Ham Hock Terrine

Well then. What’s a girl to do when she claps eyes on one of these?

A little porky trotter.

Well, if she is a cunning and cost concious cook and she also claps eyes on walloping great ham shanks

costing a mere £1.49, well then, the odds are that she starts to think of a delicious ham hock terrine, flecked with parsley and glistening with a soft and tasty jelly, just waiting to be eaten on some lovely No-Knead Bread…. perfect for a lovely light lunch or supper.

All you need are some ham shanks, a trotter (though if you can’t get one, you can use leaf gelatine – easy as anything – and I’ll tell you about that later)

A lovely big bunch of parsley and maybe some gherkins to chop through it later

 and a couple of carrots and an onion for the stock and a scattering of peppercorns

How simple a list of ingredients is that?

So first of all, rinse off your assorted bits of meat and pop them into the biggest pot you have (and really, don’t let that pig’s trotter worry you or put you off. It’s the traditional way to get a lovely jelly but if you can’t find one, or if you can’t face it, just relax. You can add leaf gelatine later)

You need to bring the pot up to a boil for a few minutes – this loosens all the impurities and brings them to the surface as a dirty foam.

See? Get that scooped off and then empty the water out.

Refill the pan with fresh water and start it boiling again, but now add the halved onion (no need to peel it) and a couple of carrots and a handful of peppercorns

Bring everything to the boil and then turn  the heat right down and let everything simmer away for couple of hours.

Check, occasionally, how soft and tender the meat is.

You are going to tear the meat into shreds for the terrine so you need it all to be cooked to sheer perfect tenderness.

See how soft and tender the meat looks? Just hook the shanks out and put them on a plate to cool.

Take out the trotter too – look at how that is all falling apart… it has almost dissolved, giving up all of the lovely gelatine you will need to set the terrine later. There’s not much meat to pick through there, so don’t worry if you haven’t added a trotter. It really has done its job so you can throw that away now.

Sieve the pan of stock of its vegetables and you are left with a pan of rich and flavoursome stock. This is going to form the jelly that enrobes the ham so you want it to be as tasty as possible.

The next thing to do is to boil it down, removing more of the water and concentrating the stock.

Because the jelly is also going to have parsley running through it, I thought I might as well add the parsley stalks to the final boil down, just giving it an extra depth of flavour.  Let the stock reduce some more then turn off the heat, sieve the parsley stalks out and let the stock cool.

If you haven’t used a pig’s trotter, after you have sieved the stock, get a sheet of leaf gelatine and soften it, first of all, in some cold water. When it is all soft and slippery, add it to the stock and stir it round. It will dissolve almost instantly. Now leave the stock to cool down.

While that is going on and the meat is also cooling down (well, you don’t want to burn your fingers when you are stripping the hocks, do you?) you need to prepare the terrine.

I bought that lovely Le Creuset terrine at Christmas and used it, first of all,  to bake a baguette  in and I swore then that I would get cracking on a terrine. It’s taken me all this time to get around to it.

Anyway, the thing to do is to make a liner and the easiest way to do it, is with good old cling film. Lay out sheets of cling film on the bench so you have three layers and then, after rinsing out the terrine dish with water (so everything  comes out easily later and it is easy to adjust the cling film), lay the film inside the pot

Right then… back to the meat.

By now it will be cool enough to handle and you can start to shred the meat into pieces.

Because it has cooled, the fat will have set  so you can make sure that you can leave that behind as well as the skin and the tendony-gristley bits. (Don’t squirm!)

Two ham shanks will give you a really big plateful of tender, delicious, juicy meat

Now, meat alone is very good but you really need something to sharpen it all up and this is where some lovely little gherkins transform this into the perfect dish

Chop them into little cubes so that when they mix with the meat and the parsley and the jelly they give you little bites of sharpness.

And the parsley? You used the stalks to add to the stock, now chop the leaves (and just the leaves, so strip them carefully)

Put the meat, the gherkins and the parsley into a big bowl and mix everything so you have an even distribution of all the ingredients

Now, it’s just a matter of putting everything together.

Pack in the meat and parsley/gherkin mix and then slowly pour in the cooled stock.

I say do it slowly because you need it to seep in and around the meat so everything holds together when it is set. Just pour it in till the stock just covers the meat.

Then fold over the edges of the cling film

See? A lovely neat parcel. And that’s it. It just needs to set now.

Now, you can make a lid to fit, by cutting cardboard and covering it with clingfilm and lying it on top of the meat. This makes it easy to press down on the terrine and helps it set tight… thing is, this was so packed with meat that once I covered the top with cling film  and pressed down lightly, I realised that it was already packed tight.

So all I did was put it in the fridge to set over night…

The next day, planning a lovely light lunch for The Bear and myself, I took out the chilled and now solid terrine.

The cling film made it easy to lift out the terrine

You just get hold of the extra film and lift….. and then pop it onto a plate

How beautiful is that?

The gorgeous pink, juicy meat with leaves of lovely parsley and little nuggets of gherkin all in a lovely, savoury, light jelly….

Just the thing with some lightly toasted bread, some salad leaves and a dab of  parsley mayonnaise.

So, the next time you spot some ham shanks and maybe a pig’s trotter and only about £3.20 in your purse, do you think you might just think of making a delicious terrine? 

Baking a baguette

January, eh? There are many downsides to January – bad weather, enforced dieting because of Christmas excesses – but there are some good points. Sales, for one. And with the terrible state of the economy, the sales start on Boxing Day, if not sooner.

I had been wanting to go to the Le Creuset shop for ages and what I really wanted was to get there in the sale and buy a terrine…. I love making pates and terrines and while I can easily do them in other containers I really, really wanted a terrine. I have a square one but I wanted a long, loaf tin shaped one….

So I dragged the Bear to the car and we set off. Only to find that not only were there no terrines  in the sale, there were no terrines at all.

It’s at times like this that I thank my lucky stars for the Bear because when we got home he started looking for terrines online. He not only found one, he found one at a bargain price……under £50

………………….and it was delivered on New Year’s Eve.

Now, I make No Knead Bread and bake it in either my round or my oval Le Creuset casserole. You need a lidded pot to cook it in because you have to create, as near as possible, a steam oven effect. You have to get it scorchingly hot and throw in the dough and put the lid on to make a lovely chewy crust with a gorgeous, almost caramelised flavour to it. The bread is made from a slow risen dough, which gives it a distinct taste and good texture and crumb.

Thing is, it takes the shape of  the container you cook it in…. so, I thought, if I made it in a long, thin, cast iron pot, it would make a long, thin, baguette type loaf.

That would be perfect for garlic bread….. and I could make some for part of our New Year’s Eve party.

I had started my dough the night before and when it was ready, I rolled it in flour and let it rest for ten minutes, then cut it in half

I realised that there  was too much for the terrine pot so cutting it in half  would mean it would fit and I could make a small round loaf with the other half of the dough.

One bit was stretched into a baguette shape and lain on a flour dusted tea towel

While the other bit was rolled into a round and sprinkled with cornmeal

And both bits covered with the edges of the tea towel and left to rise for two hours

Half an hour before the bread was ready, I put the oven on to just over 200 degrees C and put in the terrine dish and the small casserole

Once the half hour was up, I carefully lifted them out and dropped in the dough, giving the pots a shake to get the dough to settle before putting the lids on and putting them back in the hot oven.

Half an hour later…..

Take the lid off for the next 15 minutes or so….and turn out a beautifully baked baguette shaped loaf

It was fantastic.

Ever since I started baking the No Knead Loaf, I have become more disillusioned with other bread. This really is a wonderful loaf

Two beautiful loaves…. and so lovely that the bread was just eaten as it was and not, after all that, made into garlic bread

I knew I was right to ask for a terrine.

Just look how useful it is going to be – pates and terrines one day and baguettes baked in it the next day to have with the pate!

Churn baby, churn… Or, how to make butter

This morning I realised, as I struggled to get dressed with only one working arm, I would have to make things easier on myself. If I did do a loaf as normal, even calling in help to get it out of the oven, I probably wouldn’t be able to slice it. I could gnaw at it, I supposed, but descending into savagery was a slippery slope.

I wouldn’t be able to lift the Le Creuset casserole, or any casserole, come to that. I did have a bowl of dough ready to be baked……the answer, my friends, was to cut the dough into little bits and then put the little bits into mini covered pots and make buns! It has to work, right? Reduce the time, I suppose, but it should be plain sailing.

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And what would I want on these delicious morsels of bread? Why, butter! Ages ago (and no, I don’t know when because despite Googling for quite some time for the article, I can’t find it) anyway, ages ago, The Telegraph Magazine had an article about Richard Corrigan, making butter.

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Luckily I do have my tattered bits that I ripped out of the magazine and I promise to copy out exactly the bit about making butter. How easy it would have been to have given you the link but, hey ho, one does what one can.

I first made this when I was wandering through a supermarket and saw a large pot of cream reduced for quick sale as it had to be sold that day. Never being one to miss a bargain, I thought this would be a cheap way to try out what Richard Corrigan assured me, was a quick and easy way to make butter.

How could it not be good for you? All it was was, was cream and a pinch of salt….Lamb Henry, bread and butter 016

Richard explained that one way of doing it was to put the cream into a plastic box with some marbles and shake… or you could go the easy route and whip it. Guess which way I did it? Think of the fun for the family… everyone having a go shaking the box.

First, find some marbles. These are beauties – my sister in law in Australia gave them to me, and she was sent them from her cousin in law in America. How international is that?

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Then put them in a plastic box that seals tight. You really don’t want cream going everywhere, do you?

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The put in your cream and start shaking!

This is what Richard Corrigan says

” To make butter

The simplest way to make butter is in a standing mixer, but it is also possible with any vessel that can be agitated back and forth. A Tupperware box with a couple of glass marbles is a perfect makeshift churn for a child to use.

Pour fresh double cream into a very clean mixing bowl and whisk at medium speed until thick. When it becomes stiff, slow down the mixer. The whipped cream will collapse and form into butterfat globules and the buttermilk will flood out. Strain through a sieve, reserving the buttermilk to make milkshakes or soda bread. Return the  the butter fat to the mixer and mix slowly for another 30 seconds. Fill the bowl with cold water. Wash your hands well and knead the butter, allowing the water around it to wash it. Drain off the water and repeat twice. Weigh the butter, then, if you wish to salt it, add a quarter of a teaspoon to every 115g/4oz. Pat it into a shape with wooden spatulas or butter pats, wrap in greaseproof paper and store in the fridge.”

So, you can do it in a mixer, but I have always done it in a box with the marbles. Cream in, marbles in and shake it up baby…

You can hear the change as it goes from liquid cream to whipped cream and then to a strange thickness, almost as if it is one solid mass slapping against the sides of the box. Take a look at it…

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Keep going and then all of a sudden the colour seems to change and it looks different, almost granular. It becomes a yellowy golden substance, almost cottage cheese like in texture and you can see the buttermilk is separating out and you have almost-butter!

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You need to drain the excess liquid off, so put a sieve over a jug and pour in the almost-butter.

Squish it about with a wooden spoon getting more and more of the buttermilk out of there. Then you need to rinse it with cold water. You need to get the buttermilk out, leaving only the butterfat. If you don’t then it will go off sooner, though I have to say, there’s never been any left lying around to go rancid in this house.

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At this point I add some salt and mix it in, giving it a good slapping. The first few times I just used a wooden spatula and that worked brilliantly but The Bear found some wooden butter pats at an antique place at some ridiculously low price (maybe £3?) and bought them for me. You can slap the butter from both sides then. They aren’t essential at all unless you are looking at it from a style point of view. Just whack it with whatever you have. More of the buttermilk will come out and what is left looks just like…… butter!

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There you go, rough and ready, but that is undeniably butter. I usually make it look a lot better but as I keep telling you, I only have one working arm, so what do you expect? But if I can do that in under half an hour? What could you do?

Think of the fun if you have children to entertain – you can make bread and they can be put to forced labour shaking a plastic box filled with cream and a couple of marbles.

I have chopped herbs into it before and even mixed in truffle oil to make gorgeous flavoured butters….You can freeze it too, all you do is  make sausages of the  butter and wrap it in cling film and then freeze it, ready for when you need it.

So now I have butter, ready for my buns. I told you I  had made the dough as normal and then I put it into heated mini Le Creuset pots….

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Lamb Henry, bread and butter 019The oven was hot and in they went. There they stayed for 30 minutes, with their lids on and then another 15 minutes to brown… what little beauties they are? Don’t they deserve the beautiful butter?

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There you go. Wonderful home made bread and butter.

Easy, isn’t it? I reckon it would be easier still if you did what Richard said and used a food mixer……