Pâté is a four letter word. Foie gras are two four letter words. Either way, they conjure up a vision of something unhealthy, that takes too long to make, that is a hotsy-totsy food. There are many reasons for not touching the stuff.
On the other hand, in that gourmet section of your grocery store, the pâté or foie gras sits there and beckons you. The texture, whether smoothly seductive or granular like some special meatloaf, simply announces: “Inside this small package is a wealth of flavor for you. Just buy me. Yes, buy me. Get a loaf of bread, a bottle of wine, and pretend you are back in the 60’s or 70’s or whatever.”
There is the secret. You do not eat this every single day, unless you have 100% French genes. You just eat a little, now and then. And you share this treasure with someone special. I have never ever eaten pâté by myself. I swear. Now, I can’t say that about Junior Mints, or Oreos, or chocolate ice cream, or fudge, or … Alright, you understand. I have a high level of culinary selfishness. But when it comes to pâté, I always share.
With this delightful recipe from Tartine Bread, you can even share the cooking tasks. This recipe is described as an everyday pâté and has been designed for swift, simple preparation. As a party starter, you will grab praise as your guests sample away. Don’t skimp here. There is a cognac butter that is truly essential to the complete flavor experience. If you can’t escape to France, you can buy some duck or chicken livers.
Yield: serves 4 to 6
For the foie:
- 6 duck or chicken livers
- Olive oil
- 3 shallots, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup cognac
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the cognac butter:
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon cognac
- Pinch of salt
- Several slices of toasted French bread or whole wheat bread
Rinse the livers in cold water and remove any visible fat or connective tissue. Heat a heavy skillet over high heat and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil begins to smoke, carefully add the livers and sear for about 30 seconds. Quickly turn the livers, add the shallots, and sear for another 30 seconds. Add the thyme and cook for a few seconds until it is aromatic. Remove the pan from the heat and pour off the excess oil and fat. While the pan is still hot, add 2 tablespoons of the butter and ¼ cup of the cognac, and deglaze the pan, stirring to loosen any brown bits sticking to the bottom. Transfer the contents of the pan to a food processor and let cool for 8 to 10 minutes.
Once the livers have cooled, add the remaining 4 tablespoons butter to the food processor and process to a thick puree. Add the salt and the remaining ¼ cup cognac and process again. Taste and add more salt if needed. Pour the liver puree into ramekins or into a suitably sized loaf or pâté pan.
To make the cognac butter, place the butter in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cognac until it is hot to the touch. Add it to the butter along with the salt. Stir the butter until it has a liquid consistency and then pour it evenly over the pâté. Cover and refrigerate until the cognac butter has set. Serve cool or at room temperature with toast.
Source: Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson and Eric Wolfinger
James Peterson is a master cook and author. So when he says his country terrine “is a bit more sophisticated than the usual versions” you want to pay attention. The layers of different ingredients here create a checkerboard pattern that is Parisian stunning. Making this dish requires a little patience, and probably a second set of hands as you layer the ingredients into the terrine. It’s worth every minute.
If you have been to Paris and walked through Fauchon and thought, “My God, how do they do that?” then this recipe is for you. The terrines and pates in the culinary hallways of the best French markets are really awe inspiring. These are creations that are true food art. You see the elements of a terrine and virtually taste them. You look at a mousse and just know it would be the smoothest thing you ever put in your mouth. And the cases are filled with all kinds of these goodies. It’s overwhelming. It’s intimidating.
And that’s when you have that moment of despair telling yourself that you could never, ever do this yourself.
Wrong. This terrine recipe works beautifully. I urge you to look at or buy a copy of Cooking by Peterson because in the book this recipe is accompanied by 20 color photographs that take you through each step.
Take an afternoon and treat yourself. Get a bottle, a really good bottle, of French red, because you are about to impress yourself.
Yield: 12 x 4” terrine offering 15 slices
- ⅔ cup shelled pistachios
- Scant 8 ounces Largo, sliced very thinly
- 5 ounces rough cubes lardo or fatback
- 5 ounces chicken livers
- 4 slices white bread
- ⅔ cup all milk
- 2 whole eggs
- 2 pounds pork shoulder chops or 1 ½ pounds cubed pork shoulder meat
- 4 ounces lardo or fatback, sliced ⅛ to ¼ inch thick
- 4 ounces prosciutto, sliced ⅛ to ¼ inch thick
- 1 clove garlic, minced, fresh two paste
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme, chopped fine
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon find salt
- ⅛ teaspoon olive oil
Plunge the pistachios quart of boiling water and simmer for one minute. Drain in a strainer and rinsed with cold water. Rub the pistachios vigorously together in a towel to loosen the skins. Peeled them by pinching between thumb and finger.
Line the terrine with the thin slices of lardo or fatback, leaving a couple inches of excess hanging over the side area.
Combine the cubes of lardo with the chicken livers and puree in a food processor for one minute until smooth.
Cut the crusts off the bead and work the brad with milk to paste. Combine this with the eggs and chicken liver mixture until smooth.
Chop the pork shoulder meat in the food processor until the consistency of coarse hamburger. Combine this mixture with the chicken liver mixture.
Slice the lardo or fatback prosciutto into ⅛-inch to ¼-inch thick strips.
Stir the garlic, thyme, pepper, spices, salt into the forcemeat mixture. Make a tiny hamburger and cook it in the olive oil in a sauté pan. Taste it to judge the seasoning and adjust accordingly, keeping in mind that the garnitures — strips of prosciutto of lardo —are salty.
Spread one fifth of the forcemeat mixture into the bottom of the lined terrine. Arrange one fourth of the prosciutto and lardo in strips across the length of the terrine. Spread over another one fifth of the forcemeat mixture and another one fourth of the prosciutto and lardo and one third of the nuts. Continuing layering in this way, using the nuts for three of the layers until you fill the terrine. Finish with a layer of forcemeat.
Fold the overlapping strips of lardo over the top of the terrine person place.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place a rectangle of parchment paper on top of the terrine.
Fold a triple layer of aluminum foil into a rectangle 1 inch longer and wider than the terrine, and press this onto the terrine and fold over the edges of the terrine area.
Put the terrine in a roasting pan with hot tap water, place the pan on the stove over high heat until the water comes to simmer. Slide the roasting pan with the terrine into the oven. Bake for about one hour or until a thermometer inserted in the into the middle measures 150°F.
Take out a roasting pan and let cool at room temperature for one hour and then in the refrigerator overnight. Remove the foil parchment paper and slide a knife around the sides of the paté. Serve the terrine by cutting slices from out of the mold or unmold in the whole terrine and then slicing it.
Source: Cooking by James Peterson