A rustic French country pâté, based on one from Bon Appétit.
- 3/4 C Cognac or other brandy
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 C minced onion
- 2 1/2 lb ground pork
- 28 slices bacon (not thick cut), divided: 18 set aside for lining the pan, 10 finely chopped for mixing into the pâté
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 tsp dried thyme (or 7 1/2 tsp fresh thyme)
- 1 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/3 C whipping cream
- 1 6-oz piece ham steak, cut into 1/4-inch strips
For serving: dijon mustard, cornichon pickles, good bread, extra salt for sprinkling
- Pour 1/2 C of the brandy into a small saucepan. Note the level on a chopstick or a wooden spoon. Add the rest of the brandy and boil to reduce down to the 1/2 C level. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Melt the butter in a sauté pan and sauté the onion until translucent and softened. A little browning is ok, but try to avoid much. Set the onion aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, combine the ground pork and chopped bacon. Mix to blend well.
- Add the cooled onion, the salt, thyme, allspice, garlic, and pepper. mix to distribute evenly.
- Add the eggs, reduced brandy, and cream to the mixture. Mix everything well.
- Prepare a standard bread loaf pan by lining it with the slices of bacon. 6 slices will go on each of the long sides of the pan, each slice extending across the base, up the wall, and over the edge of the pan. Three slices will line each short side of the pan. (They needn’t cover the length of the base, just reach to the center.)
- Pack about 1/2 of the pâté mixture into the pan, trying to eliminate any air pockets.
- Lay the strips of sliced ham steak over the surface, oriented along the length of the pan.
- Add the rest of the pâté mixture on top, packing it down. If you have more than can fit in the pan, set it aside. You can cook it up as sausage patties and eat it with toast while this cooks.
- Starting at the short sides of the pan, fold the overhanging bacon up over and onto the pâté mixture. Then fold the bacon from the long sides up and onto the loaf.
- Wrap the top of the loaf pan tightly in foil. Insert the probe of a ChefAlarm into the very center of the pâté. Set the high-temp alarm on the ChefAlarm for 155°F (68°C).
- Boil a quart or so of water.
- Place the pate dish in a cake pan in the oven and pour the boiling-hot water into the pan, as deep as you can without spilling over the edge.
- Cook the pâté until the high-temp alarm sounds (about 2 hours). Verify the temperature with your Thermapen.
- Remove the loaf pan from the oven and set it on the counter to cool somewhat. Place the loaf pan on a rimmed baking sheet in the refrigerator and weight the top of the pâté with a heavy cast iron pan or a plate with some large cans on it. This pressing as it cools will help its texture.
- Chill overnight.
- Remove the pan from the refrigerator at least an hour before you want to eat. Remove the foil. (You can tent the foil lightly over it at this point, but you don’t want it wrapped tight.)
- Warm the bottom of the pan in a bath of hot (not boiling) water. Run a thin-bladed spatula or knife around the edge around the inside of the pan and invert it onto a cutting board. The whole pâté should come out. If it sticks, cajole it with a thin spatula.
- Present it whole, allowing people to slice their piece fresh. Enjoy with crusty bread, mustard, pickles, and good company.