I love a good chunk of charcuterie, and this year’s wealth of venison has been crying out to be made into a sliceable terrine en gelee./aspic.
The venison trotters I mention in this post are chock-ful of collagen, making them the perfect thing to help bind a chilled headcheese-style terrine. You could definitely make a similar sliceable something out of all venison trotter meat, but it could be small depending on how many trotters you use. To make up for the lack of mass in the trotters, I add a venison shank (you could probably get away with using 2 which would fill up a loaf pan better, for what it’s worth). To give you another option, just because, you could also use one of my pre-smoked venison shanks for this, using the cured version that includes pink salt / sodium nitrate.
Terrines en Gelee / Aspic are as easy as they come
The beautiful part of a terrine in aspic is that there’s no watching a thermometer, or worrying about over-cooking. Everything is simmered until it’s basically falling apart, then all you have to do is strain the braising liquid, reduce it to a syrup, mix it with the meat, pack into your choice of terrine mold (I used a mason jar for a round form, but a loaf pan works just as good) chill until it’s solid as a rock, then slice and eat like any other cold cut. For reference, too, the method is identical to classic pork headcheese.
Oh, and if that wasn’t easy enough, if your terrine en aspic / gelee doesn’t set, you can just toss it back in a pan and reduce the liquid a bit, and re-pack. Like I said, this kind of charcuterie is really fool-proof, and easy. Think of the meat proportions here as a suggestion: you can put just about anything in the brine and cook it, reduce the liquid and make it into a terrine, just make sure you have something that’s rich in collagen. Do it a couple times and you’ll see a recipe is hardly necessary.
For a really decadent sandwich, try putting a slice in a grilled cheese sandwich, heating the terrine makes the juices relax, giving you a goey, sticky sandwich like something out of a butchers fantasy. I used to deep fry headcheese too, but for that I use a fraction of the binding liquid since it can migrate out of the breading while frying and pop in the oil.
Smoked Venison Trotter-Shank Terrine en Aspic
- Large crock pot
- 1 gallon water
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 oz 5 tsp pink salt optional, but recommended if you want, you can probably cut the proportion in half here, but know that most of the pink salt and nitrites stay in the brine that's discarded.
- Legs of 1 whitetail deer cut off at the “knee” joint, and meticulously cleaned and cut into 1/3rds per my instructions here
- 1 large venison shank roughly 20 oz
- 1 cup each chopped carrots onion and celery
- 1 garlic bulb halved
- 1 gallon water
- 1.5 cups dry white wine
- 5 sprigs of thyme
- 1/2 bunch of parsley
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 10 black peppercorns
- 5 cloves
- 1/2 whole nutmeg
- 5 whole allspice
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
Serving (Pick a few or use what you like)
- Grilled bread
- Pickled mushrooms
- Grated Horseradish
Brine + Prep
- Combine the brine ingredients and whisk until dissolved, then add the trotters, bones, and venison shank and leave for 48 hours. Tie the bouquet mixture in cheesecloth for easy removal and reserve.
- Remove the bones, trotter and shank from the brine and rinse lightly, then smoke for 2 hours at 250F. After smoking, transfer the bones and shank to a large crock pot with the water, vegetables, and bouquet garni.
- Cook the mixture on high heat for 5 hours, or until the shank is falling off the bone, then remove the shank, wrap in clingfilm while still warm to prevent it from drying out, refrigerate and reserve.
- Continue cooking the hooves and bones for roughly 20 hours.
- Remove the trotters and bones, meticulously pick out all bones and separate out the tendons and connective tissue. While still warm, mince the connective tissue and tendons as fine as possible with a heavy chef knife. Cut the chilled shank into ½ inch dice and add to the minced trotter mix.
Reduce the aspic
- Meanwhile, strain the cooking liquid, then transfer to a wide-ish pan, about 8-10 inches is ok, and reduce slowly until a thick syrup is formed, you should have about 3/4 cup of liquid (you may not need it all).
Pack the terrine
- Line a lightly oiled loaf pan with clingfilm. Mix the chopped meat mixture with the reduced aspic/liquid (how much liquid you add can be a matter of personal taste—see note*) pack into the mold, and chill for a few hours or overnight until very firm.
- Cut the terrine into slices and serve with garnishes like grilled bread, mustard, pickles, grated horseradish, pickled mushrooms, etc. The terrine will keep for a week in the fridge, and can easily be frozen.