Aubergine and red pepper terrine – never disappoints
The inspiration for this dish comes from a version invented by Gary Danko, head chef at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco some decades ago.
And I’ve been returning to it again and again over decades. It is my go-to, always popular, always impressive dinner party starter. I have been asked for the recipe for this terrine time and time again.
Allow plenty of time to make this – but don’t be put off, it’s not so time-consuming for the cook, but you need to allow time for draining, weighting etc. It must be made at least a day ahead – ideally three.
Don’t be tempted not to bother skinning the peppers. By roasting and skinning you make the flesh softer and give it a wonderful smoky taste. You also make the terrine easier to cut and it looks more impressive.
Aubergine and red pepper terrine recipe
- 5-6 medium aubergines
- 50g/1½ oz – tin of good quality (I like Ortiz) anchovies in olive oil – about 16 anchovies
- about 12 fat cloves of garlic
- 360 ml/1½ cup olive oil, plus up to a cup extra for frying the aubergines
- 170g/6 oz black olive tapenade – Belazu is a good one
- 10 red peppers
- 2 tbsps thick balsamic vinegar
- About twenty pitted black olives
- 1 small bag (about 60g/2 oz) rocket or watercress
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Toast or crispbread
- Preheat the oven to 210°C.
- Cut the aubergines lengthwise into ¼”/1 cm slices. Lightly salt them, and put them into a colander to drain for half an hour.
- Mash up the anchovies (reserve the oil in the tin).
- Peel and crush the garlic cloves.
- Heat 240 ml/1 cup of olive oil; the garlic, the anchovies, the olive oil from the anchovy tin, and the tapenade, and get it warm. Leave to infuse.
- Now you need to peel the peppers. A quick way to do this is to halve them lengthways and deseed and core. Lay them, skin side up, on an oiled roasting tin and put into the oven for 20-30 minutes – until the skin has charred and blackened. Then throw them into a large freezer bag and tie shut (it’s the vacuum formed by the cooling process which helps lift the skin). Leave for about five minutes. By then the skin should pretty much walk off the softened flesh.
- When the aubergine slices have finished draining lay out a few sheets of kitchen paper on a large shallow baking tray. Lay the aubergine slices over, cover with more kitchen paper, place a baking sheet over that, and weight it. Leave for an hour, or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
- Brush each slice of aubergine with olive oil (not the special infused oil you’ve made) and fry – you will need to do this in batches.
- Oil a 30 cm/12” x 12 cm/3” ideally, springform, loaf tin – I think the Dr Oetker one is ideal . Line the bottom and sides with aubergine slices. Brush the top of the floor layer of aubergine with the infused oil.
- Put a layer of red peppers down, and brush that layer with the infused oil. Then a layer of aubergines, brush again….and so on. Finish with a layer of aubergines.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Cover with clingfilm and weight it (with a long tin and a few tins) and put it in the fridge for 1-3 days.
- Make a dressing of the remaining 120ml/½ cup of olive oil (a peppery olive oil goes well here); the balsamic vinegar; salt and pepper; and the sliced black olives.
- To serve, unmould the terrine straight from the fridge (it’s easier to slice when it’s cold), and use a super-sharp broad knife (a cleaver would do well) to slice it. There may be some hearty juices left in the tin – put into a pretty jug and serve with the terrine.
- Shred the rocket or watercress leaves roughly, dress and toss, and serve the terrine with a little salad to the side, and a basket of toast or crispbread, and any juices, for people to help themselves.