The lamb galantine I made for Saturday's ninth annual terrine dinner was very good but not exceptional in and of itself except for the method of assembly which successfully wove petals of filet meat cut from a leg of lamb into a single mat of meat that could be stuffed, rolled, braised and sliced--my own invention. I was extremely happy with that part and the Middle Eastern flavor profile I chose to anchor the plate, but were I to attempt a lamb galantine again I wouldn't repeat the stuffing, which included too much raw, fat free, ground lamb that created a firm and relentlessly brown filling. Should have had a LOT more bread crumb and some fat (butter) for tenderness.
To put more excitement on the plate, I decided a vegetable terrine would up the ante with color and flavor. I chose carrot because what's brighter than orange, and then went looking for recipes and found exactly--none. Still, I knew it would work--I was just on my own to figure out how. I decided that saffron would be it's primary seasoning, and submitted the description "carrot-saffron terrine" to Bill for publication before I started working on the dish.
The resulting terrine was absolutely perfect. Carnivore Bill called it the star of the plate, and it was--and very welcome after five courses of meat. I'm not a measurer, but I paid careful attention to amounts in case I had to tweak a second attempt (didn't need it), so I do have a recipe to share. Here's a picture of the salad we had for lunch yesterday made out of the leftovers from both terrines.
First, I peeled, chunked into 1" lengths, and cooked 2 lbs of carrots in a large saucepan with enough about a cup of chicken broth--enough to wet the bottom of the pan and provide a steaming medium. All but a teaspoon or two of the broth disappeared in cooking, so no draining was neccessary before dumping the carrots into a food processor for a fine chopping. The carrots were cooked only until just tender enough to break with a fork and while still retaining most of their color, about ten minutes. That netted about 3 1/2 cups of carrot stuff (packed) in what you might call a coarse puree, where coarse means the largest bits are grains of sand. Meanwhile, a fat pinch of saffron threads steeped in 1 cup of very hot heavy cream, and when both cooled down I mixed them together.
A seasoning check confirmed that the saffron worked brilliantly with the carrot. From there, a few cranks of black pepper, a few pinches of sugar to highlight the saffron element, and about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt for brightness and balance were added.
Once the flavors were right, I had to figure out how much gelatine was needed by chilling small batches and testing their moutfeel and cuttability. I've never used gelatine in anything so dense so wasn't sure how much would be needed but guessed it to be less than a liquid so I I started with a mere teaspoon (each envelope holds 2 1/2 tsps). That did absolutely nothing, and a whole envelope wasn't noticeably better. In the end, it took three whole envelopes of gelatine to get the silky solidification I was looking for. Each was dissolved in as little chicken broth as I thought I could get by with since I didn't want to load it with more liquid. About [b]1/3 cup of additional chicken broth[/b] was added during this stage. To prepare gelatine, stir the powder into the room temperature liquid to disperse it then microwave it in 30 second intervals, or add very warm (but not very hot or boiling--excess heat breaks gelatine down) liquid, to dissolve it. (Use a clear glass bowl for this step, as gelatine clarifies as it dissolves and you can see when dissolution has occured.) Incorporate the gelatine mixture into the carrot mixture.
Line a loaf pan or other terrine mold with cling film and load in the carrot mixture. Use a spatula to press and flatten the mixture to ensure there are no voids. Chill for 3 hours before turning out onto a clean surface and slicing.
Vegetable broth, or even water, would, of course, be a reasonable subsitute for the chicken broth. Being that I was pairing this terrine with a strong meat, though, I wanted as much flavor in the terrine as possible chose chicken instead.
For the purposes of this event only, I also added the seeds from about eight cardamom pods. I wanted an exotic flavor that would boost rather than mask the saffron, and I tried a number of items in the pantry before liking the match with the cardamom. But it wouldn't be an essential element in a future version of this dish, where the saffron most definitely is.