If you ever need to get on my good side plonk a Pate or a Game Terrine in front of me with a good toasted sourdough bread, I will forgive and forget any and all transgressions. Pate is my cat-nip and if the day comes to exile myself to a desert island I’m bringing a tonne of pate with me………water and matches..pah!
Probably the single most famous Pate is Fois Gras, and depending on where you stand ethically it has to be said that it epitomises perfectly what the pate is all about – indulgence.
This recipe is a ‘parfait’ – simply put it’s a refined pate. It’s smooth, not particularly textured and creamy. Pates will come in lots of varying textures the chunkiest of which are essentially Terrines. The Terrine, Parfait and Pate family is quintessentially French – robust, full frontal and in your face, this recipe is what you can consider a ‘base’ recipe and you can mix it up as you feel fit, explore different livers – chicken, pig, pheasant, calf – you will get incredible variance in flavours!
Makes – 4-5 ramekins
500 Grams Duck Liver (from a butcher)
150 grams pancetta
125 grams butter + 50 grams for clarifying
120mls good port
Spalsh of brandy
1 small red onion
1 clove garlic
Start by cubing the pancetta and finely dicing the onion and garlic – lug some olive oil into a wide pan on full heat and saute all three together until the pancetta browns and releases its fat. This should only take about 3-4 minutes then remove to a bowl but keep as much of the fat in the pan.
Drop the heat to medium then add the duck livers in 2-3 batches, too much and you will start boiling not sauteing. Cook the liver until just firm to touch, then flame with the Brandy. It is important that the livers a pink in the centre if you cook them through the pate will be grainy…..and grainy ain’t good.
You will notice a hell of a lot of residue that the Duck livers leave behind in the pan which is gold dust – whack the heat up to full again then straight in with the port and de-glace the pan. Simmer the port until it reduces by about 1/2 – you want it dark and syrupy.
To assemble the pate sling the liver mix, syrupy port reduction, thyme and butter into a food processor and blitz to a paste you now have your warm pate ready to be decanted and chilled.
But….this is a parfait so the next step is to pass the mix through a very fine sieve (whats left you can keep and decant as you normally would – I use this in deep rich stews by the way). What you will be left with is a smooth light paste, decant into ramekins and top with clarified butter