Rich Pork Liver Pâté Recipe

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Would you splash out on mincing and sous-vide machines in pursuit of the perfect pâté de campagne? Order pig fat & offal from the butcher? Or just pop to lớn the supermarket for some Shippam’s meat paste?

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Perfect country pâté. Photographs: Felicity Cloake for the Guardian Photograph: Felicity Cloake/Guardian
Perfect country pâté. Photographs: Felicity Cloake for the Guardian Photograph: Felicity Cloake/Guardian

I must confess that I’ve been avoiding pâté de campagne. It’s not that I don’t lượt thích the stuff – loaded on to hunks of bread in great meaty wodges, it’s a pretty unbeatable lunch – yet I had a sneaking suspicion that making it myself wasn’t going khổng lồ be quite as easy as knocking up a silky chicken liver or a creamy smoked mackerel pâté. A coarsely textured terrine of pork, offal và fat seemed a more daunting proposition, somehow.

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For a start, pâté de campagne contains all sorts of mysterious chunks beneath its jellied crust which I rightly surmised would be hard lớn come by in 21st-century Britain. For another, I had a horrible feeling I might need khổng lồ invest in a mincing machine. Admittedly, this gadget had been on my các mục for some time, ever since I embarked on the perfect burger and discovered how inconsistent supermarket mince could be, but still, it wasn’t a project that was going khổng lồ be doable in an afternoon. So is homemade pâté de campagne worth the effort, or is it one of those dishes best left lớn the professionals?


The meat



Our Daily Brine’s pate de campagne. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/GuardianAs Julia Child explains in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, pâté de campagnes “vary in nội dung and flavour throughout France, but always contain pork liver, pork, & sometimes other meats, as well as pork fat, a binder và the usual seasoning”.

Pork shoulder, a flavourful cut well marbled with fat, is the most popular base in the pâté recipes I try, used by Raymond Blanc’s Foolproof French Cookery & Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook. Michel Roux’s The Essence of French Cooking suggests pork neck & Julia Child “fat-and-lean fresh pork” such as sausagemeat. Blanc also uses pork belly and Child adds lean veal or chicken. I suspect Blanc’s pork belly is a goodwill gesture towards his readers, because almost all the other recipes use pork fat, which is somewhat more difficult to lớn get hold of on its own, though your butcher should be able lớn find you some if you give him or her notice. (He and Our Daily Brine, the other recipe to omit it, also add bacon khổng lồ the mixture, which helps to lớn up the fat content.)

I think that, sadly, some pure fat is essential – it gives the pâté a surprising lightness of texture particularly evident in Roux and Bourdain’s versions, without adding too much salt, as the bacon tends to. Pork shoulder, which is far easier to lớn get hold of than pork neck, will khung the bulk of the pâté. Roux and Bourdain both marinate their meat overnight before use, which definitely seems lớn help in the flavour department if you’ve got the time; this is not instant gratification. Blanc whizzes his meats up in the food processor, which I’d love to lớn say works just fine, but in fact makes it rather mushy; you need lớn mince it, preferably fairly coarsely, lớn give that authentic chunky texture. As you’re going to lớn have to lớn go khổng lồ the butcher anyway, ask him to vì chưng the hard work for you.

The offal



Michel Roux’s pate de campagne. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/GuardianThat’s not all, though – a great variety of offal goes into pâtés, as befits their rustic roots. Blanc, Bourdain & Roux use pig’s liver, Child và Our Daily Brine calf & chicken liver respectively, and the last also pops in a pig’s kidney for good measure. I’m not sure the kidney contributes much khổng lồ be honest, unless you’ve got one in need of using up, but the slightly sweet, earthy flavour of liver is essential. The stronger flavoured pig’s version worked better with the other porky ingredients, if you can find some (and given you’ll probably have khổng lồ order in the pork fat, asking for this too shouldn’t be a problem), but if not, substitute the subtler chicken variety instead. (And, should you be put off by the notion of a strongly flavoured liver, if you lượt thích French pork pâtés, you’ll like it, trust me.)

Binder



Julia Child’s pate de campagne. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/GuardianChild makes a rice “panade” to bind her pâté – rice cooked with butter & stock, then minced along with the rest – but egg alone is a more common choice. Roux and Our Daily Brine also add double cream, which gives the whole thing a really gorgeous richness. This is a special occasion dish, after all, so we may as well push the boat out.

Spices

Sweet spices are a popular choice, with Roux và Our Daily Brine using nutmeg and cloves, & Roux popping in ginger & Our Daily Brine mace, while Blanc puts in Chinese five-spice và juniper berries, và Bourdain và Child allspice. Our Daily Brine adds a generous amount of piment d’espelette, which, though it works well with the pork, I find a bit strident in flavour and colour. My testers also observe that they’ve been too generous with the salt – I’m not shy of the stuff, but you should be able khổng lồ taste the sweetness of the meat và spice too. I settle on Roux’s nutmeg, ginger và cloves as a well-rounded, warming combination.

Other flavours


Anthony Bourdain’s pate de campagne. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/GuardianMost people địa chỉ cửa hàng garlic and either onions or shallots – I prefer the sweetness of the shallot to lớn the sharper onion, especially when softened in butter as Child & Roux suggest. Herbwise, aromatic thyme seems more in keeping with the rest of the flavours than Bourdain’s peppery parsley.

Roux, Bourdain & Blanc all put white wine into their terrines, with Blanc, Bourdain & Our Daily Brine putting in some cognac for good measure. I like the stronger, sweeter flavour of the brandy; it seems more luxurious và again, country or not, this isn’t a dish you’re going to lớn make every day. Our Daily Brine, which has a brilliantly geeky post on the serious business of pâté, mentions that many recipes deploy what they refer khổng lồ as “an interior garnish … nuts, such as walnuts or pistachios, dried fruits such as cherries, figs or apricots, or the classic và coveted truffle”.

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They & Blanc nominate pistachios, which look pretty, though I’m not too keen on them with the other flavours here. They find more favour with some of my testers. They also use green peppercorns, which, though their colour is less vivid, work far better – you could go for the pink variety if you’re feeling particularly jaunty.

Cooking


Raymond Blanc’s pate de campagne. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/GuardianOur Daily Brine lines the terrines with bacon, Child and Roux with more pork fat and Bourdain with caul fat, the peculiarly beautiful lacy membrane that comes wrapped around the stomach of animals including pigs. This is super easy khổng lồ use, as it comes in large sheets, but as long as you use some sort of fat khổng lồ aid the turning out of the terrine, it doesn’t matter whether it’s caul, strips of back fat or just lard. Bacon looks pretty, but such long, slow cooking renders it chewy and disappointing. Bourdain also tops his with duck fat, which provides a helpful seal, but proves rather unpleasant at room temperature.

Traditionally, pâtés are baked in a bain-marie lớn moderate the temperature & prevent them overcooking & drying out. Cleverly, Our Daily Brine suggests using a sous-vide machine as a modern alternative, explaining that “one of the benefits of sous vide, literally ‘under vacuum’, is that a vacuum is used khổng lồ seal & compress the farce – both as it cooks và as it cools. Additionally, sous vide allows for more precise cooking; we are able to lớn set the water bath khổng lồ a precise 65.5C and cook the pâté lớn equilibrium.”

As I’m lucky enough to lớn have a sous-vide machine leftover from (what else) perfect fried eggs, I give this a try with half their mixture, & find that indeed the results hold together better than their oven-baked counterparts. It is certainly more precise, given the inevitable fluctuation in oven temperatures, but rest assured that you don’t need to splash out on one; the traditional method works just fine too. Make sure you weight down the terrine after cooking to compress the pâté, though. Blanc reckons this is “best prepared about two days in advance, so the flavours have time lớn mature”, và he’s right – it’ll keep for at least a week in the fridge. In theory, at least.

The perfect country pâté

(Serves 10)

500g pork shoulder, coarsely minced

250g pork back fat, minced

250g pig’s liver (or chicken), minced

5 tbsp brandy

¼ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

¼ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp freshly ground đen pepper

2 sprigs of thyme, leaves only, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Knob of butter

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 egg, beaten

2 tbsp double cream

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp green peppercorns

Caul fat, extra back fat cut into thin strips, or lard, khổng lồ line the dish

Put the mince in a large bowl & sprinkle with the brandy, spices, thyme and garlic. Mix well, cover & refrigerate overnight, removing from the fridge an hour before going on to lớn step two.

Melt the butter in a small frying pan và cook the shallots over a gentle heat until soft. Stir this into the meat mixture along with the egg, cream, salt & peppercorns.

Heat the oven khổng lồ 170C/325F/gas mark three & boil the kettle. Fry a small blob of the mixture in the pan to check the seasoning và adjust if necessary. Line a 20x10x6cm terrine dish or loaf tin with fat và spoon in the mixture. Cover tightly with foil or greaseproof paper and put in a roasting tin on the middle shelf of the oven. Pour in boiling water khổng lồ two thirds of the way up the terrine.

Bake for about 70 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 65-70C or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out warm all the way through. Put a plate on top of the terrine, weigh down with a couple of tins and allow lớn cool. Refrigerate, still with the tins on top, at least overnight, before serving.

Pâté de campagne: best meat paste ever, or not a patch on Shippam’s? What is your favourite style of pâté, và is it one dish you would prefer lớn leave lớn the professionals?

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