Pate de Campagne: a front line look at French butchery

September 16th, 2011 by Daniel Leave a reply »

The butcher didn’t speak english and I don’t speak french so the beginning of my first pate making experience did not look particularly auspicious.  He had agreed to coach me on the fine points of french butchery as a favor to one of his very good clients: my long time friend whom I was visiting after not seeing him for seventeen years.  I had mentioned that I was interested in french butchery and he had arranged this experience for me.

Nikki, the butcher, placed a hotel pan in front of me filled with pork neck, slivers of pork belly and livers.  The initial feelings of discomfort on both our sides evaporated after I dug my hands into the meat pile and started grinding it up  in the first step of making pate. I ground up two kilos of liver and two kilos of neck and two kilos of belly.  I also added garlic, onions sauteed until they were blond, shallots, parsley and chives.

Nikki then added salt, curing salt, pepper and mustard seed and then poured a little cold water and 6 eggs into the mixer: one per kilo, he said.  After the ingredients were ground up, I scraped the ingredients into the mixer.  After a few minutes in the mixer the ingredients had begun to look like pate.  With a baking spatula I scraped the bowl of the mixer, making sure that no remains were left clinging to the sides of the bowl.

I next placed pig belly skin (fat back) in the bottom of the terrine casserole dish and heaped the pate in up to the rim of the dish.  Nikki brought the caul fat out, asked me if I knew it (with gestures and broken english), and when I nodded, proceeded to lay it out over the terrine of pate.  Caul fat is the intestine of a cow, similar to thick spider webs in appearance.  I patted the air bubbles out and then we put the terrines in hotel pans and then put them in the oven at 200 degrees for 2 hours.

After the time had elapsed we pulled the pate terrines from the oven, and then, leaving them in the hotel pans, added water to the hotel pans so that the terrines were in an inch of water.  We then placed the hotel pans back in the oven at 145 degrees and slowly cooked them until they had reached 70 degrees celsius in the middle.  We made quite a few other different kinds of pate, but this one stands out in my head as my very first experience with french butchery.

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1 comment

  1. Michael Miller says:

    Dan thank you for the detail. Did you film any of this? Will we see it on Duckspoon soon?

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