Thursday, September 15, 2011

Charcutepalooza Project #9

The Wrath of Pate

Last month, the project was "Binding." I misread the challenge and made something out of the same chapter and the cummy pate should have been more of a mousseline. My bad. This month's challenge was to make a pate. Whoops. I took the mistake as an opportunity to try again. Since I really didn't like the flavor components of the first pate, I decided to look for a different recipe. I went through all the cookbooks I have and read some more recipes online. For my second attempt at pate, I decided to follow Jacques Pepin's recipe in La Technique. For those of you keeping score at home, Pate Maison is Technique 112 which includes flashbacks to earlier techniques including 2, 23 and 39 (garlic prep, preparing lard leaves, and aspic). If you haven't had the chance to flip through La Technique, it is a pretty cool read.

Making the aspic and pate were going on at the same time. When I make chicken stock in the crock pot, I usually plug it in in the garage or on the deck. I usually end up making it at night and my wife doesn't like the smell when she is going to bed. If it is being made on the stove or in the oven, I just have her close the door and she's a little out of luck. Sorry. This time, when I was at the Asian Market on Central to get pork liver (I haven't seen it anywhere else in Albany) there were packages of chicken feet. Really cheap. I put the feet in the crockpot, covered them with water and set it on high when I came home from work (about 5:15). A little while later I added a few carrots, some celery and an onion.

Next up was thinly slicing fatback to line a loaf pan. That didn't go so well. The knives are getting sharpened soon. I hadn't realized how dull they were. I didn't have a large piece of fatback so I cut lots of small pieces and lined the pan. I also cut extra to place on top. Once that was in the fridge, the pate was put on hold for tooth brushing and stories.

I tried to get a mise together and counter space was a little lacking because the kitchen has been permanently trashed for about 2 months. Spices when into a coffee grinder for a whirl. It worked pretty well.

I weighed out the pork, fat (yes there is more fat), and liver. I minced the pork in a food processor. The minced the fat but it was still a little frozen and didn't mince as well as I had hoped. The liver gets liquified next. All of this meat handling made pictures a little hard to snap. So here is everything - pork, pork fat, liver, egg, wine, garlic, shallot and spices (bay, thyme, pepper and salt) - all mushed together.

And covered with some more fat in the loaf pan.

 The loaf gets covered with foil and the roasting pan gets filled with water. Then into the oven it goes.

A little while before the pate came out of the oven, I took the stock out of the crock pot. It looked and smelled good. The feet were a little weird to look at.

The idea is that you pour some of the aspic (gelled stock) into the loaf pan. The fat floats out over the side and gets replaces with aspic that gels when cooled. It was a good theory, but didn't actually work. I think some of the problem was that the fat back lining the pan was cut too thick.

It all went in the fridge to chill for a a day or two. And the results...a significant improvement of the first effort but not quite there yet. Next time I'd run the fat through the grinder instead of the food processor. I had never chopped meat in the processor and I'd try to get the pork a little coarser. But the flavor is there. Kids didn't like, but what do they know anyhow?

And the rest of the aspic/stock is in the freezer for future sauces and stews. I used a cup of it as a sauce for some cavatelli with sausage and broccoli last night. Check out the level of gelatin.


  1. Good post, I'm a chicken liver pate kind of guy myself but I'll have to try pork sometime. FYI: The Delaware Ave Price Chopper usually has pork liver, as well as other other goodies like pige's feet, hocks, and sliced marrow bones. Once in a while you can find pig's tails and ears there too.

  2. I will have to check out that Price Chopper. Thanks for the tip. In the quest for pork liver I went to Roma's Fresh Market, Latham Price Chopper And Hannaford, Westgate area Price Chopper and Hannaford and the Honest Weight Co-op before finding it at the Asian Market on Central.

  3. Funny story - I've seen Save-A-Lot sell chicken feet as "Chicken Paws". How cute is that? Maybe also a little disturbing, but still... pretty cute.

  4. I like chicken paws. That should be the new name.