Country Pâté (Terrine Paysanne)

Most French home cooks have their favorite tried-and-true recipe for pâté, a combination of ground or chopped meats, perhaps mixed with liver, herbs, and wine. After the ingredients are mixed together, they’re packed into a loaf pan or porcelain terrine (a traditional oval, covered dish) and baked in hot water so that the outside doesn’t form a browned exterior.

[Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/JacquesPALUT]
Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/JacquesPALUT

Weighting and chilling the cooked pâté makes it firm and easier to slice.

Pâté is usually served as an appetizer or light meal. Thinly slice it and serve with tomato slices, cornichons (tiny French dill pickles), tiny pickled onions, slices of country bread (characterized by a good chewy crumb and a crisp crust), and Dijon mustard.

Preparation time: Total of 24 hours (15 minutes actual preparation time, plus resting and overnight refrigeration)

Cooking time: 1-1⁄2 to 2 hours

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

1 pound ground pork

1 pound ground veal

1 pound smoked pork shoulder butt, cut into 1⁄4-inch dice

1 clove garlic, minced

6 juniper berries, chopped (optional)

1 teaspoon dried basil

1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme

1⁄2 teaspoon dried marjoram

1⁄2 teaspoon mace, nutmeg, or allspice

1⁄4 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1⁄2 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons brandy or cognac

6 to 8 strips lean bacon

2 large bay leaves

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground pork, veal, pork butt, garlic, juniper berries (if desired), basil, thyme, marjoram, mace, oregano, salt, and pepper with both hands until the mixture is well combined and uniform.

    Add the wine and brandy. Mix well until the liquids are incorporated.

  2. Line the bottom of a 6- to 7-cup loaf pan with 2 to 3 strips of the bacon.

    Spoon the pâté mixture into the pan. Pack down well so that there are no air pockets and the top is flat and smooth. Lay the bay leaves on top of the meat and pat down. Lay the remaining bacon strips on top of the pâté and refrigerate for 1 hour.

  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the terrine in a larger baking pan. Place in the lower third of the oven.

    Fill the baking pan with boiling water so that it comes halfway up the sides of the terrine. Bake for 1-1⁄2 to 2 hours. The pâté is done when it has shrunk from the sides of the pan and the surrounding liquid is clear yellow and not pink.

  4. Remove the terrine from the water bath. Pour off any liquid from the terrine. Leave the pâté in the pan.

    Place a piece of folded foil on top. Place an unopened bottle of wine or a medium-sized can on its side on top of the pâté and press down. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight. Remove and discard the bacon and bay leaves before serving.

  5. Cut into thin slices and serve on slices of country bread, toasted if desired, with Dijon mustard.

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