Sunday was the Fremantle Family Food Fiesta and Jeff the photographer and me decided to make an appearance with our loved ones on behalf of the mag. For those that like their fun highly organised, this was a treat with rules stretching to over two pages. The theme was the family’s favourite dish and this, with both of us having fairly bog standard Australian food childhoods, left us non-plussed. Unlike other foodies who could successfully write an essay within the given 50 minute period “Becoming a foodie was inevitable, discuss, giving examples with special emphasis on the period leading up to the event”. Pens down. My home food was neither especially bad or especially extraordinary, just food to feed a family with some variety with a supermarket 30 miles away. My mum though would always make a platter, or “plate”, for local dances and as these became kind of signature dishes for each family, I thought I’d recreate it, but in aspic. Not that it ever was in aspic but it’s a tasty enough allusion to the way we suspend and organise our memory.
It’s not an overly intimidating thing to make. All the work is creating the aspic. Unless you’re happy with commercial stocks, you’ll be making your own chicken stock. I ended up making a consomme and a good explanation of the hows and whys is here. A few things to think about. I used three teaspoons ofgelatine for 500ml of stock and added an extra teaspoon for hot weather. This balanced well – you don’t want it turning into chum but then again you don’t want something with the consistency of silastic. The stock should have its own gelatine from the bones and a good one gels in the fridge. If I’d done the chicken stock again, I would have a added a veal bone or tried to track down a calves foot. Failing this, maybe given a pig’s trotter a bit of a look.
As for the interior bits, I roasted a whole free-range chicken with sage, lemon, and butter. Butter and sage under the breast skin, lemon up the jacksie, and a good butter and seasoning all over. Shred.
Boiled four free-range eggs for 9 minutes and then refreshed in cold water to stop the cooking process. Working from memory, the fresher the eggs, the more likely you’re going to have a nice sharp junction between the yolk and the white.
Chopped up a small jar of gherkins and a small jar of small red cocktail onions.
I use a sharp rectangular bread tin-no need to oil or line with wrap. Pour a thin layer of aspic on the bottom and allow it to set (in the freezer if you keep a sharp eye on it) and then decorate with three egg halves and assorted shapes of gherkin and onion. Top with more chicken and chopped egg gherkin, chicken, and onion mix. I let it set again at the half way point to keep it all a bit loose and have a greater proportion of jelly. Fill again to a smidgen below the top and cover with aspic.
Get a piece of box the size of the tin, wrap it in foil, and place on top with a weight (eg bottle of beer) leave for 12 hours. Wipe fridge clean if you didn’t leave a smidgen of space on the top.
Cut around the sides with a sharp paring knife and if it doesn’t come out, just heat the top a little with some warm water.
Served with a surrounding salad of lettuce, carrot, gherkin, cheese cubes, cocktail onions, and flicks of pate. The best thing for cutting is a serrated cheese knife and if you make slow careful stroke, you should get a nice neat slice. Good stuff. The terrine is now my new official vehicle of food innovation.
250 people showed up for the lunch and there were some pretty speccy efforts with people bringing their finest for dining. I went along just to have fun and be there and then vowed revenge for next year – I’m thinking pig . Kudos to Jeff’s sausage rolls and chutney . Charmaine Solomon was there!