Pâté de campagne

A not-so passé pâté

Originally appeared in the January 13, 2011 edition of the Southside Times.

So, here we are:  mid-winter, and the season is showing its icy teeth.  But I’m content with being sequestered indoors, fine-tuning any neglected categories in my culinary craft.  More after the jump:In cooking parlance, pâtés fall under the category, charcuterie—pronounced “shar-koo-tuh-ree.”  Considered by gastronomes as a delectable art in French kitchens, charcuterie (which roughly translates to “cooked meat”) is the meticulous medium of pork butchery, but and also includes other preparations:  cured meat, fresh- and smoked-sausage, blood puddings, and hams (to name a few).  The craft of charcuterie goes back to (at least) classical Rome, and pâtés have been revered by connoisseurs for centuries.  In his Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine (1873), novelist and gourmand Alexandre Dumas identified over a dozen types of pâtés, each with numerous variations.

And if you’re harboring some skepticism about either making or sampling your own homemade pâté, read what Craig Claiborne wrote in The New York Times Food Encyclopedia:  “Almost any expert and discerning cook can vouch for the fact that a pâté is nothing more than a well-made meatloaf.”

Give this one a try.  It’s another recipe in your culinary repertoire, another technique added to your craft.

Pâté de campagne

Yields 20 servings

  • ¾ cup cognac
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 2 ½ pounds ground pork
  • 8 – 10 slices bacon, fine chop
  • 12 – 14 slices whole bacon (for lining)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 ½ teaspoons allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

1.  Preheat oven 400° F.  Arrange a rack in the middle.  Bring a generous amount of water to a boil.  In a small saucepan, boil cognac until reduced by half; remove from heat.  Meanwhile, melt butter in a sauté pan; add onion and sauté until soft; add garlic and cook briefly; remove from heat.  In a large bowl, combine ground pork and chopped bacon, mixing thoroughly.  Add sautéed onion, garlic, and dry seasonings.  Add eggs, cream, and reduced cognac.  Mix well.

2.  Line a 9″×5″×3″ loaf pan with bacon slices, overlapping to create a shingle effect.  Lightly press the pâté mixture into bacon-lined loaf pan.  Fold bacon slices over, covering pâté.  Cover pan with foil and place in a larger baking pan.  Pour boiling water in baking pan until water comes halfway up sides of pâté-filled pan.  Bake until thermometer inserted in the center registers 155° F (about 2 hours, 15 minutes).  Remove pâté from oven and place weight (soup cans, small saucepan) on top of pâté.  Chill overnight (can be prepared and held 4 days ahead).  Serve with desired accompaniments:  coarse sea salt, cornichons, Dijon mustard, and crusty baguette.

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