Introduction: Spring Rabbit Terrine

A typical simple terrine takes two or three days from start to finish to complete. This instructable will show you how to make a spring rabbit terrine from start to finish within the course of a single day- or evening- with the use of vacuum sealing technology, sous vide, and simple easy to obtain ingredients. I am also entering this into the slow cooker challenge. You don't have to use a sous vide for this recipe, and while an immersion circulator is a form of slow cooking, you can absolutely make this with a slow cooker such as a crock pot and nobody would be able to tell the difference! This terrine is a lot less finicky than the traditional method, and is extremely forgiving. Because it doesn't require an exact set temperature, the difference between the two types of cooking devices really only comes down to preference and what you have in your kitchen. The final temperature is all that really matters. I designed this to be a flexible recipe to use up food I had on hand already. Throughout the instructable I will also show you how to make a watercress and pea puree, black garlic mustard, smoked quail eggs, pickled cucumber and shallots, and then how to plate it all together.

Step 1: Fancy Spam Worth Making

Terrine is a classical french dish, traditionally made by mincing, grinding, or pureeing meats with spices, fat, and salt. It is then left to marinate for a day or more in the refrigerator under a weight which pushes the excess water and collagen out of the meat and allows the flavors to infuse into one another. Then it gets cooked in a water bath until the meat is cooked through, and then cooled. Once cooled, the meats and collagen solidify, allowing you to slice the loaf for serving. This terrine is an excellent way to use up leaner cuts of meat and can be made inexpensively. This process- from breaking down a whole rabbit to serving- takes less than a day, versus the multi-day traditional process.


In this instructable I break down and butcher a whole rabbit. Some people may be less than comfortable with this, and thats ok. Any lean, or medium lean cut of pork or poultry can be substituted. If you are unfamiliar with rabbit, I highly recommend it! Rabbit is an excellent source of lean protein and is a very sustainable meat to produce. You can ask your butcher, and if they are extremely nice they may even butcher it for you. Don't worry if you do not have the same equipment you see me using in the photos; in the descriptions I will be giving tips on other options you can try.


I chose to use rabbit for this instructable for a couple reasons. I had a couple rabbit in my freezer already that I wanted to use up, rabbit is perfect for this instructable due to how lean it is, and I really do love rabbit.

To make just the terrine you will need the following:

- About a half pound of 80/20 ground pork

- Around 1/3 to 1/2 pound of fresh chicken livers

- 2 whole rabbits

-Salt and pepper

- a shallot and an onion

- fresh or dried bay leaves, savory leaves, juniper berries, and other savory herbs that you may like

- MooGloo transglutaminase GS or similar transglutaminase product with gelatin. It can easily be found through online retailers such as Amazon, Modernist Pantry, or in many gourmet/specialty cooking stores.

Utensils and implements that I used:

-VERY sharp knives. Do yourself a favor and spend some quality time with your cutlery prior to tackling this project and get your knives honed in as sharp as you can.

- Vacuum sealer and bags. For this instructable any household vacuum sealer will work, however I use a chamber vacuum sealer.

- Sous Vide/thermal circulator. I typically prefer using my Anova, but for this instructable I ended up using my Nomiku because I had it on hand. You can also use a slow cooker without issue too. Keep in mind that the size of the slow cooker dictates what size pan you use and how many you can fit in it at once, but will still cook the terrine just the same as the immersion circulator.


-Blender or Stick mixer.

Step 3: Chicken Liver Pate, Part 1

Although the main meat and flavor of this dish is rabbit, it relies on ground pork for fat and Chicken liver pate as the main binding ingredient. The pate is simple to make and can be either prepared ahead of time, or made while you break down your rabbit in the subsequent steps. The pate is comprised of chicken livers that have been simmered until cooked in water with aromatic herbs and then pureed and whipped to incorporate air into the mixture. It is velvety smooth and doesn't require constant vigilance.

The first step is to dice an onion and a shallot, then sweat them out in the bottom of a pan with butter, bay leaves, juniper berries, cracked pepper, dried savory, and crushed whole garlic cloves. Dice your onions on the smaller side then cut your shallot to match. I use the pommel (base of the handle) or the flat heel of the blade to crush my garlic cloves. Throw these in a pot with your dried herbs, and some butter. Keep them moving with a spoon or spatula over medium heat until the onions are translucent and begin to develop some brown areas. Quickly add a small amount of water to the pot to deglaze the bottom, scraping up any brown bits of flavor. Then add your Chicken livers and enough water to just cover them. Reduce your heat to low and let the livers simmer while you move on to breaking down your rabbit.

Step 4: Breaking Down the Rabbit

Breaking down a rabbit can be tedious work, so allow yourself around 20 or 30 minutes to do so with the two you have. It is best to do this step while the chicken livers are simmering, as it takes about the same time and the meats will all be combined in the following steps.

To break down a rabbit, I first locate the hind leg joints and remove them first. There is a lot of meat that can be stripped off the hind legs and cubed. I then do the same with the front legs; locate the joint, and slice through the weakest part using a larger chefs knife. To strip meat from the bones I use a small paring knife. Toss all your meat into a bowl and the bones in another.

DON"T DISCARD THE BONES! Freeze them- they'll be used for an upcoming instructable I will be publishing soon. I will post it in the notes and in this step when I do.

Once you are left with the torso, slide the chef knife through the base of the ribcage and out through the neck, pushing down and away from you to slice through the sternum and ribcage, splitting it in two. Then slice down either side of the spine, and gently clean the meat from the bones using said pairing knife.

Step 5: Chicken Liver Pate, Part 2

Once your rabbits are broken down and you have a bowl of meat, Your livers should be cooked through. Strain them, then rinse them to gently remove the simmering liquid spices. Add them to a blender with a tablespoon or two of butter and some Transglutaminase. The transglutaminase (TG), or meat glue, will act as the secondary binder for any areas that fat doesn't reach during the cooking process. Mix all of these on medium low in the blender until broken down and combined, then turn the blender to high to whip the contents into an airy, velvety texture.

Step 6: Mixing the Terrine

Empty and scrape the bowl of chicken liver pate into the bowl of diced rabbit. Chop up a cup, or half of the watercress, add about a half of a pound of ground pork (the fattier the better) and the onion/shallot mix that was sautéed on the stove. Throw on a pair of gloves and combine everything. It is messy, but using a spoon to mix it isn't as good. By using your hands, you can quickly turn and combine everything quickly, coating each piece and massaging the pate into the rabbit. This ensures that not only the texture is even throughout the terrine, but that there is also and even coverage of the pate with the TG, so that everything will form together better.

Step 7: Filling the Molds

Traditionally terrine is made in a large loaf style pan with a heavy weight on top to help compress everything together over a period of time. We are going to speed that process along however in this step and the next. The first step in this process is filling the pans- lining them with bacon strips and then filing and folding the bacon over. The strips don't need to completely cover every inch of the bottom of the pan- get them as close together as you can, but the fat will render out of the bacon during cooking, then re-solidify during the cooling and fill in any gaps. Fill the mixture to the top, and fold the bacon over so that everything is level or just barley above the rim of the mold. In this case I used 4 mini loaf pans- I didn't plan on eating an entire terrine and the smaller pans are the perfect size for when guests are over or just for a couple lunches. This helps to reduce waste and prolong the life of the terrine, since the finished product can be frozen just fine.

Step 8: Vacuum Sealing- the Trick to Perfection

This is what makes the terrine different from the traditional method. Instead of combining the ingredients, letting them rest, filling the molds, weighing them down, then cooking in a waterbath in the oven, I used my vacuum sealer to remove the air from the bag, pulling everything together in place. I put a couple bay leaves on top of each terrine prior to sealing, so that the flavor would infuse during cooking and be easy to discard the leaves afterward. I used fresh bay leaves, but dried leaves work just as well if that's what you have on hand. Typically, there is a layer of congealed fats and collagen left on top of the terrine press that is scraped away after cooling. It is these fats that add flavor and the collagen that binds the mixture together. Rabbit is however very lean, and the fats in the pork and bacon add enough for flavor without the need to remove any excess. The TG acts as the binding agent. In the photos you will notice that I use a chamber-style vacuum sealer. If you have one of your own or have access to one, that's excellent. If not, a standard sealer (such as foodsaver brand) is perfectly fine. There isn't any liquid to be drawn out and its the removal of air and the tightening of the pouch that pulls everything in together and into shape.

Step 9: Cooking the Terrine

This step is why I chose to enter this project in the slow cooker challenge. Although it is shown using an immersion circulator (or sous vide) you do not have to have one in order to make this dish. A slow cooker is perfectly fine as long as there is room for the pan(s) that you wish to cook. Either way, both methods will yield the same result and both methods are, technically, "slow cooking". I will give the times of the slow cooker below as well as the temperature and time used for the sous vide.

If using a sous vide, choose and appropriately sized vessel to set your pans in. I used a plastic bus tub but anything heat resistant that the pans fit in will work fine. You do not need to cook them all at once either- they can hang out in the refrigerator, sealed and uncooked for a day or two. place a small rack, (or a couple forks) under the pans to elevate them slightly above the bottom, allowing room on all sides for the heated water to circulate all around. I set my sous vide at 165F and let the terrines go for 3 hours from the time the water was at temperature. If you forget and let them go longer that's alright, it won't hurt the texture much at all. Covering the top of the cooking vessel and starting with hot tap water greatly speeds up the process of the sous vide bringing the water to temperature and keeping it there without fluctuation.

If you are using a slow cooker, like a crock-pot or hamilton beach, there is no need to place anything under the pans. They still need to be submerged in water however. Terrine is very forgiving, so there's no need to worry about exact temperature if you are using a slow cooker. The heat is generated through the bottom of the pot and the heavy ceramic walls act as thermal mass to conduct even heat all around. Set the crockpot to the highest setting and cook the bagged terrines for 2 hours, then reduce to medium and cook another 2.5 hours. If you only have high and low on your slow cooker, let them go for 4.5 hours at high.

Using either method- slow cooker or sous vide, will speed the entire process of making a terrine along greatly. I love that; using a slower cooking process but a smarter packing method to yield a dish in less than half the time. If you are really concerned about undercooked food, keep in mind that the ingredient that needs to be cooked to the highest temperature (the chicken liver) was already fully cooked in boiling water. Ground pork is listed as safe to eat at 160 degrees F, as is rabbit. Setting the temperature to 5F above the target temperature is necessary here because it will not continue to cook after being removed from the water bath using either method. It will be immediately cooled in an ice bath and refrigerated. In smaller loaf pans like used in this instructable, the meat would probably be cooked in the center in about 2 hours, but letting it go longer helps to soften it up and break it down a little bit, too. This contributes to the overall texture of the final product. Letting it go a little longer won't hurt, especially if you have the time.

Step 10: While the Terrine Is Cooking...

Once you have the terrines in the water, there are a few hours before they will need to be removed and chilled. This gives you time for the most important step in any recipe- cleaning up. Knock out the dishes, scrub down the cutting boards, sanitize work surfaces, clean AND DRY your cutlery. If you only want to make a batch of terrines, or a large one to have on hand, feel free to skip ahead to the cooling off step. If you are interested in making the entire dish like I have pictured, read on.

I had a lot of ingredients around that I wanted to use up, so I came up with a dish that would make the most of them to use them up. My wife and I ferment the excess garlic that we grow and harvest (that hasn't been used fresh or used for seed for the following growing season) into black garlic. Black garlic can be found at most fine grocers nowadays- Whole foods, Publix, Giant eagle, and sometimes trader joes. There was also half the watercress left and some frozen peas I wanted to get through, along with arugula, and a cucumber. We also raise quails and have a steady supply of eggs on hand throughout the year. I wanted to make a very spring-oriented dish and use mostly produce and ingredients that would be on hand and fresh during the spring season- rabbit, arugula, peas, preserved garlic, quail eggs, etc. You don't have to follow the next few steps verbatim- feel free to experiment and share what you came up with!

Step 11: Watercress and Pea Puree

When making a dish, love to think about plating and the final overall product. Pops of vibrant color and contrast help out a main component like this terrine which looks, well, not beautiful on its own. Fancy Spam, ammiright?

Anyway, the puree is really straightforward; frozen (or fresh blanched) english peas, olive oil, garlic, watercress, and miso. The end result is velvety, a little spicy/sharp, and thanks to the miso, surprisingly savory.

Add the peas, spring onions, 3 garlic cloves, a tablespoon of olive oil, a couple tablespoons of white miso, and watercress to a blender or food processor and puree on high until smooth. give it a taste and adjust to your liking- a little more miso, maybe a couple extra cloves of garlic.

for plating, texture can be tricky to get just right, so I hold off on adding water to the puree until I have tested the initial result. using a heavy spoon, scoop up a dollop and drop it onto a plate, spread it with the underside of the spoon and see how it drags. I added about a quarter cup of water to get it to the consistency of thin pancake batter, but you may need more or less depending on the water content of the peas and cress. If you have a squueze bottle, transfer it now and refrigerate. If not, scrape it into a plastic zipper bag- you can snip a corner off when ready to plate and use it like a piping bag.

Step 12: Black Garlic Mustard

Black garlic mustard is just as easy as making the pea puree. Just toss everything into a blender on high, then scrape it out and chill. I used plain yellow mustard powder, beer, sherry vinegar, salt, pepper, black garlic and a splash of water. You can omit the beer if you want, and substitute other vinegars as well. alternatively, you could honestly puree black garlic with prepared dijon and/or whole grain. If i had it on hand I would have loved to add whole grain mustard to this. I vac sealed the mustard afterward in a pint crabo to speed up the melding of flavors. Anyway, I used (roughly):

2 heads of black garlic cloves, peeled

7oz beer- stout would have been ideal but we had New Belgium Fat Tire ale on tap so thats what I used

3oz sherry vinegar

1/4 cup mustard powder. This ended up being... a lot. If you are having sinus issues this is a good amount. If you want to taste the mustard more than you want to feel it, use less.

salt and pepper to taste

water to bring to consistency. I only needed about a teaspoon.

Step 13: Pickle Time!

I like making pickles. I like eating pickles. really, I just like pickles. If you own or have access to a chamber style vacuum sealer, using it to make refrigerator pickles is one of the best uses for it. Chamber style sealers have a strong pump that removes air not just from the bag but also from the entire chamber and its contents. It removes air from the cell walls of the items being pickled, in turn forcing the brine into them. It's extremely efficient.

You don't need one to make great pickles though- people have been making pickled vegetables forever without the use of one. You can also buy yourself some pickles- cornichons are the flavor i was trying to replicate here. This is where a very sharp knife is necessary. If you are more comfortable using a mandoline, by all means use it. A lot of home kitchens don't have one, but most home kitchens have decent knives.

In a sauce pan combine:

1/4c sugar

2 Tbs salt

1 Tbs whole peppercorns

1 Tsp whole clove

a couple bay leaves

4 or so garlic cloves, smashed/crushed with the flat of a knife blade.

3 cups of water.

2/3 cup white or cider vinegar

Bring all of this to a boil, and zest a lemon peel into the liquid, and about an inch of turmeric, grated. reduce to a simmer for 10minutes. While the liquid is simmering, slice a couple cucumbers and a shallot as thinly as you can. If you are vac sealing them, add them to a crabo or container that fits in the bag/chamber of the machine. If not, place them in a mason jar.

Strain the liquid through a strainer, sieve, or even a coffee filter to remove the solids and pour it, still hot, over the sliced cucumbers and shallots. Vacuum seal (for liquids I generally set the chamber time to 45 seconds and seal time to 2.5 seconds) or cap the mason jar.

And that's it. Pickles, quickly.

Step 14: Smoked Quail Eggs

I used a small portable smoker I borrowed for this. You absolutely do not have to smoke your eggs. The smoker i am using sells on for around $25 (just search "gourmia smoker") and is really nice to have for a lot of dishes- smoking roasted meats, tomato sauces, and even eggs. Quail eggs have a high yolk-to-white ratio, and they're very rich. They are a little tedious to peel due to their having a thicker shell, but I think the extra bit of effort is worth it. They boil very quickly- bring a pot of water to a boil, and lower a dozen into the water on a mesh strainer or spider. Set a timer and boil them for 4.5 minutes, and then lift them out on the strainer, dump the water, and pour cold water over them and into the saucepan. They cook quickly and cool down just as fast.

If you choose to use a small smoker like I did, just put them in a large mason jar, peeled, and continue to smoke them with a portable smoker for about 20 seconds. Cap the jar and let them hang out for 5 or 6 minutes. I extended the output tube with a straw, but I really don't think this actually helped with anything.

Step 15: Cooling Down the Terrine

By now, the time for the terrine to cook has elapsed. If you made the accoutrements, cool! If you decided to kick a can around the alley and watch TV, that's equally cool. I am also assuming you cleaned up the blender and counters and kitchen again, right? Thought so. Regardless, it's time to chill the terrine. Once cooled, the fat, TG, and collagen will have all congealed and the loose mess that went into the pans is now a delicious meat-brick. The traditional way to cool them is to let them rest in a cool area and refrigerate. But I told you this dish would be done in less than a day, so who has time for that? The fastest way to cool them is in an ice bath. Because these are completely sealed (unlike a traditional terrine), you can do that- and if you've got an immersion circulator you can do so rapidly. Drain the hot water out of the cooking vessel, refill it with cold water and copius ammounts of ice, then the circulator to 35F. The interior of the terrine will be chilled in about 15-20minutes. If you used a crock pot, drop your pan(s) into a mixing bowl, cover them with ice to the top of the bowl, and add water just until the terrine is covered. Give it a stir every couple minutes. That's it, your terrine is done and ready. You can eat it right away, or leave it sealed and refrigerated for up to a week, or frozen up to a couple months!

Step 16: Plating and Playing With Your Food.

You don't have to plate things nicely. All of this could just be piled on bread and it would make a great sandwich. However, if you want to plate it, follow the diagram above:

Starting with the puree, squeeze out about 1/8cup and give it a nice spread across the plate. I followed the curvature of the dish to leave an area of negative space on the side, but a nice straight stripe would also look really nifty. Then drop your saladette; I just tossed some arugula with olive oil, sherry vinegar, salt and pepper. Cup one of your hands slightly above the puree, and drop the salad while simultaneously uncupping your hand and it will make a nicely fluffed, pillowed heap. Next, slice your terrine (I went with slices about 1/3" thick) and fan the slices out, leaning slightly up against the saladette. Cut a couple quail eggs in half and tuck them around the arugula, then add a healthy pinch of the pickles in the crook of the dish- just inside the "curve". Using a squeeze bottle or zipper-bag-turned-piping bag, squeeze out a few clusters of mustard dots, about 2 tablespoons in total around the plate. I like to layer dots on top of contrasting colors or textures- in this case I squeezed out the shinier dots onto the pea puree and the matte finish of the plate. Lastly, I had some Maldon salt from a previous dish, and rimmed the blank edge of the plate with it.

I hope you enjoyed this instructable, and I hope you and the people you feed love the dish should you choose to make it!

Step 17: Notes/tips on This Recipe

As a general rule when I create an instructable, I like to write up a one or two page shot list and steps with basic ingredients so that as I move throughout the project I can keep track of what I am doing and What I wanted to shoot. I usually shoot more photos than I have listed (around 160-200shots for a food related instructable) and cherry pick from them in the editing stage. I have learned its better to have more shots to choose from than only one, only to find later that it was out of focus or motion blurred. I tape this list to the back of my main lighting panel so that it doesn't end up in the shoot at any point unless I intend for it to be there. In terms of lighting, I like to shoot with a variable color temperature LED panel instead of with strobes, and 2 small catch lights. I use a whi-bal white balance card to match the ambient light in each shot. Our kitchen receives a lot of natural light during the day and a lot of incandescent light during the evening. The area above our beer tap is light with a recessed LED light, and the hood above the range is lit with LED halogen replacement bulbs. The two sources are close to each other but produce a slightly different temperature. This is where the variable color temperature panel comes in handy. I can better match the ambient temperature with the use of white balance functions in the camera and save myself a lot of time editing later on. I shoot with a Fujifilm XT-2, and the majority of the shots are through a Fujinon 35mm f/1.4 XF R prime lens or their 56mm f/1.2 XF R lens. Editing is done mostly in whole using Adobe Lightroom. Since this dish was going to be plated for presentation and photographing, a sketched a quick labeled diagram of the final plate at the end of the shot list taped to my panel for reference. When photographing food, I try to use as may matte surfaces as possible, from walls to the dishes the food is on. This cuts back on glare but also makes the food "pop" a little better. The same can be said for laying ingredients on rolled out parchment or butcher paper. It doesn't reflect any light, adds a little texture and visual interest, and keeps my surfaces clean in between shots. Keeping my work area clean as I go is also imperative to shooting, so that I don't take shots with a mess in the background that could distract from the subject being photographed. I hope some of these tips and the tips throughout help with creating your own instructables!

Slow Cooker Challenge

Grand Prize in the
Slow Cooker Challenge