mix of both, it’s up to you. Add everything except the onions into a mixing bowl and mix well with your hands. In a pan, fry your onions for two minutes, then add in all the other ingredients. Stir for four minutes to start the cooking process and allow the flavours to intermingle. Remove from the heat.
Line a loaf tin or a terrine dish crossways with streaky rashers, so that they hang over the sides and can be folded over the top of tin when filled. Fill the tin with your mixture, and press it down with your hands, and fold the rashers over the top. Cover with tin foil and place in a roasting tray half-filled with warm water. Cook for two hours at 160 degrees.
This bit is important. When your terrine comes out of oven, it needs to cool for several hours, and should have some weight applied to it from above, so that it is pressed as it cools. Use another tray, or a piece of wood, with a weight on it. Some people actually cook the terrine wrapped in food-grade cling film – the water bath will prevent it burning. I did it that way, it helps with the pressing.
Of course I got my first attempt wrong! I used too much salt, and selected too rough a blend for the tongue. Less salt and a finer mix would have been heading in the right direction. Try a version yourself, and enjoy the journey.

Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.