Monday, January 24, 2011

Pâté de Campagne

If you've ever had fresh homemade pâté or mousse, you know it can be really good.
While pâtés can be bought, they're not always great food. Interestingly, one would think that if something is for sale in a store it would have to be "good." Sadly, I'm sure we all know this isn't true.

Perhaps it's a matter of taste. Perhaps it's a completely personal opinion. But perhaps some people really aren't aware of what constitutes good.

In this country, we certainly have a problem with speed and lack of patience. We want something, and we want it now. We're generally not willing to sit down (or maybe we're not allowed the time) for a leisurely lunch. Fast food, processed food, chemicals, packaged food, and junk is the norm.

Oatmeal is a fine example. Instead of waiting something like 5-10 minutes for normal oats, we have the easy convenience of quick oats that cook in a minute. You add hot liquid and *BAM*-
they're done. If you compare the quick oats to normal oats, the quick ones are a sad comparison. They look like dust and crumbled little scraps of paper. Delish.

In reality, good things take time.
I'm not going to tell you pâté is a healthy food. In moderation, of course, it's just fine. And if you've made it yourself, you know exactly what's in it.

I know a couple people who love pâté and would probably love to make their own pâté, so this is for them.

It's great to have a small slice with crusty French bread, cornichons, and Dijon Mustard along with a green salad for lunch or a light dinner.
It also goes for a first course or as part of an appetizer offering.

The idea of making pâté may seem daunting, but it's really not that bad. It takes a little time, but it's all done a day or so ahead of time.
Plus, all the ingredients are fairly accessible.

It's pâté, people, pâté! And YOU made it! How special.
A friend made us a recipe and we LOVED it. So, this is my riff on it.
The original was developed by Molly Wizenberg, and the original recipe was published in Bon Appetit several years ago.

It's a little rustic, salty, meaty, deep and rich, substantial, with a few different textures involved. I know, it looks like it involves a lot of fat. True.
But, according to Wizenberg the fat actually lightens the meat. I believe it.
I'll also say that I'd rather have a lighter pâté than a brick-like piece of meat.
But that's just me- I won't speak for anyone else.

Pâté de Campagne
serves 20

3/4 c Cognac or brandy
3 T unsalted butter
1 c minced shallots
2 1/2 lb. ground pork
12 oz bacon (8-10 slices) finely chopped, plus 14 bacon slices (for lining pan)
4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
2 t salt
3 t dried thyme
1 1/4 t allspice
1 t freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 c whipping cream
1/2 c pistachios
1 6 oz piece of ham, cut into 1/4 inch thick strips

For serving: coarse sea salt, cornichons, Dijon mustard, baguette

Set rack to lowest position in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
Boil Cognac or brandy until reduced to about 1/2 c, about 1 1/2 minutes. Cool.
Melt butter in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and saute until translucent, 5-8 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the pork and chopped bacon and stir with fingers until well blended. Add the sauteed shallots, garlic, allspice, salt, thyme, and pepper and stir until incorporated. Add the eggs, cream and reduced Cognac or brandy. Stir until well combined.
Using a mallet, the bottom of a small bowl, or a small heavy glass, pound the bacon slices slightly. This will widen them and make them more pliable so that it is easier to line the pan.
With the pounded bacon, line a 9x5x13 inch metal loaf pan- 8 slices crossways along the width of the pan, and 3 slices along each of the short sides of the pan. Make sure to overlap the bacon slices on all sides.
Mix about half of the pork mixture with the pistachios. Lightly and evenly press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Arrange the ham strips over the pistachio pork in a single layer. Top with the remaining meat mixture.
Fold the bacon slices over, covering the pâté (it will probably be above the edge of the pan). Cover the pan tightly with foil. Place the loaf pan in a large roasting pan and transfer the whole thing to the oven. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan halfway up the sides of the loaf pan.
Bake until a thermometer inserted through the foil in the center registers 155 degrees F, about 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Remove the loaf pan from the the roasting pan and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Place a heavy skillet or a few heavy cans atop the pate to weigh it down. Chill overnight.
Can be made 4 days ahead.
To serve: Place the loaf pan with the pate in a larger pan of hot water for about 3 minutes. Invert pâté onto platter. Discard fat from platter and wipe clean. Cut pâté into slices about 1/2 inch thick.
Pâté should be served at room temperature or slightly cool.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. EXactly, what were the changes you made to the original recipes and WHY did you do that ?
    Just wondering...

  3. Great, Natalie. Pate is an excellent fruit of patience ... This is soooo good, I can assure everybody!
    (The above comment from 1:11 PM corrected as per writer)

  4. I am so glad you mentioned foods that are better when you take the time and fix them for yourself instead of buying frozen etc. It is healthier and
    even more satisfying. Maybe we should plan ahead more. We should do this kind of cooking with our children!

  5. The changes I made to the original included increasing thyme and garlic, decreasing allspice and salt, adding pistachios, and swapping the more garlicky shallots for the originally called-for onions.