This is a very special dish. Imagine a square of potato, segmented into dozens of tiny, wafer thin slices, all held together with dill-scented cream. Visually it is stunning, but luckily, it also tastes fabulous.
This terrine is perfectly suited to smoked salmon and variants such as gravlax and gin cured salmon. However, it is versatile enough to partner other dishes as well. If you were to substitute tarragon for the dill, it would be perfect alongside a grilled steak or veal rib chop. An elegant vegetarian starter can be made if you top the terrine with a little warm eggplant salad.
A word of warning though; this dish takes time and a fair bit of patience. If you are short of time, or a beginner in the kitchen, try another dish. It requires a 40 cm x 8 cm terrine mold, but a regular bread loaf tin can be used instead. You will also need little kitchen gadget called a mandolin. It is the only way to achieve the super thin slices of potato required. I would not even dream of trying to cut them by hand, and I wield knives for a living.
That aside, if you have the equipment and feel confident enough, it is an extremely satisfying dish to make. It will definitely have you're guests wondering in amazement how on earth you made it.
Let do it.
4 large waxy potatoes (desiree potatoes are perfect)
1/2 bunch fresh dill
1 cup pouring cream (35% butterfat)
2 free range eggs
Garlic oil (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
Peel the potatoes and submerge them in cold water. This will prevent them from turning brown. Pre heat your oven to 180° C (360° F) - (Gas mark 4). Set your mandolin blade to very thin slices, around 1 mm. Slice all the potatoes on the mandolin, returning the slices to the cold water as they are done. Remember, the thinner the potato slices, the better the terrine holds together.
Place the eggs and cream in a mixing bowl, along with plenty of salt and pepper. The cream needs to be seasoned well, as it will be the only salt added to the dish. Whisk together the eggs and cream until well combined. Pick the leaves from the dill and chop roughly.
Grease your terrine mould or loaf tin well with non-stick spray or olive oil. Cut a sheet of non-stick cooking paper to fit the base of the terrine and lay it inside. Place a large tea towel on a workbench and remove a handful of potato slices from the water. Lay them on the towel in a single layer to remove any excess moisture. Place a layer of potato slices in bottom of the terrine mould, overlapping slightly. Once the base of the terrine has been fully covered, using a pastry brush, paint the top of the potatoes generously with the cream mixture. Scatter over a little chopped dill and dot with a tiny amount of garlic oil, if using. Continue layering like this until the potatoes have been used up. Patience is the key here; you don't want to be in a rush.
There will most likely be a little cream mixture left over. If so, pour a small amount, around 1/4 cup, over the top of the potatoes. Discard any extra cream mix (or give it to the cat, they love it).
Cover the terrine with aluminium foil and place into a baking tray. Add hot water to come half way up the side of the terrine. Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the terrine from the oven and take off the foil. Insert a skewer into the potatoes, it should sink in easily. If you can feel any resistance, place back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
One the terrine is cooked, turn up the oven to 220° C (440° F) - (Gas mark 4) and place the terrine back in the oven, uncovered this time. Cook for another 10 minutes to give the top a little colour and crunch.
Remove the terrine from the oven and allow to cool completely. Using a small knife, cut around the edge of the terrine to remove it from the mold. Gently turn the terrine upside down and tap until the potatoes come away. If all goes well, you will have a funky looking potato brick. You can store the terrine at this stage for up to 2 days in the refrigerator; in fact it slices much more easily when cold.
To serve, cut the terrine into 1 cm slices. Place on a tray and grill (broil) for several minutes until they are warmed through and golden brown on top. Arrange the slices on plates and garnish with some rocket leaves and smoked salmon. Drizzle over some crème fraiche and plenty of black pepper