Why the versatile pâté has never really caught on in the U.S. is a bit of a mystery to me. It comes in so many variations, differing from province to province, and even from village to village. Perhaps it is because the recipes for these tasty concoctions were usually carried by the memory of village housewives or handed down from mother to daughter.
Fortunately, recipes are now available, and are authentic. It is a perfect way to introduce a dinner for two or more, and when accompanied by a salad, French bread and cornichon pickles, makes a luncheon fit for the most discriminating guests. If you wish your pâté to be an extra fancy affair, making one “en croute” (in a crust); gives it an elegant posture.
Pâtés have particularly enjoyed a place of honor in the tradition of the ‘good stuff’ one has with wine.
The pâté recipe to follow is from Burgundy where Paul and I spent a few days tasting wines and pâtés from Dijon to Lyons.
For the bread crumbs my suggestion, is to take the center part of a loaf of French bread, break it up, and lightly toast it in a moderate oven (watch carefully to not burn it). I do not favor the commercial bread crumbs in pâtés.
PATE PETITE PRINCESS
1 1/4 pounds veal; coarsely ground
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 1/4 pounds fatty shoulder of pork; coarsely ground
1 medium yellow onion; finely chopped
2 large eggs
1 cup bread crumbs
4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
6 tablespoons brandy (1/2 cup)
1 thin slice back fat, large enough to line and top the loaf pan or terrine
1 laurel or bay leaf
Cooking time: 1 hr. 45 minutes at 350 degrees in two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 loaf pans. Serves 30 as an appetizer.
Have the butcher grind the various meats or do it yourself with a food processor. Chop the onion and garlic and put everything into a bowl. Add the eggs, bread crumbs, most of the salt and pepper, and brandy, and mix thoroughly. Line your pans or terrines with the thinly sliced back fat and spoon in the pâté mixture, pressing down to compact. Sprinkle the remaining salt and pepper on top and decorate with the laurel leaf. Place two strips of back fat crosswise on top of each pâté (or one large one). Cover with the lids or aluminum foil (make knife hole in foil for steam). Bake in hot water in preheated 350 degrees oven for 1 3/4 hrs. Remove from oven, weigh down with a plate and a large can (20 oz.) of food until cool. Clean off fat, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving, or wrap tightly and freeze after it cools.
A glass of red or rosé wine with a pâtés is a perfect marriage and a must.
P.S. Good mustards and cornichons are not to be forgotten!