Life has been busier than normal and the time I spend in the kitchen, one of my favorite ways to unwind, has been inconsistent. In an effort to simplify and refocus my kitchen hobby, I went back to an ingredient, ham, and a preparation, terrine, I feel both comfortable with and inspired by.
I found ham shanks at an old German butcher shop near my parents home in Wisconsin. While not quite an off-cut, it is not prime real estate in a butcher case with smoked sausages and thick steaks and chops. I asked for whatever they had left and received 3 smoky and richly colored shanks wrapped in paper. When I picked them up, I didn’t have a good use for them, but we prepared for a party, I found a large collagen casing. I had never used a casing to stuff a terrine, but I thought, if I could make it work, a terrine encased in smooth casing would make a clean presentation.
Figuring that keeping things as simple as possible would make up for my relative absence from the kitchen, I kept the ingredients to a minimum and made sure to supplement the shanks with terrine insurance, pork trotters. After boiling the shanks for around three hours. I pulled the pink meat from the shank bones and as much of the trotter goo from the hooves. Once the meat was pulled, the gelatinous stock from boiling the shanks and trotters reduced and was added with a few heaping scoops of dijon to the still steaming pork. I whipped the pork until it was shredded and sticky with stock.
Then by hand, I stuffed the ham into the casing, tied it off and chilled it between sheet pans overnight. The next day, the terrine had clearly set. Later in the day, I removed the casing and sliced a bunch to serve. It had set very well without being overly gelatinous. The terrine had a beautiful cross section with the deep red of the outer most smoked shank, the pink of the remaining shank and the milky white trotters. Visusally, it was where I wanted it to be. The flavors were straight smoked ham. Simple and smokey with just a touch of sweetness.
Sometimes “straight forward” is not a desired outcome. This time, it was just what I needed. This ham shank terrine had just enough adventure to be exciting. Projects like this pull me back into the kitchen and hopefully gets me back into the habit.
Ham Shank Terrine
2 ham shanks (about 3-4 lbs. in total)
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 pork trotters, split
375 mL white wine
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
Step one: Add shanks, onion, carrots, bay leaves, peppercorns, trotters, and wine, then add water to reach the top of the shanks. Add two large pinches of salt.
Step two: Boil for 3 hours. Remove shanks and trotters. Strain liquid and begin reducing it. Soak collagen casing in warm water.
Step three: Pick meat from trotters and shanks and add it to a mixing bowl with dijon mustard. Whip with a paddle attachment and begin to add reduced stock until it will take no more. Taste and reseason, if needed. Keep in mind, ham is salty.
Step four: Begin stuffing, by hand, the ham into the casing. Keep tamping down the ham and squeezing out air bubbles. Once you have added all of the ham (should be about 2′ of tube meat in a large summer sausage casing), tie off the tube and then tie it off again.
Step five: Press terrine between two sheet pans with a little weigh on top in your fridge overnight.
Step six: Remove casing and slice about a centimeter thin.
Note, you can easily do this in a loaf pan or with plastic wrap in a torchon shape.