Hang on, before you start freaking out let's sit down and calmly discuss this. Gelatin (or gelatine if you want to be fancier) is a very common item found in huge variety of products, and not all of them are food. It's derived from collagen present in animal skin and bone, so to be honest, gelatin is a savory item from the beginning. Natural gelatin is the reason why veal jus, when chilled, is so darn thick.
There's no flavor to it, unless you overheat it, and then it actually gets kind of a meaty note. It became really widespread in sweeter products due to its general lack of taste, and, for a large part, its greater thickening ability over other ingredients, such as pectin, starches and the like.
When most people think of gelatin, they immediately swerve to the sweet side (probably because of the aforementioned Bill Cosby product), but there is a whole family of savory items that greatly enjoy the benefits of gelatin. Terrines, mousses, and aspics are all very classic garde manger items, and while most home cooks have little exposure to these, they can be quite fun and interesting for entertaining guests or just putting together a unique dinner.
Since we don't have to worry about any flavor in gelatin, we can focus purely on whatever stock we're using for the terrine, and please - make sure it's strong! Heat has a side benefit of enhancing flavor, and cold the reverse, so make sure that vegetable stock is packed with flavor. Also, since gelatin is clear, use a nice, clean, strained stock, which will give you a translucent product that will show off the ingredients in the terrine perfectly. While you're showing off, make sure you have something to show – as in the video, layers and clever designs can be easily made, and are always preferable to a simple pile o' vegetables.
Oh, and one last thing – if presented with the choice of 'sheet' or 'powdered' gelatin, the choice is really up to you. There is quite a bit of ease with the powdered gelatin, and it's much easier to measure out a few teaspoons of gelatin than go about breaking whole sheets into sections. Either kind will produce the exact same result, though, so the choice is yours!
Once your realize that gelatin isn't exclusively Jell-O, you'll start to see how many ways it can help your own cooking, from giving form to a terrine to even giving a typically thin sauce a bit more body and mouth feel. Just know that when you're cooking with savory gelatine, you're kicking it old school.
Combine the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until blended.
Cut all vegetables lengthwise into 1/8-in-thick slices and add to the marinade. Toss to coat.
Line 3 baking sheets with oiled parchment and spread out the vegetables on top in a single layer.
Roast the vegetables in a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.
Place gelatin in cold stock and allow to bloom. About 5 minutes. Heat the gelatin over a hot water bath or in a microwave on low power to dissolve the granules.
Line a terrine mold with plastic wrap, leaving an overhang, and assemble the terrine by alternating layers of vegetables and the gelatin until the terrine is filled. Fold the plastic wrap over and smooth the top. Place in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours till gelatin sets.
To un-mold the finished terrine, invert it (in the mold, in the plastic wrap) onto a flat work surface. Hold one end of the plastic wrap onto the counter and lift the mold away with the other hand. To serve, place the wrapped terrine on a cutting board and cut into 1/2-in-thick slices, cutting through the plastic wrap. Remove the plastic wrap after the slices are arranged on plates or platters.
So the last time that we talked about mushrooms, we were covering duxelle. The key lesson with the duxelle had been patience, and how you couldn't rush it – if you cooked it too fast, you'd scorch the mushrooms and get that nasty burnt flavor.
For the mushroom en croûte, we're going to go back to talking about patience, but this time in regards to baked goods.
The first thing to cover would be the dish we're preparing in the video – the mushroom en croûte. The pastry we wrap around the duxelle-stuffed portabella mushroom is what's called "puff pastry". Reason why? It puffs up! Hmmmmm... ; ) Puff pastry is technically known as a laminated dough, since it consists of many layers, like laminate flooring. Croissant and danish dough are also laminated, and they all share the similar attribute of layers of butter and dough. The butter melts and steams, causing the pastry to rise up. There's a specific temperature you want to use when baking these kinds of dough, and 375-400º F is about right.
Now, some people tend to crank the oven up even higher than that, which can work for an en croûte – up to a point. The higher heat browns up the pastry rather nicely, which looks great, but this all goes back to the patience thing. One problem is that the pastry doesn't cook all the way through, so you don't get all the crispy, crunchy layers out of the pastry that you should. The innards of the en croûte won't heat up either, so you'll have a nicely browned and attractive appetizer, but it won't be as crunchy or as hot inside as you'd like.
It may pain you to have to wait by the oven for the en croûte to cook all the way through, and you may want to pull it out when it gets golden brown. But the important thing about puff pastry is that you cook it longer than you'd think, since it really needs that extra time in the oven to get completely crisp. Puff pastry is tough – don't worry about it, it can handle the long time – and don't stress about it drying out, either. You've got all that delicious, moist filling inside to counterpoint the crunchiness of the shell.
So bake it hot (but not too hot) and for a while, and you'll have an en croûte that's just right.
- Chef Savage
MUSHROOM EN CROUTE
6 PORTABELLA MUSHROOMS
½ C BALSAMIC VINEGAR
6 CLOVES GARLIC
Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
Take mushrooms, flip them upside down and take the stem off and scrap the fins with a spoon. Place in a baking dish.
Chop garlic and shallots in a food processer and slowly add in vinegar and water till combined. Pour vinegar mixture evenly over mushrooms and then cover with foil. Cook in oven for 1.5 hours. Most of the liquid should evaporate but not all and the mushrooms should be fork tender. Cool mushrooms in refrigerator.
Mix together Duxelle and feta. Split mixture between the six mushrooms.
Steam the spinach and place over the Duxelle covering it entirely.
Take thawed puff pastry and using a lattice cutter roll it over the pastry cutting the whole pastry in one direction. Very gently cut the pastry sheet into 4x4 squares. Take one square and carefully spread open trying to keep the each opening the same. Then place over the mushroom and tuck the extra pastry under and repeat till all are covered. Spay each with a vegetable spray and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees.