Technically I'm not sure if what I'm going to show you is a "pate" or a "terrine". The dish you use to cook it in is definitely called a terrine, but the thing I'm including a recipe for might be either. When I use the word pate people seem to know better what I'm talking about, although I have a feeling that technically it is a not a "pate".
Nonetheless, if you have never made a pate, it is actually really simple. In the same way that a hamburger is just a flat meatball and a meatball is just a small meatloaf, a pate is just another kind of meatloaf. It’s the "Cinderella meatloaf" as Michael Ruhlman calls it in Charcuterie. If you understand that then the formula is pretty simple: grind up your meats add some flavors put them in a loaf pan and bake it long and slow. Slice and eat.
Of course, being a French food, most pates have a couple extra steps (unless you make a "country style" terrine, then it is really just the same as a meatloaf).
For this recipe I wanted to do something a little bit fancier than "country style". It was for our annual Solstice dinner which is a formal sit down dinner party, and I wanted to put some extra effort into it. In order to learn about the subject I turned to my favorite cook book, Glorious French Food by James Peterson. I found chapter 5 on country style pork pate to be super helpful. There is not a recipe for a fine pork pate in this chapter, but if you use the info from the introductory essay, then take into consideration the cooking instructions from the country style recipe and the mixing instructions from the duck pate recipe, you can create your own recipe for pork pate.
Terrine of Pork with Blueberries and HazelnutsThere are 3 parts to this recipe--the fine forcemeat, the coarse forcemeat, and the garniture.
The Fine Forcemeat
The fine forcemeat is the paste that holds the whole thing together. It is also the bulk of the pate itself. If you've ever eaten Liverwurst, that is 100% fine forcemeat. I didn't want mine to taste like Liverwurst, but you get the idea for what the texture is like. After adjustments, the recipe I was using as guide called for about 8 oz. of liver meat. I had a full 2 lbs. liver so I ended up making 2.5 batches which was way more pate than I was planning on because, honestly, you can only eat so much pate before you start vomiting at the thought of one more smushy bite of it.
|The heart and liver of a pig. These make for great pate.
To begin I trimmed and pureed the liver in the Cuisinart. I wanted to keep it simple so I only used fresh crushed pepper and clove. Upon retrospect, a little nutmeg would have been good too. Also, I though the liver would be saltier than it was, so some salt might have been a good idea too. Two eggs and some chunks of back fat went in also. All of this I pureed in the Cuisinart. Then the recipe called for a little bit of milk-soaked bread to be folded in to lighten the paste.
The Coarse Forcemeat
When you slice into a terrine and see the cross section, many times you see large chunks of meat and other things. The largest of these is called the "garniture" but the middle sized stuff is the "coarse forcemeat". The coarse forcemeat is there to add texture and flavor. Usually it's some kind of related meat that may have been marinated to add some depth and complexity.
For the coarse forcemeat in my pate, I used the heart and some strips of shoulder meat. You may be asking why I didn't just include the heart in the fine forcemeat and be done with that slimy old thing. Well, the heart meat is chewier and leaner than most meats so I knew it would work well for texture. The thing I didn't want was big chunks of rubbery grossness in there so I carefully minced it very fine then marinated it in sherry overnight. I also minced some strips of shoulder meat and marinated them in Madeira overnight. I then added these in layers into the pate as I filled the terrine.
Garniture is the fun part of the pate. Its like the ornaments on the Christmas tree. It is the crunchy parts and the sweet parts and the eye-catching bits that make the pate seem exotic. The garniture plays a couple different roles--it not only has to taste good but it really is what makes the pate look good also. Without it, the thing would just be a big block of pureed meat. With it, the pate becomes colorful and intriguing.
For my garniture I shelled, chopped and roasted some hazelnuts. In one loaf I added dried blueberries and in the other I added dried cherries. The hazelnuts and blueberries (especially) were important flavors for me because I was trying to feature flavors from Sauvie Island. Every summer we come here to pick berries with the kids and buy groceries at the farms, including local nuts. Hazelnuts and blueberries both grow on the island (although I'm not certain about cherries). The garniture gets coarsely chopped and layered in with the course forcemeat.
Putting it together
|The terrine wrapped in bacon and ready for the oven.
In the end it turned out to be a pretty good pate. I don't do pates often so I'm sure there are ways I can refine this. But If you find yourself with a whole pig and all the liver that comes with it, pate is a great way to go.
|Terrine of Pork with Dried Cherries and Hazelnuts