Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Mocking Terrapin

gMock terrapin is not the real thing, but it has merit. You could say that terrapin is to Baltimore what snapper soup is to Philadelphia. Terrapin, however, is far scarcer than snapper meat, and protecting its population is paramount. I've been unable to locate terrapin this winter anywhere in Baltimore. The only place in town I'm aware of that serves it is the private Maryland Club. A recent article in the Baltimore Sun described an enterprise on the Maryland's Eastern Shore where terrapin is being farmed, which I hope to have the opportunity to visit in coming weeks.

Its source , Maryland's Way, is also the source from which our previous Unique Culinary Adventures post about chicken salad evolved. Its recipes represent the roots of Maryland cuisine, which figure prominently in our family's tradition of a lavish Christmas night dinner.

Breast of veal, which is the principal ingredient for this dish, is not always easy to find. It's probably best to order some from a butcher in advance. However, shortly before Christmas, I was able to find some on the spur of the moment at Tony Tamberino, Inc. in the Lexington Market.

Mock Terrapin

3 pounds breast of veal
1 bay leaf
1 onion, sliced
1/2 pound calf's liver
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
cayenne to taste
fresh grated nutmeg to taste
sherry to taste
salt and pepper

Boil the veal in enough water to cover well. Add bay leaf, onion, pepper, and salt. Cook until meat will shred with a fork, about two hours. Remove meat, shred, and reserve the stock. Roll calf's liver in flour. Fry until no blood runs when stuck with a fork. Cut in small pieces to imitate terrapin liver. Brown some flour and make a thin sauce with some of the stock. Reserve the remaining stock for another use. Add shredded meat, liver, and chopped hard boiled eggs. Season with cayenne, nutmeg, and sherry, then serve immediately. If any mock terrapin is left over, it will probably require additional seasoning when reheated.
This recipe was inspired by Maryland's Way, copyright 1966, Hammond Harwood House, Annapolis, Maryland. The only changes were some elaboration and to use chopped hard-boiled eggs in their entirety as opposed to just the yolks.