January 04, 2011

Game On; or, Manly Cuisine

Men aren’t nearly so afraid of cooking as perhaps they were twenty years ago and more, but there’s an awful lot of knife wielding, fire building and grunting going on. It’s almost as if channelling your inner cave man is a good idea, and I can think of no greater insult to the great achievements of civilisation – of the refinements of skill, thought, and art – than to extol the virtues of the cave. Really, the so-called crisis of masculinity that has abounded, especially in the US, since the early ‘90s, is nothing short of a resignation. The romantic notion of a time when men were real men – an image of loincloth-wearing, spear-carrying, knuckle-dragging hominids – is plainly absurd. From the Greeks on down, refinement in food preparation, eating, drinking, and philosophising about it all, has been the remit of the greatest men and the greatest minds. Lighting a grill just doesn’t cut it. And the gnashing of teeth makes you little better than an ape. It’s time to put the manliness back into food.

Inspired in part by my good friend who likes to eat like an Edwardian, and by thoughts of things honestly raised and honestly killed, I ventured to make this game terrine:

Several things immediately strike me as worthy about this. First, nothing in it came from a supermarket. Second, and relatedly, I was given a reason to visit a number of local butchers and grocers, which are still like little community centres if you can find them. My Hungarian butcher was stunned by a request for streaky bacon, which he had not heard before in fifty years dealing with pigs. I still have a lot to learn about the English language outside of England. While he was giving me a tour of his bacon varieties his colleague was busy trying to give financial advice to an old eccentric who only knew the poles of extravagance and destitution, with nothing in between. The butcher offered to put money aside, for the lean times, but whiskey dreams beat out the benevolent butcher banker. Third, the making of such an intricate dish connects one with a wealth of tradition. Fourth, there was so much of it – four pounds of meat went into it, including venison (fillets and livers), duck, ostrich, sausage, and the aforementioned bacon – that it did the rounds at the holiday parties, and brought friends together. Food is the bedrock of friendship – cum panis, company – so isn’t it all the better if we can supply it?

Most importantly, perhaps, this dish was honest. It is was somewhat labour intensive, but it contained absolutely no processed crap. Somehow it embodied provision, and this, perhaps, is what ought to define the manly cook.


  1. Looks delicious....and I like the line:"honestly killed"...you know I am all about that!
    However, we need more detail on what was in said Terrine and how it was prepared....I would love the recipe...

  2. Mr. Sportsman, I'm glad you asked.

    I have a Le Creuset terrine, which was just the perfect thing. Line it with streaky bacon (you see my problem?) and then add a layer of force meat (ingredients: 1lb sausage meat, two handsful of breadcrumbs, two chopped venison livers, handful of chopped parsley and a smattering of fresh thyme, glug of brandy, glug of port, an egg, salt and pepper).

    Then add the first layer of lean meat, which you will have lightly browned in a pan. You need three such layers, and they can be anything, so long as they're lean cuts. I had venison fillets, ostrich fillets, and some local Quebec duck breast, cut into strips of about 3"x1". You want about 2lbs in all.

    In between each layer, add a layer of the force meat. Top it all off with more forcemeat, and cover the top with bacon.

    Bake in the oven, placing the terrine dish in a large pan of hot water, for about 2 hours (325f). When it's done, find something that fits the shape of the terrine and weigh it down with a brick for a couple of hours. This makes it compact and easy to carve.

    Turn it out and chill for at least six hours. Serve with some fruit jelly.

    That's about it.

  3. My God, that looks spectacular. I am quite excited, as we recently found an honest to God butcher. Difficult here in the suburbs of Southern California. I knew this was my man when the gentleman next to me asked about an upcoming hunting expedition for white tail deer and the butcher said he absolutely would do the final butchering of the kill if he brought it in. He also talked about adding the venison to chicken or pork to make sausages, which never would have occurred to me. Being where we are, they have the most incredible carne asada and it is superb. We are also surrounded by cattle farms. Barbeque season is fantastic here. I have been pondering laying the down the money to purchase an entire side of beef from a local co-op. Storage would be a problem, but as you say, nothing would come from a supermarket.

  4. "Cumberland sauce"..which is currant based...some cornichons...grainy mustard and some toasted slices of French bread...OK...now my mouth is watering..
    Thanks and damn well done.
    I have 4 pieces of Le Creuset...the stuff is simply the best...and nearly indestructible.

  5. Just "found" your blog via a modern traditionalist, was gripped right away.
    A handshake from,

  6. Welcome aboard Ivan. Pleasure to have you here.


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