To make a perfect Pâté.
First, what is usually called Pâté is not a true Pâté but a Terrine or Terrine Maison. The word Pâté comes from paste or pastry. A true Pâté is cooked in a pastry crust. Why is that? In the days before mechanical refrigeration, Pâté was one of the things you made at butchering time, along with sausages, headcheese etc. to preserve the meat. Pâté was baked in a pastry crust to keep the meat inside from getting contaminated by falling debris, rodent dung, etc. while it sat on the shelf in the pantry. When it was baked in a dish only, without the pastry crust is was a Terrine.
Anyway, whether call it a Pâté or a Terrine, here is my method. Oh another thing, Pâté is often not made completely from liver, in fact, some Pâté has no liver in it at all. I usually make mine from a combination of ground pork and liver or chicken and chicken liver or any combination of meats. When using pork I like to use pork liver, but it’s hard to find in the U.S. so beef liver will do. I also usually include quite a bit of vegetable material and herbs. It use to be traditional to line the baking pan with fat back or bacon but out of respect for my arteries I no longer do that. I do not find that the product is compromised at all. A good Pâté or Terrine should age for at least a week.
Basic Pork and liver Pâté
1 large or 2 medium yellow onions, coarsely chopped
8 to 10 cloves of garlic, chopped
Italian seasoning or fresh herbs of choice – (to taste)
¼ pound pork or beef liver
1 pound ground pork
3 or 4 eggs
Water enough for processing
About ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley or to taste
Salt and coarse ground black pepper to taste
Sugar – (optional)
Preheat oven to 325°. In a heavy skillet, gently sauté the onion, garlic and herbs in a bit of olive oil. Set aside. Wipe the pan and gently sauté the liver. It should still be quite pink inside. It’s preferable if it’s rare enough that a bit of blood will still run when it’s cut. Set aside.
In a blender of food processor, puree the sautéed onions, garlic and herbs. Add the sautéed liver and one of the eggs and continue blending until a smooth past is achieved. Begin adding the ground pork and puree as well. Add the eggs alternately with the pork. If the mixture becomes a bit too thick for your blender or food processer you may add a bit of water.
When thoroughly blended, stir in the parsley and season to taste with salt and fresh, coarse ground black pepper.
Put a spoonful in a small dish and nuke for a minute. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Line a standard 9 x 5 x 3 inch Pyrex loaf pan with baker’s parchment. Do this in such a way that the ends of the parchment hang over the long way of the pan by 3 or 4 inches. Fill the pan with the pureed meat mixture. Smooth the top and gently press the parchment flaps over it. Place the meat filled loaf pan in a larger pan and fill the large pan with enough cold water to come halfway up the sides of the loaf pan. Place in the center of the preheated oven. Bake for about 1 ½ hours or until a table knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Carefully remove from the oven and allow to cool for about half an hour for safety. While the Pâté is cooling wrap a standard clay brick is two or three layers of aluminum foil. Place the foil wrapped brick inside a food quality plastic bag or wrap in plastic wrap.
When the Pâté is cool enough that you won’t burn yourself, remove it from the larger pan and discard and water remaining in the large pan. Set the Pâté back in the larger pan. Place the brick on top and gently press down. There should be pan juices that will rise up and spill over the edge into the larger pan. Continue pressing gently until most of the fat and juices have been pressed out of your Pâté.
Mix about a teaspoon of sugar with half a cup of brandy. Unfold the parchment from the top of the Pâté and pour on as much of the brandy as the pan will hold. Refold the parchment over the top and allow the Pâté to completely cool. When cooled, wipe the outside of the loaf pan clean of fat and place in the refrigerator.
The next day add more brandy. Continue doing this for two or three days before using. I like my Pâté to be aged for at least a week. If you keep adding a bit of brandy each day your Pâté will last for two or three weeks. Actually that’s a lie. I’ve never been able to have one last that long. They’re just too good.
As you can see, this makes quite a lot of Pâté. You won’t want to serve the whole thing at once unless you are entertaining, in which case, turn it out onto an elegant serving platter, surround with parsley and lemon wedges and accompany with toast fingers or slices of baguette or brown bread. I prefer whole grain dark bread, toast fingers are traditional however.
For smaller events simply remove a 2 or 3 inch slice from the loaf pan and place on a serving plate with parsley, lemon wedges and perhaps a few radishes, and of curse toast or bread.
Pate is so expensive to purchase and so inexpensive and easy to make. The main problem is, it’s rather difficult just to make a little bit.