This terrine highlights the color and the flavor of the its ingredients. Consider the introduction of an infused herb oil, drizzled over the terrine and onto the plate before serving.
2 large eggplants (about 1 pound each)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 head garlic
2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
4 red bell peppers
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
13 ounces mild, soft goat cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Slice eggplants lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips, cutting as evenly as possible. Place strips on well oiled baking sheets and brush them with the olive oil, reserving 1/2 teaspoon. Roast in oven for 20 minutes, until just tender. Set aside to cool.
3. Cut off the top of the head of garlic, exposing a cross section of each clove. Wrap garlic in aluminum foil, sprinkle with the reserved 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of the coarse salt, and roast in the 425°F oven for 30 minutes, or until the cloves are soft. Set aside to cool.
4. Roast peppers over open flame or under the broiler until skins are black, turning peppers to char skins evenly. Place peppers in a paper bag, close the bag, and leave for 30 minutes. Wipe charred skins off with paper towels. Carefully remove stems and seeds, leaving the flesh in one piece if possible. Flatten peppers on a sheet pan (peppers will tear naturally into a few pieces). Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of the coarse salt.
5. Remove garlic cloves from their skins. Place them in a mixing bowl with the goat cheese, cream, thyme, 1 1/2 teaspoons of coarse salt, black pepper, and nutmeg. Beat well with a wooden spoon, mixing thoroughly.
6. Lightly oil a 12 inch x 4 inch x 3 inch terrine and line with plastic wrap, leaving at least 6 inches of plastic wrap hanging over the edges on all sides. Line the bottom with about 1/6 of the eggplant strips, and line the sides of the terrine with another 1/6 of the eggplant strips. (Try to fit the slices in as neatly as possible; a little trimming may be necessary.) Arrange a layer of red pepper pieces on top of the eggplant, using about 1/4 of the peppers (trim the peppers to the width of the terrine, so they fit neatly). Spread 1/4 of the cheese mixture evenly on top of the peppers. Repeat this layering process 3 times, finishing with a final layer of eggplant. Trim the eggplant to fit perfectly. Fold the plastic wrap tightly over the top and cover the terrine with its lid.
7. Place terrine in a larger baking pan, and bake in a preheated 400°F oven. Before closing the door, fill the baking pan with enough hot water to come three- fourths of the way up the sides of the terrine. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the terrine is 160°F. Cool and refrigerate overnight.
8. One hour before serving, remove terrine from refrigerator. Grab the plastic wrap on the sides of the terrine, and carefully lift it to loosen the terrine from the pan. When it's loosened, invert terrine onto a baking sheet and carefully remove plastic wrap. Allow terrine to sit out for about 1 hour, so that it warms slightly. Slice off messy ends using a very sharp knife. Discard. Slice the remaining terrine into 3/8 inch-thick slices, and serve 2 slices per person.
It started in the eighties at some trendy restaurant somewhere; within a few years, every creative chef in America was making his or her version of the eggplant, red pepper, and goat cheese terrine. It's now an eggplant classic that fully deserves its status—and now deserves the attention of home chefs. Use a very sharp knife to slice the terrine when it's done. Some chefs even use electric knives, and slice it fairly thin. It's delicious all by itself—but very often you'll find it drizzled with some sort of herb-infused oil, often basil oil. Serves 12 to 16 as a first course