I resist. Each year, I try. but I fail. I tell myself to avoid the trap of making Thanksgiving a challenge, but I cannot help but dig deep and try to make Thanksgiving exciting and start cool projects. This year, I tried something new. I had made salmon mousseline not long ago and rolled them into dogs, but this time I wanted to make a terrine of smoothly textured turkey and I wanted create a mosaic view of colorful fall vegetables inlaid in the terrine.
Now, I had made mousseline before, but I have to confess that I had no idea how much I would need for my little terrine. I took a wild stab and boned out two thighs and drumstick yielding 720 grams of dark meaty goodness. Using a basic ratio of 8 parts meat to 4 parts cream to 1 part egg, I put together the mousseline seasoning it with nutmeg, sage, salt and pepper.
Given the delicate nature of meat whipped with eggs and cream, I wanted some level of insurance on the binding of the terrine. With that in mind, after lining the terrine with cling wrap, I added deli turkey to the lining. Next, I added a large dollop of whipped turkey and smoothed out the top. Without pressing too hard, I added what I thought of as traditional fall produce – blanched green beans, steamed butternut squash, and a row of dried cranberries, then layered more turkey on top. I repeated this process two more times finally folding the layer of deli turkey over the top.
As I covered the terrine with clingwrap and foil, placed it in a water bath and finally into the oven, I looked down to see that I used about half of the mousseline that I had made. The remainder would become turkey dumplings eaten with some fantastic Oaxacan mole from Jon Zaragoza at Masa Azul. Once the internal temperature of the terrine hit 160 degrees, I placed the terrine under about weight in the fridge overnight.
Having just had my knives sharpened, I was confident that the knife would make it through the terrine cleanly, but I was not sure what to expect with the in-laid garnishes. I had never made an attempt of formally arranged garnishes. Besides the squash spears rotating and the varied circumference of the dried cranberries, the cross-section was just as I had hoped, but something that I was not expecting, but should have been was the intense turkey flavor of the terrine.
For some reason, I had expected the addition of cream and egg to dilute the turkey flavor, but it did no such thing. Despite the delicate texture of the terrine, the flavor was certainly not in question. There was big turkey flavor, but like a great Thanksgiving meal, the tart cranberry burst into the picture and the sweet, smooth squash breezed through with each bite. Finally the green, fresh taste of the blanched green beans cut through the rich flavor of the turkey. The modest deli turkey fulfilled its responsibility of holding the whole thing together.
Upon tasting the first slice, I put the remainder in the fridge knowing that Thanksgiving day lunch was still up in the air and that this would be a good dish to bring to pass. Dinner is still the main show and I plan on bringing vegetables to our party of 60 (yes there are 60 people on my maternal side of the family), but a slice of terrine provides a taste of what is to come without needing a full plate of it.
Terrine of Turkey Mousseline
- 6 slices of deli turkey
- 720 grams turkey (I used dark meat)
- 360 grams heavy cream
- 90 grams eggs
- salt, pepper, sage and nutmeg to taste
- 60 grams butternut squash, cut into spears, and steamed
- 6 green beans, blanched and shocked in ice water
- 50 dried cranberries
Step one: In food processor, combine turkey and egg. Puree until smooth, then stream in whipping cream and continue to process until smooth. If you are hard core, feel free to pass through a tamis. I didn’t. I still love my family.
Step two: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a terrine with plastic wrap, then deli turkey.
Step three: Take a large spatula full of whipped turkey and smooth it across the bottom of the terrine. Then lay in garnishes.
Step four: Repeat twice more, then cover with deli turkey, then clingwrap. Cover terrine with foil and place in a water bath in oven.
Step five: When internal temp hits 160 remove from waterbath and weigh down in fridge overnight. Once set, remove from terrine.