Pork Paté (Curing Salt)
This recipe calls for curing salt, which includes curing agents that help the pâté to develop rich color and flavor. Allspice berries, juniper berries, nutmeg and other seasonings play an important role in the final taste of the pâté. Caul fat can be ordered from a butcher shop.
- 1/4 lb. fresh pork liver
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 lb. pork back fat, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 lb. pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 Tbs. coarse sea salt
- 1/4 tsp. curing salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
- 1 fresh or 1/2 dried bay leaf
- 2 allspice berries
- 2 juniper berries
- 1/4 tsp. yellow mustard seeds
- 1/4 tsp. sweet Spanish paprika
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 2 Tbs. fresh bread crumbs
- piece caul fat, about 16 inches square (see note above)
Put the pork liver in a bowl and pour in the milk. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
In a large bowl, combine the pork back fat, pork shoulder, sea salt, curing salt, pepper, bay leaf, allspice berries, juniper berries, mustard seeds, paprika, nutmeg and brandy. Using your hands, mix well to combine. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Drain the liver, discarding the milk. Rinse the liver several times under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Cut the liver into 1-inch cubes, add to the pork mixture and mix well to combine.
Place the pork mixture in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Return the mixture to the large bowl.
In another bowl, stir together the broth, cream and bread crumbs. Add to the ground meat mixture and, using your hands, mix well to combine. Transfer this mixture to the food processor and pulse until well mixed, 1 to 2 minutes; it will be a loose, wet mixture.
Preheat an oven to 300°F.
Line a 2-quart pâté or meat-loaf terrine with the caul fat, allowing it to drape over the ends and sides. Tightly pack the meat mixture into the prepared terrine. Tap the terrine on the work surface several times to eliminate any air pockets. Fold the exposed caul fat over the top of the terrine to enclose.
Cover the terrine and place it in a larger baking dish. Pour boiling water into the larger dish until it reaches halfway up the sides of the terrine. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the pâté registers 145°F, about 1 1/2 hours. Add more boiling water during cooking if it evaporates below the halfway mark.
If desired, for a very tight, dense pâté, remove the cover and, while the pâté is still hot, place a weight, such as a foil-wrapped brick, on top to press out any excess juices. Let cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 days before serving.
To serve, carefully cut the pâté into slices about 1/2 inch thick; an unweighted pâté may be a bit crumbly. Makes one 2-quart pâté; serves 12 to 14.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of French Cooking, by Georgeanne Brennan & Sarah Putnam Clegg (Oxmoor House, 2009).