Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Pate de campagne

I've always wanted to have a go at making a real pate de campagne - or french rustic pate if you prefer - but I've always shied away from it, having a sneaky suspicion that it wasn't as easy as making a quick mackerel or chicken liver one. In fact all the different types of pork, the volumes of fat and the offal all seemed rather daunting so I just left it to the little man at the local deli.                      

 (FYI he's not that little it's just my way of talking)

However, just before Christmas I girded my loins and decided that I could do this - so I grabbed every cookbook I had with anything resembling a pate recipe and had a good read before deciding on the flavours we liked and the types of meat we wanted in it.

Having been a little squeamish over some of the 'wobbly' bits we've found in pates and sausages on our travels in France over the year - I swear one slice of sausage did wink at me once! - I decided to err on the side of caution and just use liver, smoked bacon, belly pork and some extra fatty belly pork lardons as well.

Because we love the taste of green peppercorns, I also add loads for the main flavouring - not liking the idea of nuts or dried fruit in a pate.

So here's what I did and it really wasn't that hard at all. The worst bit was cleaning ground liver out of my fingernails - but the less said of that the better.......

300g Smoked bacon - rind free save 2 for the top
150g Smoked fatty lardons
500g Belly pork - the fatty the better
250g calves liver - couldn't get pig at the butchers but this was fine.
2 small white onions - diced
2 cloves garlic - crushed
2 eggs
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp herb De Provence
half tsp ground cloves
half tsp ground ginger
half tsp grated nutmeg
70g green peppercorns (dried weight) drained from the brine
3 or 4 fresh bay leaves
salt & freshly ground black pepper

Lard or goose fat to grease the tin
1 loaf tin - heavily smeared with the goose grease or lard.

pre-heat the oven to 160C/gas 3

First off weigh out your meats - don't worry about exact measure - just aim to get it roughly right - and roughly chop it all up into chunks. Saving a couple of rashers for the top...

Now, Andrew had gone out to do whatever it is men do on a cold, wet, wintry Saturday morning - I think it was to buy some windscreen wipers!              ....... wooo .... exciting!!......

Which turned out to be a good thing - no witnesses to my rather messy start! I had decided that I was going to be 'proper rustic' and make it all by hand so I routed around the back of the bottom kitchen draw and got out my grannies mincer, gave it all a good clean & sterilise, and set it all up.

20 minutes later I had a sticky gummed up mincer and about an inch of minced liver - most of it under my finger nails and a bit in my hair! so on reflection I decided to get out the food processor and bung it all in there......

2 minutes later I had it all mince how I wanted & I was ready to continue ...... 

You want your meat minced to a chunky consistency - don't over chop or you'll end up with a smooth pate.....

add all your chopped onion, garlic, herbs, spices, peppercorns and seasoning - give it all a good mix in - use your hands its easier.....way to late to be squeamish with this dish....

and then add your eggs - both of these came out of the same box, and I think the same chicken, so don't ask me why they are different colours.

Mix them in well - hands again......

Now spoon your pate mix into your loaf tin & press it down well - you don't want air pockets - lay your bacon over the top and decorate with the bay leaves and a few peppercorns if you wish.

double wrap the top with tin foil - seal well. Place in a deep baking tray with 2 cups of water in the bottom to help keep it all moist.

Bake in your preheated oven for about an hour and a half. After about an hour check it and if you would like a browned top remove the foil and pop back in.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 30 minutes......

the pate should start to shrink away from the sides of the tin.....

Now cover with foil again and grab something to weigh down the top to compress it for another hour as it cools completely. I used another loaf tin with a couple of lb measuring weighs but you could use bags of salt or sugar - what ever you have to hand......

It's easier to remove the pate whilst it's still slightly warm so after weighing down for an hour turn it out and it's ready to eat.

You can keep it chilled in the fridge for up to a week or, as I have done, slice it into to good size portions, cover and freeze. Make sure it's defrosted completely before eating. I take it out the night before and let it defrost in the fridge so it's ready for lunch times.


So with a good burgundy, a crusty white loaf and this pate I'm all set to recreate those long relaxed summer lunches in France - I'll just have to turn up the heating to get the right temperature........

Have a great day