Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Paté. Mousse. Forcemeats.

I love me some charcuterie. Always have, ever since I was a bitty little thing, having my first bite of paté. In truth, it could have been liverwurst, since I first remember having that as a small child. I've this vague memory of being between 2 and 4 years old, sitting on the kitchen counter, and eating a liverwurst sandwich with pickles, mustard, and mayo. I don't remember what kind of bread the sandwich was made with, but I do remember wanting more liverwurst straight from the package. And to this day, if I'm buying liverwurst, it's the same one my mom bought - Oscar Mayer liverwurst. But back to paté. I love the stuff. And I love to cook. Even still, it took me a long while to make it.

I finally got around to making paté myself last year, but the recipe I used resulted in a heavy, rich product that I liked but couldn't finish. I vowed I wouldn't make paté again until I found a better recipe. Something similar to the Goose Mousse I get at Whole Foods. Lo and behold, I finally found a good recipe. It was the Chicken Liver Mousse recipe in The Girl and The Fig cookbook. Since I didn't want to make 4+ cups of mousse, and had a half pound of calf liver on hand already, I scaled-down the recipe and used the calf liver instead of chicken livers. This meant I had to tinker with the recipe a little more than I thought I'd have to, and the end result was what I'd consider a new recipe. It's very, very good.

Liver Paté

2 slices pancetta, chopped
1 tbs minced shallots
1 tbs chopped leeks
1/2 lb calf livers, chopped
1 egg
3 tbs heavy cream
1 tbs brandy
1 tbs ruby port
1 tbs chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
pinch pepper
pinch tsp nutmeg
1 tbs flour
3 tbs butter at room temp, plus one and a half sticks

preheat oven to 375 F

place bacon, shallots, leeks, and livers in a food processor and puree until smooth. Add the eggs, cream, brandy, port, parsley, ginger, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and blend thoroughly. Slowly work the flour in and continue to puree until there are no large pieces (I actually dumped all these ingredients into my blender instead - it was not as good as a food processor, but it did the job).
grease an ovenproof dish with 1 tbs of butter and fill dish with liver mixture. Cover with aluminum foil, place in a pan with water that reaches halfway to the top and put in the oven. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the center reaches 160 F on an instant read thermometer. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

In a blender or food processor, whip the remaining two tablespoons of butter into the mixture. Because this wasn't liquidy enough for my blender, I melted butter in half-stick increments and added that to the mix until I got thorough mixing. It turned out to be a stick and a half. Anyway, puree until smooth, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, and serve.

Also tastes good cold if you want to make it ahead of time for an event.

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