Terrines and pâtés are both made of something called "forcemeat." This is a finely-chopped or ground mixture of meat, fat, and spices. Nuts, organ meats, and other ingredients are sometimes added for flavor, texture, and visual variety.
The meat is packed into a terrine mold and gently cooked for several hours. The dish is then refrigerated overnight before being unmolded. It's usually cut into thin slices and served cold or room temperature with baguette. Traditionally, terrines were cooked in molds (as described above) while pâtés were cooked inside a pastry crust, though the terms are often used interchangeably now.
Terrines are a great way to prepare cheaper and lesser-known cuts of meat, which is perhaps why they've been making a reappearance lately. They also pack a lot of caloric punch, meaning you definitely don't need to eat a lot to feel satisfied.
For many of us, especially here in the US where pâtés have been a lot less common, the idea of eating cold meat that has the consistency of baby food might not hold a lot of appeal. But when done right, a good forcemeat can be a fabulous thing!
In a good one, the spices and savory meat flavors compliment each other perfectly, and the texture is more like foie gras than anything else. It literally melts on your tongue. We've only had this kind of experience eating terrines a few times - though if this trend continues, hopefully we'll get to experience it more often.
How do you feel about terrines and pâtés? Do you think this trend might grow on you?
• Winter Treasure: Homemade Pâtés Offer an Elegant Way to Start a Holiday Feast by Hunter Lewis, published in the December 2008 issue of Saveur Magazine.
• A Taste of Pâté Past by Molly Wizenberg, published in the January 2009 issue of Bon Appétit
Related: Sausages! Make Sausages at Home