There are as many deliciously different Pâtés in France as there are households to make them. Pâté Maison is a traditional family staple. The recipe varies enormously from region to region according to the seasons, the ingredients available and local tastes and every farmhouse, auberge, charcuterie and chateau has its own version.

 

This is one of mine. Studded with local walnuts and flavoured with the famous wine of the region it’s another lovely way to celebrate the bounty of the Quercy.

Ingredients

1kg Pork. Use the cheaper cuts with a goodly amount of fat.
400g Lambs Liver. You can use Pork Liver if you prefer.
2 Handfuls of Breadcrumbs
200g Walnuts
I Shallot, Chopped
2 Large Cloves Garlic, Chopped
A large handful of Fresh Parsley
6 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
Half a glass of Cahors Wine
A Good Slosh of Armagnac
1 Heaped Teaspoon Salt

Method

Heat the oven to 170 Degrees centigrade.

If you have a food processor making a Pâté is simplicity itself. If you don’t have such a modern convenience you can still make this recipe by chopping everything finely by hand. It will take a lot longer but the result will be equally delectable.

First make your breadcrumbs. The easiest way is to place your stale bread in the food processor and whizz for thirty seconds or so. Add the herbs, salt, garlic and shallot and whizz for another thirty seconds. You now have a highly aromatic, green mixture. Put it into a separate bowl whilst you deal with the meat.

First take the liver and put that into your food processor with half a glass of good Cahors wine and a slosh of Armagnac – or Cognac if you prefer. Whizz for thirty seconds. This mixture won’t look desperately inviting, but it adds essential flavour to the finished Pâté. Pour it into another separate bowl.

Now cut your pork into large chunks, discarding any skin or bone and any obviously grisly bits. Put this into the processor (it’s better to split it into two halves) and whizz for about twenty seconds – then check the consistency. You don’t want to overdo it. One of the things that characterises a true Pâté Maison, as opposed to any old Pâté you can buy in a supermarket, is it’s coarse texture. Tip your mixture onto the work surface, and just check that there are no long stringy bits in there! The cheaper your cut of meat the more likely you are to find a few. I always do.

Now divide the pork mixture in half and put half back in the processor with half the herb mixture and half the liver mixture. Whizz for ten seconds. Add half the walnuts and whizz for another five seconds. Repeat with the other half. Mix the two halves together thoroughly with your hands.
You should now have a sausage meat type consistency.

Press this carefully into a 1kg loaf tin or an oval baking dish. Make sure you press the mixture into all the corners. Cover with aluminium foil and place in a Bain Marie in the centre of the oven. Turn the oven down to 160 degrees and bake for an hour and a half.

Remove the Pâté from the oven and check that the centre is piping hot by inserting skewer. If you are unsure give it another ten minutes in the oven.

If you wish to press your Pâté a little, a good idea if you’re going to serve it in slices, wrap a brick in foil and place it on the top of the tin. Then place the tin (plus brick!) in the fridge for about four hours.

Turn your utterly gorgeous Pâté out onto a long plate and serve garnished with fresh parsley.

Although Pâtés are not really very difficult to make, they do look quite spectacular as a first course, with a little green salad and a lemon dressing, or perhaps an apricot chutney.

Amanda Lawrence

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