I recently purchased another of Keith Floyd’s top ranked works, ‘Floyd on France’. This edition, much like ‘Floyd on Italy’ cost more to post it to me than I paid to purchase. I was a little surprised when it landed on the doormat to discover that i’d ordered a paperback edition without pictures. This didn’t detract from what is a fantastic book on classic French cuisine with many dishes from the series of the same name that can be found on YouTube for your viewing pleasure. This also makes up for the lack of pictures.
I must confess that I have already made a couple of things from this book but sadly didn’t photograph them. Needless to say I will be making them again and photo’s will follow. The two dishes were the Piperade, during the making of which famously Keith gets schooled by an elderly Basque native who slates his attempt before she produces a flawless one, having re-created it I can honestly say it was delicious. Chicken with apples was the other dish and definitely ranks as more of a West Country style dish but apparently its native of Normandy. Either way it’s tasty.
So today’s attempt is no mean feat. A whole duck terrine which is encased in the duck’s actual skin, crikey! Michel Roux Jr can take a whole duck off it’s bones making the process look relatively straightforward, I guess that’s what 40 odd years in top level catering will do for you. Me on the other hand, I’ve butchered duck before but never in this way. Gradually teasing the skin away from the flesh being careful not to pierce it was a mission, the legs and wings are a nightmare. 30 minutes and one cut finger later though I had the skin off in one piece (kind of) and the meat removed.
The breast meat then gets sliced into strips and placed into a bowl with a glass of brandy. As I had Calvedos knocking around I used that. I also placed the skin in with the fillets to take on the flavour of the brandy.
The next job is to make a duck stock from the bones and a few herbs and vegetables. I added a touch of olive oil to a large stockpot and then roasted the duck bones before adding diced carrot, onion and a homemade bouquet garni consisting of thyme, parsley and bay leaf wrapped in a sheet of leek and tied with string. Much better than the ones you find dried in packets. The smell at this point was amazing. I left the stock to simmer for an hour.
While the stock was bubbling away I made a start on prepping the meat. 600g of mixed smoked bacon and pork belly had to be chopped into fine cubes but fortunately I had got smoked bacon lardons so half the work was done. I’d definitely recommend a sharp knife and a lot of patience for this task.
I reduced the stock to 150ml as instructed and it tasted delicious, seriously they should start selling this in my local supermarket, they’d make a killing. I then drained the brandy marinade into the stock and added a little salt and pepper before leaving to cool. We’re almost there people!
After shelling some pistachios I finely diced the marinated fillet meat and added it all to the pork and bacon mix. Adding in an egg, reduction, pistachios and good helping of extra seasoning the stuffing was ready to go.
The next part amazed me. I never thought by looking at the duck skin that I would ever have enough to line the terrine. I bashed out the skin, which was thick in parts, to give me more surface area.I draped the skin in long pieces into the terrine and things were looking good. Adding the duck mix and then draping the skin over I was stunned, this actually looks like it’s going to work….
Floyd doesn’t instruct the bain-marie method but whenever i’ve used it it’s given me an even cook so I placed the terrine into the water-filled roasting tray to bake for 2 hours. One problem during the cooking time was that the skin at the top parted and exposed the filling, nevertheless I carried on until the terrine was cooked.
The only remaining process is to let the terrine cool and weigh the top down with the heaviest rectangular object that you can lay your hands on. In my case, this was a house brick wrapped in foil. Very effective!
After leaving the terrine in the fridge overnight the time came to unmold the terrine and slice ready to serve. The terrine gave some resistance before running a knife around and gradually easing it from the base of the dish. I was quite impressed with the shape particularly once the uneven edges were trimmed, the duck skin had rendered to become tight to the filling and a layer of meat jelly had formed on the top.
Slicing into the terrine revealed a decent mosaic two-thirds of the way down but where the skin had parted the meat was slightly loose, again though, this could be trimmed. I finished the terrine by brushing with a little olive and truffle oil and garnished the plate with dressed salad leaves
The seasoning for the dish is critical and in hindsight I would have added more. Flavour-wise the terrine was decent but the texture was a little dry. Making it though was a real experience and a rewarding moment when you slice into the terrine and your hard work is revealed. It’s an involved dish but a good one if you’re cooking for a large group.
Floyd on France is available to purchase from Amazon