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How to Make Forcemeats

How to Make Forcemeats

Each type of forcemeat results in a different texture once cooked. Let to right, top to bottom: straight fourcemeat, country-style forcemeat, gratin fourcemeat, mousseline fourcemeat (photo, CIA)

Culinary Institute of America

Main ingredients

Forcemeats, like sausages, are made from raw products, with the exception of the gratin forcemeat. Some classic choices for forcemeats include pork; fish such as pike, trout, or salmon; seafood such as shrimp and scallops; game meats such as venison, boar, or rabbit; poultry and game birds; and poultry, game, veal, or pork livers. When selecting cuts of red and white meat, opt for well-exercised cuts, since they have a richer flavor than very tender cuts, such as the tenderloin or loin. However, meats to be used as garnishes can easily be the more delicate portions: tenderloin of lamb, rabbit, or pork, or poultry breasts, for example. Often, recipes for shrimp or scallop mousseline call for a quantity of pike to ensure a good primary bind.

An adequate amount of fat is also important. Fatback is considered to have a neutral flavor and can be paired with most meats. Mousselines made from delicate white meats, fish, or shellfish generally call for heavy cream.

To prepare the meat and fatback for a forcemeat, it should first be trimmed of any gristle, sinew, or skin. The meat is then cut into dice, so it can drop easily through the feed tube of a grinder or be quickly processed to a paste in a food processor.

Salt and seasonings

Salt plays a vital role in producing good forcemeats. The salt acts to draw out the proteins in the meat (these proteins are the primary source of the forcemeat’s “bind”), and it also adds its own unique flavor. Classic recipes often call for ground spices such as quatre épices, which is a combination of pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. Seasoning or marinating meat prior to grinding will further enhance its flavor.

Herbs, aromatic vegetables such as onions or mushrooms, wines, cognacs, grain-based spirits, or vinegars may also be added. In some cases, a reduction of garlic or shallots, herbs, wines, glace de viande or volaille, and other flavoring ingredients may be made. This reduction should be thoroughly chilled before adding it to the meats.

It is always important to follow basic formulas carefully as you are learning to make forcemeats, and to properly test and taste forcemeats each time you make them.

For more about forcemeat ingredients, continue to the next page—>