In the past, one of the best pâtés, I’ve had was the pâté Grandmere from Bar Boulud. It’s not as coarse as a pâté de campagne, or a smooth as a mousse…as Goldilocks would say “it’s just right!” So, the Locavore was happy to find a recipe for it in our Charcutepalooza textbook, Charcuterie, but since I rarely just blindly follow the rules, I thought I’d “kick it up a notch.” My idea was to switch out the chicken livers for duck, thanks to our friends at d’Artagnan, and add a center medallion of some fois gras, lurking in my fridge.
Once I had it conceptualized, I’d need some reliable tasters so my friends Zhu Zhu and BJ got an email (you may remember Zhu Zhu from the crème frâiche challenge) to see if they’d be willing to give it a shot. This was also a strategic move, as Zhu Zhu was raving about a new mustard he’d just discovered, a perfect foil for the pâté.
Maybe deciding to sauté the duck livers before breakfast wasn’t the best idea…besides having a grease splattered kitchen, the lingering aroma of liver somehow is not as enticing as bacon. However, it gave everything a chance to thoroughly chill before coming together.
After all the previous challenges, grinding the meats for the pâté was pretty easy. So easy, that when it was done, I ground some of the remaining pork shoulder and made my husband’s favorite, albondigas for dinner. Checked the mix for seasonings, and into a bain Marie (water bath — but doesn’t it sound better in French?) in the oven for about an hour. Pulled it out, weighted it down and it’s now ready for the tasting panel on Monday night.
First impression: there seemed to be a lot of fat in the terrine. Could it have broken in the cooking process? Or was it just that the fois gras inset melted? The taste and texture were good, not great. Some of the fois gras was lost and the texture of the terrine was a little crumbly. To me, it tasted strongly of liver and any taste of pork was drowned out by the liver flavor. With a little of Zhu Zhu’s new mustard and a cornichon or two, it was fine.
For the future, the duck livers seemed a little strong, so I would cut down on them and add more of the ground pork. A little more brandy or cognac and possibly some more assertive herbs or green peppercorns would have made this more interesting. In the past, my go-to pâté recipe has been the one from Julia Child’s The Way to Cook and it’s always been delicious.