21 May 2009

Pâtés and Terrines

My idea of heaven is eating pâté de foie gras to the sound of trumpets.
Reverend Sidney Smith

Sheila HutchinsPâtés and Terrines was written in the late 1970’s, during Hutchins' reign as cookery editor of the Daily Express. Hutchins does a great job of giving the history of pâtés and terrines and explaining their origins. While pâtés de foie gras might be a heavenly luxury, most pâtés and terrines are quite affordable.

If you think about it, a pâté is a just a meatloaf cooked slowly in bain-marie.

The word pâté is French for paste. Pâte (without the accent aigu) is the word for pastry. Both words are derived from the Latin pasticium which is the root for many “foodie” words in many languages. The French pâtissier, pâté, pâtisserie; Italian pasta; and English pasty and patty can all be traced back to this Latin root.

Terrine is often thought of a vessel for soup, but they were also the earthenware crock that types of pâté were cooked in. During the Victorian era there were many terrines made to look like the pies within them. Those dishes, once thought of as utilitarian are now collectors items. A beautiful old French specimen, such as this one, can run between $300 and $500.

Pâté Bourgeois au Lapin

A course-cut rabbit pate popular in northwest France, this recipe was given to me some year ago by a Calais shopkeeper. It is delicious, and unusual in being marinated in beer. One can drink red or white wine with it.
Put 900 g (2 lb) of chopped boned rabbit and 300ml (1/2 pint) of beer such as light ale in a basin. Add 450 g (1lb) of pork belly, chopped and without the skin, 3 bay leaves, a little thyme and parsley, and some salt and pepper. Leave it overnight, then mince the pork and rabbit separately. Line a fireproof dish with bacon rashers, pack with minced meat in it in layers, and pour the beer liquor into it. Cover with foil and a lid and bake the pâté for 2 1/2-3 hours in a slow oven, 150 C (300F) Gas 2. Cool.
I'm not sure I would make this in the $500 French lapin, but certainly in my tried and true Le Creuset terrine.

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