Thursday, March 11, 2010


Before sausage, but in the same sort of category (as Brett of Trout Caviar points out in comments a bit earlier) we recently experimented with country style pate. For a dinner with friends we ended up trying three different variations. As a basis, we looked to the pigeon pate recipe from The River Cottage Meat Book.

The first version consisted of duck and goose hearts and gizzards, along with the breast meat off of a teal that was a bit shot up. This pate was flavored with dewberry jelly, white and black pepper, garlic, bay, and red wine.

The next was made with half of the breast off of a Canada goose (also a bit too pellet-riddled to be suitable for roasting or other treatment). It was flavored with juniper, garlic, bay, and port.

and the last was made with the meat of a slightly freezer-burned grouse. The grouse was flavored with apple jelly, thyme, bay, a bit of cayenne, cardamom, black pepper, and Calvados.

The mis:

We have a local source for good bacon, which they'll kindly slice very thin. You stretch those slices out even more thin, then line your mold with them.

Duck and goose bits:

You sauté an onion, brown the meat in the remaining bit of fat, then deglaze the pan with your choice of alcohol and pour the liquid over the meat, which you then grind (along with the onion) and mix with the jelly and spices. For fat in the pate, we ground our meat with some raw pork belly.

Once packed in the molds, you cover your pate with buttered parchment paper then bake them in a water bath in a slow oven.

Once done, the top of the bacon (which becomes the bottom of the pate) is nicely brown from the butter, while the remainder is quite white due to the water bath. You aren't done, though, as you leave the covers on, weight the pates, then let them chill for a day.

The process was a bit of work and somewhat time consuming, but not really that bad, particularly given how long a pate lasts and their suitability for freezing.

Final presentation. The grouse turned out to be a bit crumbly. The very dry meat of that bird needed more liquid than we had put in. A bit more highly spiced, it was an initial favorite with the tasters. All were good, though, and I think this may be the very best use for waterfowl gizzards and hearts.


Trout Caviar said...

You've had quite a winter in the kitchen! Nice post, and thanks for more inspiration. A good paté is a total delight, and not easy to accomplish, and I applaud your spirit of experimentation. I haven't had the Le Creuset terrine out for some time, but I think I'll pull it out this week and see what I can whip up.

Cheers~ Brett

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook said...

Nice experiments! Can't imagine ever having enough grouse to make a pate from, though.

A few suggestions: Skip the bacon - not needed, and cold, uncooked bacon is no fun to eat. Wet the pans and then line them with plastic wrap instead. Fold the wrap over the top of the pate and then cover and cook in a bain marie.

Brandy. Lots of brandy. I use 1 cup in a pate of that size, reduced by half in the pan you cooked the onions and garlic in.

Don't cook the meat first, and add curing salt if you have it. Makes a gorgeous pink pate. If you really want browned meat flavors, sear hard a duck breast or something and lay it in the center of the mold, as what the pros call "an interior garnish." Looks pretty cool.

Sorry for rambling, but I am making a wild duck terrine tonight for a weekend dinner party so they are on my mind...


mdmnm said...


Thanks! Not a patch on the Trout Caviar recipes/posts.

Thanks for the suggestions. Not uncooked bacon, though, it spent an hour and a bit in the water bath. The texture was fine, the color less appealing. I've got pink salt for making sausage and curing bacon.

A said...

It really has been a great winter for cooking and experimentation; this was one of my favorite projects. Just so you know, after we figured out the basic process we turned to the Flavor Bible (Page & Dornenburg) to work out the seasonings for each pâté. That book is indispensable and helped us figure out the best way to show off the different meats. For the most part, the seasonings worked. The one ingredient worth reconsidering is the cardamom; there was an unexpected sharp note that did a very slight disservice to the grouse pâté, not enough to be off-putting, just not something to repeat.

Mike Spies said...


I have made many terrines of canvasback with pork, port, or cognac -- and I find that doing the terrine 'en croute' and using a clarified reduction (flavored with port) from the carcass and pork bones to fill and jell in the air spaces inside the crust works well.

A slice of pate/terrine is a wonderful lunch with artisan bread and a tossed salad. What they call a 'plowman's board' in English country pubs.

mdmnm said...

En croute is a step up in complexity that I haven't attempted yet. Thanks for the tips! I found a package of duck hearts and gizzards in the freezer the other day that I hadn't recalled putting away and was pretty excited at the prospect of another duck pate- it really is a great way to use those bits.