When I read that KDFC will be broadcasting the recording of San Francisco’s 1974 production of Verdi’s Luisa Miller starring Luciano Pavarotti, I was swept by a wave of sweet/sad reminiscence. Pavarotti is my all time favorite, but beyond that, the broadcast will include the late Scot Beach who hosted the original broadcast. Scott was a dear friend and my first voice teacher. He was a true renaissance man, a larger than life man, a man who embraced life. If you remember that great quote from Auntie Mame, “Life is a banquet and most poor fools are starving to death,” well, Scott never went hungry at that banquet.
Putting metaphors aside, Scott knew and enjoyed good food; it was one of the things we shared, exchanging recipes and on occasion cooking together. One holiday season, with the aid of Puccini, Pavarotti and a bit too much champagne we developed the following recipe:
Terrine Maison a la Turandot
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
½ pound ground pork
1 pound ground chicken
¼ pound chicken livers
1 tablespoon mixed dried herbs – (Italian seasoning)
½ teaspoon dry dill weed
A generous grating of nutmeg
1 tablespoon sugar
Chicken stock, broth or bouillon
Salt and fresh coarse ground black pepper to taste
2 fresh California Bay-Loral leaves
Preheat oven to 325. Pour a glass of champagne and out on your recording of Turandot. Heat the olive oil and gently sauté the onion and garlic until they are pinkish and translucent. Remove from the pan and place in a bowl. Pour another glass of champagne. Add a bit more olive oil to the skillet if necessary and begin gently sautéing the meats. Don’t cook them all the way. Everything should still be quite pinkish. Add the herbs, dill weed, nutmeg and sugar while you work. Pour another glass of Champagne.
Place the sautéed meats in the bowl with the onions and garlic and mix well. Add the eggs and puree. An immersion blender is very handy for this. Add as much chicken stock, broth or bouillon as is needed to make it easy to purée the mixture. Fry or nuke a spoonful to taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste and do another test. Turn your recording over and pour another glass of champagne.
Line a loaf pan with bakers parchment, leaving the ends hang out. These “handles” will make it easier to remove your terrine from the pan when finished. Place the bay leaves on top of the terrine. Cover with more baker’s parchment and place the loaf pan in a water bath and put on the center rack of your oven. Finish the champagne and weep as Luciano gives it his all in Nessun Dorma. It’s going to be in the oven for about two hours so you’d better open another bottle of Champagne and get out your recording of Madam Butterfly and perhaps Tosca as well.
When the terrine comes out of the oven, place on a wire rack and remove the parchment from the top. Make a mixture of ¾ cream Sherry and ¼ brandy and pour a generous amount over the terrine. Put more parchment or foil over the top and place a weight on it. When cool, refrigerate. It will be best if aged for three days to a week. Pour some of the Sherry/brandy over it several times a day.
When ready to serve, turn out of the loaf pan onto a serving plate, garnish with sprigs of fresh dill weed and a few radish roses. Serve with slices of sourdough baguette or fresh homemade brown bread and of course Champagne, Puccini and Pavarotti.