August 15, 2011

We’ve just returned from a few fantastic days spent floating down the Rhine river valley, and traveling the Routes des Vins d’Alsace. I peered into every charcuterie shop, checked out every butcher. Oh, don’t worry. I did not overlook the vegetables. Or the cheeses. Or pastries.

I stopped at markets and chatted up the people selling meats under cheerful red umbrellas. Struck up conversations. Snacked on picnic sized saussicon sec. I wanted to experience it all. The pride in their art is evident in every bite.

Look at those pretty pastry covered patés. That’s when the inspiration struck for this month’s challenge.

The Apprentice Challenge: Paté Campagne OR Paté Gratinée (ex: Pork Terrine with Pork Tenderloin Inlay)

The Charcutiere Challenge: Paté Gratinée en Croute OR English Pork Pie

Post on the 15th. Tag your post charcutepalooza and we’ll be sure to see it. Share your blog post with Punk Domestics. Cross post and upload photos on Charcutepalooza’s Facebook page and Flickr page. And don’t forget to share all those great original recipes on Food52.


Is any charcuterie platter complete without a paté? So many to choose from and so much to consider. All pork? Pork with veal, or perhaps, rabbit? Surprise inlays nestled inside.

The texture, from the rough and tumble paté campagne, the elegance of a paté gratinée – smooth, wine-spiked terrine formed around a seared meat; or, the drama of paté en croute.

The moment of any paté’s unmolding can only be enhanced in one way. With clever pastry wraps and decorations. Here is the opportunity to show us your stuff. Get flashy with pastry cut outs.

Make a flaky crust using good lard. Render it yourself, if you can.

My pies always have stars.

Your biggest challenge in making a paté is packing it into the terrine. It must be packed tight, with no air in the mix, or it will dry out. Pastry or not.

Then, after your patés sit in the refrigerator and develop their flavors, invite some people over. A few people. Have a meat party. Consider the cocktails carefully. I recommend a French G&T, with Hendricks Gin, St. Germaine and lime.

Get out the pickles. Paté wants pickles. And mustards.

(If you are very lucky, you will have a couple of art directors in the house. And your photos might look a little better than usual. Thank you, Paul, Elaine, Bill, Gabby, Gilles.)

Paté Campagne

Perhaps now, after eight months of challenges, you have collected a container of pieces of pork in the freezer. Maybe there is a hunk of bacon somewhere? Bits and pieces of this and that will make for a great paté.

As always, keep your bowls, grinding parts, terrines and meats super cold. Use the medium disk, not the smallest, and not the largest. If you only have two disks, choose the larger one. The texture of this paté is coarse.

The goodies you stir in can be anything, but do include some fatty smoked or cured meat. It will ensure the pate is unctuous enough to hold together. I love to include dried fruit, in this case, gorgeous Agen prunes from Kate Hill.

Once the pan is out of the oven, weight the paté with a can or two, and let it rest in the refrigerator for a couple of days. This is when the flavors really develop, so don’t be afraid to let it sit for four or five days. You must eat it all within a week, though, as patés do not freeze well.

Warm the outside of the mold to release the pate.


Paté Campagne
 with Gascony on my Mind
One small terrine

1 T butter
1 T minced garlic
2 T minced shallots
1/4 c minced onion
1 T fresh thyme leaves
1/4 c Armagnac
1 lb. pork shoulder, cubed (or, this is a great way to use leftover bits and pieces)
1 bay leaves
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp coarsely ground pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 lb. pancetta or ventreche, diced
8 large, moist, pitted prunes

Mix the pork with the bay leaves and allspice, salt and pepper. Allow to rest in the refrigerator an hour, or overnight.
Remove the bay leaves and place the pork in the freezer for 90 minutes.
In a sauté pan, heat the butter and when the foam subsides, add the garlic, shallot, onion and thyme. Cook gently until everything is wilted.
Add the Armagnac, flame it, and then reduce by half. Let this mixture cool.
Grind the semi-frozen meat into the bowl of your electric mixer, resting in a bowl of ice.
Set the bowl into the mixer with the paddle attachment, add the onion mixture, and mix well.
Test a little of the mixture for seasoning. Remember that foods served cold need more aggressive seasoning.
Stir in the prunes and pancetta/ventreche.
Pack the mixture into the chilled terrine. It must be packed tight, or it won’t set well. I was taught to make small walnut-sized amounts and throw them into the terrine. With vigor! This will get the air out of the mixture.
Use your best judgement about throwing meat mixtures, but pack the terrine well.
Top with parchment and then with foil.
Place the terrine in a bain marie and bake at 350° until it is cooked all the way through, and a thermometer registers 170°, about two hours.
Let it cool completely, then place a three pound weight on the parchment paper and weigh it down. Store in the refrigerator for one to two days before serving.
Unmold by dipping the terrine in hot water to loosen the pate, which should come out smoothly in one piece.

Paté Gratinée

It seemed appropriate to carefully read Julia Childs MtAoFC on patés and especially the “en croute” part of the equation. I encourage you to do the same. Julia has some amazing ideas about patés with inlays.

The pork terrine in Charcuterie is exquisite. It’s light and rich at the same time. We had no Madiera, so substituted Port. I also substituted my own Paté Spice, and encourage you to tinker with a mix to find a combination that’s just right for you.

We did not use the pink salt, thus the dark color.

Perhaps you’re feeling flush this month – you could put foie gras in the center. Or veal strips marinated in cognac. But whatever you decide to put there must be seared. And the better the sear, the better the flavor that infuses the paté as it rests.

Paté en Croute

If you’re going for the Charcutiere challenge, you’ll need to make pastry. And then make a pate gratinée. Do not feel obligated to use a terrine form as in the book. I saw many free form patés en croute when I was travelling. Just make sure your pastry is amazing.

I could only make one pate en croute, so opted for the English Pork Pie, which I highly recommend. The crust, made with lard, is fantastic – flaky and satisfying and reasonably easy to work with. Naturally, I decorated with stars. It’s sort of my signature.

The meat mixture is distinctly different than the French patés, making it a nice second course for the Meat party – after the paté course, naturally.

The English pork pie got the best of me in one respect. There should have been a space between the meat and pastry, once baked, in which to pour an aspic layer. I had no space at the top in which to pour the aspic, instead there was a space just inside the pastry ringing the bottom, with no way to get the aspic in there.

I ended up making a sheet pan of aspic (demi-glace of roasted veal, chicken stock, and sheet gelatin), then cutting little stars, to mirror the stars on the pie. They were tasty enough, but unnecessary, in my opinion.

I think we were all surprised at how delicious the pork pie was. It was visually striking, but we were a bit suspicious. Lo and behold, it’s terrific. Not at all the meatloaf I feared.

So go for it. Form a paté and put it in pastry, or not, as you wish.

Spreading the Word

We’ve been making beautiful meats together for months now. Hasn’t it made you appreciate even more what others are doing?

While we are seeing an artisanal food explosion in the US, there could be so much more. That’s why I’ve been following the Good Food Awards since last year’s stellar selections. It’s their second year, and you’re the perfect people to ask – do you know someone who is making food for sale – perhaps at your farm market? A shop in your town?

The Good Food Awards are looking for nominations for products being produced in an environmentally and socially responsible way. Between now and September 1st, food producers can submit their artisanal beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, pickles and preserves for a blind tasting. You must have your favorite producers in your area? Let them know about these awards. Last year’s winners had great things happen. Find out more.

Tasting the foods of different regions is certainly one of my favorite things about European travel. To learn to make it? That’s heaven. Next winter, when it’s gray and gloomy, you could travel the Adriatic coast of Italy with Sean Timberlake, the original Punk Domestic, as guide and host. And learn to make salume with one of the great norcino. Sign up, and do it soon, before they’re all sold out.

Charcutepalooza loves our sponsors. D’Artagnan , generously offering 25% off the meat-of-the-month. If you aren’t receiving your email with the secret code for Charcutepalooza members, register here. And the trip to France – an awesome grand prize deliciously designed by Trufflepig and Kate Hill at Camont. Love to Kinetic Web Solutions and @CreativCulinary who helps us navigate technology. And, Armagnac CASTAREDE, providing celebratory Armagnac to our Grand Prize winner’s party in Paris.

33 Responses to “september challenge. packing.”

  1. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite

    SO EXCITING!! Was JUST drooling over pâté en croûte in Lafayette Gourmet on Saturday. And, of course, for the past 7 weeks every time I passed a butcher’s! Was happy to share some of your trip with you 🙂

  2. kate hill

    With a nod from Gascony, we send everyone kilos of pate love- en croute, en terrine, with rabbit, wild boar & designer pigs, with Pruneaux d’Agen and Armagnac, with red wine, white wine and even pink. Think! Pate and pastry are made for harvest pique-niques and gatherings with old friends and new. New wine and old brandies. Inspired!

  3. Christine

    Such a great post! I am going to try your Pate de Campagne for sure. Thanks for sharing and giving clear explanations. For sure les Alsaciens know how to enjoy food! Looking forward to more posts on your trip in France (my beautiful home country).

    • Cathy

      Thank you, Ken. Let’s go to France! We can eat pate and dessert. What else is needed?

  4. Linda Langness

    I just knew it would be some kind of paté or even galantine. And I knew that trip to France would bring some wonderful ideas. You are the best! I love patés but I’ve never made one “en croute” so I’m very inspired. Both your Gascony inspired Paté de Campagne and the English Pork Pie look so yummy I can almost taste both of them. I am so excited.

    These past eight months have been so much fun. Usually only Europe and the Railway Deli in Canmore, Alberta (owned and run by two Austrians) make me this excited about charcuterie. But now I am surrounded by a community of creative and dedicated people who are just as interested in charcuterie. And what wonderful ideas, recipes, and inspiration everyone has provided. Thanks Cathy and Kim.

  5. Brook - LearnToPreserve

    Another wonderful blog post.

    I’ve been wanting to go to France for-ever. Thank you for inspiring me to make that dream a reality. In the meantime, I’ll have to settle for making my own charcuterie. Your photos (and recipe) are making me sooo hungry.

    Our “foodcentric” book club is reading “As Always, Julia” this month and each person is asked to bring a dish inspired by the book (or author) we are currently reading. I think Pate` en Croute will be my contribution!

  6. Lindsay Homewood

    This was the first month that I have participated in this great exercise. I made both trotters and head cheese. I had only expected to make the one perfect milk feed duroc pork trotter. It was deliciously seasoned with fennel seed, coriander, bay leaf, garlic, and black pepper. I braised it all night even setting my alarm for 4:30 am to check it. By 8:00 am it was a gorgeous gooey gelatinous lump, ready to have all those bothersome little toe bones removed by gentle prodding. Then it was time to roll it up!! I must mention on this note that having become accustomed to the 18inch industrial rolls of plastic film and a large stainless work table gave me a bit of a handicap. Never the less I overcame the challenge of a cardboard box of home use plastic wrap and my boyfriends tiled kitchen table. In to the fridge to chill. It set beautifully and was enjoyed both on a salad with a white nectarine vinaigrette, with some pickled red onions and cherry tomatoes, as well as on a sandwich with whole grain mustard, yellow tomato, and horseradish mayo.
    It was a few days later that I was the gracious recipient of a wild pig head. Procured by a friend of ours from his northern California property. It was a great surprise and just in time to make head cheese for this months subject. This was going to be a first but I was very excited. Since it was a wild pig there were a few parts of the process that needed to be modified, and that proved to be good teaching moments for future wild pig head cheese making. The fist of these is dealing with the copious thick black bristles and hair that we often forget that pigs have when we buy there nice smooth blanched parts from the butcher. The second was not being able to use one of my most favorite bits, the ears. This little sow had gotten in to some sort of tussle leaving her with a rather badly scared ear on one side and again the daunting bristles were more than I was aptly prepared to deal with. So it was with out the skin of the head that this was prepared.
    The skull cooked for about 10 hours in a pot seasoned with, foraged California bay laurel, coriander, fennel seed, juniper berries, clove, black pepper, fresh garlic, and a healthy pinch of Mendocino sea salt. I had cut most of the flesh off and blanched it separately including the tongue and snout (I left whole for garnish) the rest I diced. The garnish was then added back to the cooking liquid and cooked till tender aprox 3 hours more. Just before molding I added some bitters, and steeped some fresh herbs in to the warm “aspic”. At molding time I spread the diced garnish in to the bottom of two 9th pans lined with plastic. In one I placed the poached tongue. The warm aspic was poured over till all the garnish was covered. Carefully the snout was placed on top of the one with the tongue inset. We let it set for a day and VOILA!! Northern California wild pig head cheese.
    It is rich and delicious the aspic is a translucent mahogany with the bright bits of garnish well dispersed and a beautiful circle of tongue in the center. It is currently being enjoyed sliced on toast with a 50/50 whole grain, Dijon mix.
    I will try and put some of the pictures on the FB page.

  7. Barbara | Creative Culinary

    This is beautiful Cathy; I’ve been a bit slammed with the addition of yard work to the mix so haven’t been charcutepaloozing much this summer, but am now VERY tempted.

    Your trip sounds divine…ahh, maybe I mean tres bien!

    • Cathy

      I know you can make a prettier pastry rendition than I did! C’mon Barb, join the paté parade!

  8. Sally

    Cathy, This really takes me back! I worked in/ran a restaurant in the Catskills years ago and our closest neighbor was a French chef. Once he retired, he used to come to our kitchen and (mostly) chastise us, but he also took the time time to show us quite a few regional French dishes. One of my favorites was his pork liver pate. It was very simple: pork liver which we obtained from a specialty store in Saugerties NY that was run by a German family that really understood pork. We ground it with pork fat and mixed it with eggs, cream, brandy and allspice. We lined and topped the pan with caul fat. I have the recipe somewhere…but I’m pretty sure that was all we did. After we baked it in a water bath and cooled it slightly, we topped the (glass) loaf pans with boards that we cut to fit on top. Then we weighted them with cans or bricks. The fat completely enclosed the pate, so it kept for a long time–though it was a standard offering on our menu, with cornichons of course, so we never had to store it for very long. I’m not sure I have had anything so good in a long time. It sounds as if you had some great tasting experiences this summer–how wonderful!

  9. Domenica

    You are such an inspiration in the kitchen, Cathy. Nancy (@cuisinette) and I fell off the charcutepalooza wagon awhile ago, but we are itching to climb back on. Pate might just do it for us. The one with the foie gras center looks out of this world. Your trip sounds like a dream vacation.

    • Cathy

      Yes, it is. Paul’s contribution. I just have two small ceramic terrines and sometimes I wonder if they weren’t actually for potted plants. I found them at a yard sale. They make great terrine molds!

  10. Elyse

    My mother used to make the most wonderful country pates, with Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Jacques Pepin books open on the kitchen counter. Her Cumberland Sauce was wonderful. Good memories!

    • Cathy

      Elyse, we must be the same vintage. My mother, too, used to make paté w/Julia at her side. I have an early memory of caul fat and brick covered terrines resting in the refrigerator. Now, I feel I must make some Cumberland sauce. xo



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