One of my favorite recipes from The Country Cooking of France is this Pate de Campagne. The recipe calls for grinding the meat using a real meat grinder. With all the appliances and kitchen gadgets I already had, I discovered I still lacked a meat grinder. I really wanted to test this recipe and suspected that if I liked the recipe I would repeat it over and over again, and expand to other pates. So, out I went to get a meat grinder. One taste of this recipe and I know that grinder was a wise purchase. The recipe worked out perfectly! Yes, it looked just like the photo in the book. This pate was as delicious as any I have had in any restaurant. OK, maybe not quite Paris, but of course everthing tastes better in Paris.
I have included all of Anne’s head notes in the recipe below, try it and knock yourself out!!!
Anne’s Head Notes and Recipe:
Every recipe for Pâté de Campagne is idiosyncratic, including this one, which was given to me by a traditional chef whose pâtés were renowned throughout Paris. Before departing for his annual three-week vacation in August, he would cook a few pâtés, seal them with lard, and then leave them in the unrefrigerated cellar for his return. He always maintained that these aged pâtés were the best of the whole year. Although I do agree that the longer a pâté is kept, the better it is, let’s not exaggerate the point. I make a ten-day wait my maximum.
A rich cut of pork, such as shoulder (most flavor in pork comes from the fat), is important to creating a succulent pâté. The pork belly fat I call for here should have only a little lean meat, and should not be smoked or salted. A favorite variation of mine is to mix a handful of toasted hazelnuts or pistachios into the filling. At the moment, there is a trend toward cooking this particular pâté uncovered in order to develop an agreeable brown, slightly crusty top. If you decide to follow fashion, cut the barding fat for topping into strips and arrange them in a decorative lattice, with the bay leaf and thyme sprig underneath it.
The terrine for baking should be literally that, a pot made of earthenware (terre cuite) to distribute heat slowly and evenly. Many contemporary terrine molds are made of enameled cast iron, which are fine to use, but the cooking time is often a good deal shorter. The classic accompaniment for Pâté de Campagne is cornichons, and plenty of the best crusty baguette you can find.
Serves 8 to 10
- 8 ounces/225 g barding fat (see glossary)
- 1 pound/450 g boneless pork shoulder
- 12 ounces/330 g pork belly fat
- 4 ounces/110 g veal escalopes
- 4 chicken livers (about 4 ounces/110 g total)
- Pâte à Luter (page 00), optional
- Salad leaves, for serving (optional)
- 1 tablespoon/15 g butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon quatre épices (see glossary) or ground allspice
- Pinch of grated nutmeg
- 2 eggs, beaten to mix
- 2 tablespoons Cognac
- 1/2 cup/75 g hazelnuts or pistachios, toasted (optional)
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 5-cup/1.25-liter oval earthenware terrine with a lid, electric or hand meat grinder
Line the terrine mold with the barding fat, reserving a piece for the top. Heat the oven to 350˚F/180˚C. Trim the pork, belly fat, veal, and chicken livers of membrane and any skin, and cut them into 1-inch/2.5-cm chunks. Chill all the meats in the freezer until quite firm but not frozen, 15 to 20 minutes.
While the meats are chilling, begin the filling. Melt the butter in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft but not brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Work the chilled meats through the coarse grid of the meat grinder into a large bowl. (Do not use a food processor or the terrine will be heavy.) Add the cooled onion, garlic, salt, pepper, quatre épices, and nutmeg to the meats and stir with a wooden spoon to mix thoroughly. Beat in the eggs and Cognac, and then mix in the nuts, if using. Sauté a nugget of the mixture and taste it. At this stage, it should be quite spicy, as it will mellow later. Adjust the seasoning of the mixture. Spread the mixture in the terrine mold and smooth the top. It should fill to the rim, as it will shrink during cooking. Cover the top with the reserved barding fat, trimming it to fit the mold. Put the bay leaf and thyme sprig on top and cover the terrine with the lid. If you like, make pâte à luter and use it to seal the mold.
Half fill a roasting pan with water for a water bath (see glossary) and bring the water to a boil on the stove top. Put the terrine in the roasting pan and bring the water back to a boil. Transfer the roasting pan to the oven and cook the pâté for 1 3/4 to 2 hours, refilling the bath with hot water if it evaporates rapidly. (If using a metal mold, the cooking time may be shorter.) Test if the pâté is done by inserting a skewer through the hole in the lid (if necessary, break the luting paste and lift the lid to test). The skewer should be hot to the touch when withdrawn after 30 seconds, or a thermometer should register 165˚F/74˚C.
Take the terrine from the water bath and let it cool to tepid. Remove the lid and set a 2-pound/900-g weight on top to compress the filling. A brick wrapped in plastic wrap is an ideal size for many terrines, or set a couple of cans on a piece of cardboard cut to size. Chill the terrine until cold and firm, about 12 hours. Remove the weight, cover the mold again with the lid, and store in the refrigerator for at least 3 days before serving.
Pâté de campagne may be served in the terrine, or unmolded and sliced. If serving in the mold, cut and remove the first piece so the slices are easier to lift out. Alternatively, unmold the pâté onto a platter, cut a few slices, and arrange them, overlapping, on the platter, with salad leaves around the edge. Leave the barding fat on the pâté slices, or discard it if you prefer. Pâté de campagne always tastes best at room temperature.