Alicia Hitchcock of Alicia’s Cookery and Catering in Brea, CA recently invited us into her kitchen to learn how to make a simple country pâté. She suggested that we film the process so she could share it with her friends and customers. So take a look and get inspired! Alicia makes it look easy… and guess what? It is! Pâté can be simple, quick to assemble and delicious! Keep reading this post for the full written recipe…
Pate de Campagne (Country Pate)
This recipe is inspired by a recipe from Anne Willan’s “The Country Cooking of France” (Chronicle, 2007). It is important to age your pate for a few days to allow the flavors to develop to their fullest. This pate will cook well in a traditional earthenware “terrine” or in a metal loaf pan – however cooking times will vary with different cooking vessels. This recipe affords enough filling for a generous terrine – you may wish to make two smaller pates and give one to a deserving friend! The classic accompaniment to Pate de Campagne is cornichons and the best crusty French bread you can find.
A meat grinder, pate terrine or deep loaf pan with a lid, weights for compressing the mold after cooking (tin cans work well).
24 to 32 ounces good quality bacon
2 lbs boneless pork shoulder
18 ounces pork belly fat (see note)
8 ounces veal stew meat
8 ounces chicken livers
2 tbs. butter
2 yellow onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs. salt
4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
3 tsp. quatre epices (see note)
½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp. ground dried bay leaf
4 eggs, beaten
6 tbs. cognac
1 cup hazelnuts or pistachios (optional)
6 dried bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Line your terrine or loaf pan with the bacon, ensuring that you have enough to cover the top of the filling prior to baking. While not critical, try to avoid too much overlap of the bacon pieces. Heat your oven to 350. Trim the pork, pork belly, veal and chicken livers of any undesirable membranes or sinew, and cut them into 1 inch chunks. Chill the meats in the freezer until very firm, about 15 minutes.
While the meats are chilling, begin your filling. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Work the chilled meats through the coarse grid of your meat grinder into a large bowl. Add the cooled onion, garlic, salt, pepper, quatre epices, nutmeg and ground bay and stir with a wooden spoon to mix thoroughly. Beat in the eggs and cognac, and then the nuts if using. At this point you may sauté a chunk of the filling in a skillet to check for seasoning. The mixture is intentionally quite spicy as it mellows later. Adjust the seasonings as necessary and proceed to fill your terrine(s). Fill the terrine to the top; the pate will shrink during cooking. Cover the filled terrines with the reserved bacon, trimming and removing any excess bacon. Put the bay leaves and thyme sprigs on top of the filled terrine, and cover with the lid.
Place the terrine(s) in a deep roasting pan and fill the roasting pan half-way with boiling water to make a water bath; place the roaster in the oven. Cook the pate for 1 ¾ hours to 2 hours, refilling the bath with hot water if it evaporates (cooking time may be shorter with a metal mold). Test the pate by inserting an instant read thermometer into the center, it should register 165 degrees.
Take the terrine(s) from the water bath and led cool to tepid. Remove the lid and set a 2-lb. weight on top to compress the filling. A brick wrapped in plastic wrap is an ideal size for many terrines. You may cut cardboard to size and line with foil, then weight with cans as well. Chill the terrine in the refrigerator for 12 hours. Remove the weights, cover the mold again with the lid, and store in the refrigerator for at least 3 days before serving.
Pate de Campagne may be served in the terrine, or unmolded and sliced. The pate will always taste best at room temperature.
Note: Pork belly fat is becoming easier to find. It is generally possible to order from any butcher, while some keep it in stock regularly. Quatre Epices is a traditional French seasoning, comprised of four or more different spices in varying quantities. I make my own, the proportions being 2 tsp. ground white pepper, ½ tsp. nutmeg, 1 tsp. cinnamon, ¼ tsp. ground clove, and ½ tsp. allspice.