This month's Charcutepalooza challenge is packing - and that means pate.
I love pate of all kinds, so does David, but as we get further into the challenges, I struggle more and more with what I can make - dishes that work with the rules of Charcutepalooza and ones that my kids will eat. It never pays for me to make anything that only half the family will eat, which is why I never make headcheese, or stuffed trotters. We were great through sausages, and bacon, and we flew through brining, and somehow I managed to inspire them to eat a shrimp terrine last month, but loaves of compressed meat were going to be a hard sell even on a good day.
Could I make a pate that the whole family will eat?
I knew that doing something rustic would never work - too many weird obtrusive pieces sticking out here and there, and forget inlaying a little meat surprise in the middle of the pate. That's the kind of weird science that would have me banned from the kitchen.
I decided on a pate that was smooth, spreadable, could be served without turning it out of the pot into a loaf. It could be sold to the children as a fun spread, the way almond butter is a fun spread. I went with my favorite pate of all time - chicken liver. It might take a few go-arounds, but I figured I could sell this.
Chicken liver pate is not just simple, it is also inexpensive, even if you are buying the best livers, from the best chickens, at the happiest farms, and it barely requires a recipe. In fact, I'm not going to give you one.
I'm going to just tell you to buy chicken livers - you won't need many of them, a little over a half pound of livers makes three small pots full - take them home to your kitchen, gently saute them in copious amounts of butter, onions, garlic, add salt and pepper, and handfuls of fragrant herbs, whatever beautiful herbs you've picked up at the market, let it all cook together about 5-6 minutes until the livers are not red, but a lovely pink inside, and add your favorite booze. I added tequila, but you can go right ahead and improvise, bourbon, cognac, it's all good. Heavy-handedness is mandatory here.
Put the boozed up livers in a food processor, give them a whirl or two, or ten, until you have a nice thick consistency, no solids, just something like a thick, thick shake. Check for seasoning and add some salt if you think it needs it. Pour the mixture into pots. Cover the top with a few sprigs of herbs and pour a little clarified butter over the top. Put pots in the fridge for a few hours until they set.
Serve a cold pot with toasted rounds of baguette, quartered figs, a hunk of good manchego, some slices of duck sausage, cornichons and if my kids are around, a few slices of star fruit and raspberries.
As of tonight, I am working at 50%. Lucy loved pate, slathered on toasts with side helpings of cheese and fruit. Edie just ate the toasts. But I take my victories as I get them. I'll be making this again, and I'll take another crack at her. Someday, even if it kills me, she'll love it, just as I do.
Here are our best-of picks for the binding challenge:
1. Chow Eng Down
Tempura Head cheese
2. The Messy Epicure
Saffron and Seafood Terrine
3. Artful Wish
Chicken Liver Terrines with Shallots
4. Dabblings & Whimsey
Chicken Liver Terrine with Chipotle and Raisins
5. One Vanilla Bean
Chicken Liver Terrine & Home-made Ritz Crackers
6. Eat Live Travel Write
Insane head cheese
7. Inspired By Wolfe
Xiao long bao
8. Sensible Worlds
The Big Two-Headed Hog Dish
9. Good For The Palate
Toe Cheese (Trotters)
10. In Scott's Kitchen
Scallop & Crab Mousseline Ravioli in Leek Brown Butter
1. Taste Food Blog
Kale Wrapped Salmon and Scallop Mousseline with Tomato Coulis
2. Bona Fide Farm
Parsleyed Ham in Aspic
3. A Cook Blog
French dip bánh mì
4. Hounds in the Kitchen
Almost All-Ohio Trout and Shrimp Mousseline
Tip to Toe Terrine