Ok so maybe I’m no good with names – compost terrine doesn’t sound particularly appetizing, I realize. But I’m finally getting this thing going either way. Sorry about the shitty image quality but the iPhone was all I had around. Maybe I’ll take some better ones tomorrow to replace them with.
I decided I had to post tonight because I did something that to me was exceptionally cool and resourceful and something that honestly I’m surprised I’ve never thought of before. In recent years I’ve become mildly obsessed with head cheese. I’m talking copa di testa, homemade, good stuff – not the jello mold you can buy in bulk at the grocery store. I’m talking melt-on-your tongue, fatty, delicious, gelatinous, gooey, meat-tastic head cheese. And this week we were making stock for The Pie Truck’s rapidly becoming famous meat pies and it cooked for a little longer than usual… the bones that we get from Marin Sun Farms come with a decent amount of meat on them and that is damn good meat that I hate to see wasted. All that meaty stuff had completely cooked clean off the bones and the mirepoix was good and mucked into it all and the stock had cooked down to a consistency that provided a solid amount of gelatin. So I thought “shit, let’s pull the bones out of this muck and make a loaf!” And so, that’s what I did. And it turned into some mighty fine loaf that we will be enjoying for dinner in the coming few days. It ended up like a sort-of head cheese terrine made up of chunks of great meat and all the bits around the bone that you normally just toss in the trash along with a bunch of mirepoix and spices.
What you’ll need to do if you decide you want to make some meaty bone cheese:
Start by making a good batch of beef stock. I’m not going to go into the process of making stock now but you can research it, or maybe I’ll talk about it later at some point, because it’s actually a really useful and awesome thing to learn how to do properly. So when you go to make your stock, take the Thomas Keller madman for details approach and actually dice your veggies to a nice size. You’ll pull more flavor for your stock, for starters, your stock will be clean and you’ll end up with some nice veg to use in this terrine.
One thing that’s key about your stock is that the bones have some meat on them so if your bones are pretty clean, toss a couple chunks of a cheap cut of beef or another bone with some meat – just something for some substance. Second, make sure you have joints and bone segments. This should always be the case when you make stock but especially here. You want that deep marrowy flavor from the cut leg segments and you want that collagen from the joints to solidify this terrine and also to give your stock some nice body. Ok so I said I wasn’t going to go into stock specifics but I’m realizing that I can’t resist. It’s important stuff, and I love making stock.
The essential point of this whole thing is that when you make a good stock and take the time to cut up the veggies like this, it allows you to use the whole lot of mess you’d normally toss after you’ve strained your stock. So when it’s finished and your bones are coming out squeaky clean, strain the whole thing and pull out the bones and any other chunks of tough stuff or bunches of parsley that you don’t want to be eating whole. While you’re doing all of this, take a couple cups of your new stock and reduce it down to about half of what it is so that it’s got some good body and is going to hold up nicely when it chills.
Back to that pile of crud that you’d normally toss in your compost heap… When you’ve finished sorting through it (don’t be picky about cartilage and that – the whole point of this is that you’re not wasting anything) and add a little bit of seasoning to it. Salt and pepper will do fine but you can also toss some freshly chopped thyme in there, some crushed red pepper, cumin, however you want to spice it – this is where you can get creative with the flavors.
Now line a loaf pan with plastic wrap with some excess hanging over the sides. Fill it 3/4 of the way or so with your filling, and then pour that reduced down cup or so of stock over it. Use your fingers and squish it through a little bit so you don’t have a complete pool on top and none of that good meat jello throughout the rest. Now wrap pull that plastic wrap together on top, seal it, toss it in the fridge and go to sleep dreaming about chunky meaty jello. Mmmmm.