Rustic Country Pates with Pork, Veal and Venison

We quote David Tanis, a cookbook author who is head chef at Chez Panisse in Berkeley six months of the year, spending the remaining six months in Paris where he cooks and entertains out of a tiny galley kitchen:  “… you’ll find that I have a lot to say about dishes that call for that elusive ingredient, time.  I ask you to get your hands in the dough and to cultivate patience.  Mesmerized by television shows hyping the thirty-minute meal and the blood sport of competitive cooking, we have somehow forgotten the pleasure of giving ourselves over to the true kitchen experience.  This doesn’t mean spending hours and hours in the kitchen.  It’s not more difficult cooking, but a different way of engaging with food.  What matters most is the joy that makes you part of a cooking continuum from beginning to end.  It becomes a real journey…  The 30-minute meal ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Slinging dinner on the table may feed us, but such hurried gestures often bypass the pleasure that real cooking offers.  Spending a day in the kitchen can be amazingly rewarding – the reward is the mellowness of flavor and texture that results when certain dishes are given the luxury of improving over time.”

This has been our personal philosophy from the days when both of us were first introduced to the mysteries of the kitchen as children, our moms scurrying about in their aprons, stirring fragrant kettles on the stove with loving hands, kneading bread and smiling with satisfaction when the dough felt “just right”.  It’s all about time and patience… and pleasure.  This is why we began writing 5 Stars in Your Kitchen.  Our love affair with food runs deep and the pleasure that we enjoy in the kitchen simply must be shared with those who are like  minded… or want to be!

Time is, without a doubt, one of the essential ingredients in the following two pâtés.  There is actually not a lot of hands-on time involved in either recipe.  There is, however, significant resting time for both to allow flavors to develop and meld together.  Both of the pâtés contain venison, several pounds given to us by friends who are hunters, as well as ground veal and ground pork shoulder.  Venison, however, isn’t essential and can be substituted by a number of other meats such as duck or rabbit.  In fact, you can creatively combine the base ingredients according to what is available to you at your local markets.  When using pork we highly recommend pork shoulder, a cut that is well-marbled, an essential ingredient to a flavorful and moist pâté.  If the other meats are exceptionally lean we’ve found it beneficial to grind a bit of fatback and add it to the mix.  Ask your butcher for a half pound of fatback… he will be happy to oblige!  Both of these pâtés also use pureed chicken livers as a binder to prevent the finished loaf from falling apart when sliced.  Spirits are also commonly used for flavoring, particularly brandy or cognac.  The two pâtés featured here make use of gin in one and tawny port in the other… both delicious!  As you can see, one is limited only by one’s imagination when it comes to making a truly fine pâté!  The following recipes each make two beautiful loafs.  Bake and enjoy one after allowing it to rest in the refrigerator for a day or two before slicing to allow the flavors to meld and fully develop.  Wrap the second in film and a double layer of foil while still unbaked and place in the freezer for enjoyment at a later date.  Allow it to defrost overnight and come to room temp before baking.

Country Venison Pâté

Slice into strips:

  • 1-1/2 – 2 lb venison tenderloin

Place in a shallow dish and add:

  • 1/2 C gin
  • 24 juniper berries, crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns, cracked in a mortar and pestle
  • 3 – 4 fresh bay leaves, cut in half

 

Transfer to a zippered plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.  Freeze overnight:

  • 1/2 lb fatback, cut into strips

Grind through the coarse grinding plate of a food grinder:

Return the ground fatback to the freezer until firm.  In the meantime grind:

  • 2 lb pork shoulder, cut into chunks
  • 1-1/2 lb venison, cut into chunks
  • 12 whole peeled garlic cloves

Transfer the ground meats to the refrigerator until well-chilled.  When the fatback is firm, mix together:

  • the ground meats
  • the frozen fatback
  • 2 lb ground veal
  • 1 C chicken livers, trimmed and pureed till smooth (approximately  8 – 10 oz)
  • 3  T fresh rosemary, stripped and minced
  • 2 – 3 T fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • 2 T ground allspice
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns, cracked
  • 1/2 C pistachios, whole
  • kosher salt, to taste

Mix well, cover and refrigerate overnight.  Preheat the oven to 350°.  Remove the meat mixture and the marinated venison strips from the refrigerator.  Set the venison strips aside and pour the remaining liquid into the chilled meats.  Mix well.  Before filling the pans fry up a bit of the mixture to test for seasoning.  Adjust as necessary, remembering that this is the final time you will be able to do so!

Line two hinged pâté or loaf pans with:

  • 2 lb bacon (each pan will require 1 lb for adequate coverage)

Fill each pan 1/3 full, then add one or two venison strips, pressing them into the meat mixture. Add more seasoned meat, then addition strips of marinated venison:

 

Top with the remaining seasoned mixture, fold the bacon over the top, add additional strips of bacon lengthwise, then add several fresh bay leaves which will contribute additional flavor while baking:

 

Bake in the preheated 350º oven until the internal temperature reads 160º.

Weight and press until the pâté reaches room temperature:

 

Wrap pan in film and foil and refrigerate until service.

 

Rustic 3-Meat Pâté

The base ingredients of this pâté are the same as the previous one.  The seasonings, however, are quite different and tawny port is used as the spirit of choice, giving this delicious pâté a character all its own!  This recipe also makes two pâtés.

Slice into strips:

  • 1 lb venison tenderloin

Place in a shallow dish and add:

  • 1 tsp black peppercorns, cracked
  • 1/2 C tawny port
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 3 – 4 fresh bay leaves, cut in half

Transfer to a zippered plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.  Freeze overnight:

  • 1/2 lb fatback, cut into strips

Cut into 2-inch cubes and place in a medium-sized bowl:

  • 2 lb pork shoulder

Add:

  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • splash extra virgin olive oil
  • splash red wine vinegar

Mix well, cover with film and refrigerate overnight. 

Grind the frozen fatback through the coarse grinding plate of a food grinder and return it to the freezer until firm.  In the meantime,  remove the marinated venison strips from the refrigerator.  Transfer the venison to a separate plate, discard the bay leaves and reserve the marinade.  Drain the marinated pork shoulder through a sieve or collander, reserving the liquid.  Using the same coarse grinding plate, grind:

  • the seasoned pork shoulder
  • 12 whole peeled garlic cloves

Transfer the ground pork to the refrigerator until well-chilled. To the ground pork shoulder add:

  • 1-1/2 lb ground veal
  • the frozen fatback
  • 1 C chicken livers, trimmed and pureed till smooth
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 6 – 8 gratings nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp Five Spice Powder
  • 1 T kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns, cracked
  • 1/2 C pistachios
  • the reserved liquids from both marinades

Mix well and refrigerate overnight.  Preheat the oven to 350°.  Before filling the pans fry up a bit of the mixture to test for seasoning.  Adjust if necessary.  Line two hinged pâté or loaf pans with:

  • 2 lb bacon (each pan will require 1 lb for adequate coverage)

Fill each pan 1/3 full, then add one or two venison strips, pressing them firmly into the meat mixture.  Add more seasoned meat, then additional strips of venison.  Top with the remaining meat mixture, fold the bacon over the top, add additional strips of bacon lengthwise, then add several fresh bay leaves.  Bake in the preheated 350º oven until the internal temperature reads 160º.  Weight and press until the pâté reaches room temperature.  Wrap the pan in film and foil and refrigerate until service.  Enjoy either of these delicious pâtés as an elegant appetizer… or between two slices of artisanal bread as a magnificent sandwich!  Accompany with chutney, Dijon mustard, cornichons and, of course, the perfect glass of wine… Bon Appetit!

 

©2011 Via Aurea Designs, Inc., All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

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Categories: Appetizers, Pork, Veal, Venison

Author:Steve Meyer & Dayton Azevedo

Food and fine cooking have been our passion for many years, fueled by the year-around abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, poultry and meats, as well as aromatic spices and herbs readily available to us here in the San Francisco Bay Area, making adventuresome, creative and delicious 5-star cooking a reality in our kitchen. Our aim is to make it yours as well by utilizing our step by step instructions and serial photographs. Bon Appetit from our kitchen to yours...!

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