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Pates/Terrines

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I like to make terrines and pates. I refer to the preparations cooked in enameled or ceramic mods as terrines and I refer to those cooked in pastry crusts as pates -- pate en croute to be more specific. Perhaps this is a misstatement -- I'm not sure I like making these but I especially like consuming them. I generally let one of these set in the refrigerator for 3 days before digging in to it, the idea being that the flavors may more fully blend. Tonight I will breach a pate en croute I made Saturday. This pate is 100% pork and features a lot of whole green peppercorns in it (as well as other spices, herbs, wine, and cognac). I like to serve a somewhat over ripe Alsatian Gewurztraminer white wine with this pate. My wife does not really like this very much -- too fatty for her taste I guess -- so I end up sitting in solitude eating my pate/terrine and sipping good wine in the dining room and reading a good book. My youngest daughter also likes pates/terrines and sometimes joins me. I also make a duck terrine and a venison terrine. Each of these is somewhat different, but I love each of them. I think these are all derived from the Jane Grigson book "Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery."

Do you make pates and/or terrines? Where did you learn about these? Any books you would recommend? How do you serve your pate/terrine? What wine combination do you favor? I have been finding it difficult to obtain the fat that is used in making these preparations. I used to ask the butchers in the grocery store to save pork fat when they trim pork for sale, but these days the pork comes to the grocery stores from the suppliers well trimmed of fat. Where do you obtain pork fat for making these things?

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  1. There's not a true distinction between the two since a pâté can be cooked in a terrine and still be called a pâté.

    I've made them on occassion; base recipes can be hand in a variety of books on charcuterie or French cookery though I don't have any specific mentions and you have Jane Grigson's classic. Most of the meat ones will have a pork base, and I can add game, foie gras and so forth.

    Service: you can leave the things for self-serve of you can do formal plating by serving slices with a little bit of frisée, cornichons and croutons. Wines: whites, reds, bulles. They've all worked though I'd choose based on what's in the pâté/terrine (e.g. I wouldn't be going red with a seafood terrine).

    Pork fat: I used a couple of discrete butchers (not in supermarkets) and they generally have plenty though on occassion caul fat has to be pre-ordered.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wattacetti

      Yes, I've usually used pate and terrine interchangeably but always feel like I'm being sloppy in doing so. I find that it is surprisingly difficult to make good wine matches with my terrines. My pate en croute goes very well with slightly over-ripe Alsatian gewurztraminers and pinot gris -- maybe slightly sweet but retaining a distinct fruitiness and good acid. But I find the venison terrine I make doesn't really match to anything thus far particularly well -- not sauvignon blanc, not pinot noir (though I still have hopes for finding the right pinot noir, maybe one that is light and fruity and not at all tannic), spanish rioja. I may try a rose the next time I make the venison terrine. My duck terrine goes OK with sauvignon blanc, but again I feel that maybe there is something better I just haven't discovered yet.

    2. Hey there,

      I've only recently started making them, as I was bored with my dinner-party repertoire and thought a homemade charcuterie plate might be the cure. Didn't realize quite how trendy it's all become until I started digging around.

      For practical purposes, I think of a terrine as having identifiable solids that create a brick-and-mortar effect when sliced, whereas a paté is literally a paste.

      How is the Grigson? So far I've just been pulling the odd recipe from my home library. Julia Child has a few here and there, Simon Hopkinson has a couple in *Roast Chicken and Other Stories,* there's one I like in *The River Cottage Meat Book,* etc. etc. I've been looking at Michael Ruhlman's *Charcuterie* and Stephane Reynaud's *Terrine* for awhile, but haven't pulled the trigger. They both have their critics. I've also seen Ruhlman on television a couple of times and he seemed so pompous and self-satisfied I have a hard time thinking about reading him.

      As to the fat. Do any vendors at your local farmers market sell meat? Those folks often have back or leaf fat, or will be happy to set some aside for you next time they slaughter a pig. Higher-end butcher shops, especially ones specializing in local, humanely-raised stuff, should either have it or be willing to special-order it for you. Lastly, Mexican and Asian grocers often carry pork fat. I steer clear b/c we don't do the factory-farmed stuff.

      We generally eat it old school, with toasts, cornichons, and dijon. A little fruit is nice, and some greens with a peppery vinaigrette are good. It makes a great sandwich, either Western or a bahn mi. I've been meaning to try making ravioli with leftovers, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

      8 Replies
      1. re: eight_inch_pestle

        I like the Grigson book, but there is much in it that I have not tried. I like the simple discussion she provides about making terrines/pates at a very high level -- a ratio of fat and lean meat, some admixture of a binder such as eggs and flour, spices being mindful that when served cold the spices will be muted so take this into account. I have adapted her recipes in most cases and don't follow them slavishly. I like the James Beard terrine using beef tongue that she describes. I like her duck terrine using orange juice and orange zest. With some of my terrines I like to have strips of best quality meat -- a strip of duck breast meat, a strip of venison tenderloin, a strip of veal -- in the center of the meat. Typically I marinade these with cognac and coarsely ground black pepper. When I bite into these portions of the cold terrine I hope for a burst of flavor. I have several other books on Charcuterie but I have not tried anything from them. Partly this is because I have three tried and true recipes that I keep repeating. This may sound boring, but the plain fact is I do not cook and consume these very often -- maybe cooking two or three per year. Thus, when I repeat my pate en croute recipe, for example, I won't have eaten it for a year or more. If I were to cook more from these books I would probably look into some of the other preparations such as rillettes or confits or gallantines.

        1. re: icookstuff

          A galatine is really nice to have in the summertime as it makes a nice tasty lunch.

          Rillettes haven't worked for me unless it's made in quantities that I can't consume quickly enough, so it 's one of those to consider when there are large groups.

          Confits are nice to have and they can be relatively stable in the back of the refrigerator (or if you have a cold room). If you have issues with quantity, I'd suggest making quail confit since you can power through those pretty quickly (the remaining breast meat can be quickly grilled on skewers or made into meatballs).

          1. re: wattacetti

            I wonder what it is about rilletes that doesn't work for you in small quantities. I've had no problem with as little as a pound, which shreds down to a pretty manageable amount for two over a few meals. Plus with a nice coating of rendered fat it keeps for weeks and weeks, and freezes OK, too.

            1. re: eight_inch_pestle

              It is harder for me to arrive at the right texture and balance between fat and shredded meat when making pork or rabbit rillettes with less than 2 pounds of starting materials. Under that amount I have found that I generally wind up adding fat, which changes the taste because it hasn't been poaching the meat and aromatics.

              I don't do goose and duck rillettes, primarily because of cost (goose) or other uses for the product (duck).

              1. re: wattacetti

                Yeah, I've only done pork myself, although I'm terribly curious about duck.

                1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                  Much as I like duck rillettes, I like duck confit more whole or as a component of cassoulet and garbure. Confit duck breast is pretty meh and also a waste of the breast (its leanness has the same issues as rabbit)

                  1. re: wattacetti

                    Didn't even realize people did confit of breast. I think all my recipes suggest reserving the breast for another use. Had to google garbure...sounds intriguing.

                    1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                      People have tried to confit the breast, with very poor results.

                      Garbure is only as good as the ingredients you put into it. If you want to add a bit of zip add some confit Toulouse sausages (done in duck fat) alongside the duck legs and the heel of the ham.

                      Since this is a thread about pâté, it's one of the nice things to eat while the garbure is cooking.

      2. My father made terrine fairly often when I was growing up, then passed the mantle to me and I have been making them for him for the past decade or so. Generally it's a fairly simple mix of a variety of ground meats (sometimes including venison) and pistachios (glad to give you the family recipe if you are interested) but sometimes I add currants or diced prunes or do a fancy forcemeat in the middle. I love the idea of green peppercorns in it, will try that soon! I have also made the duck terrine out of James Peterson's Glorious French Food and it is sublime but an incredibly labor-intensive operation compared to the family recipe. There is a Time Life cooking series cookbook called Terrines, Pates and Galantines that I bought, thoroughly enjoyed reading and never made anything from. It's available real cheap on Amazon.

        3 Replies
        1. re: GretchenS

          I use about 4 tablespoons of whole green peppercorns in about 3.5 LBS of forcemeat. It is seemingly "a lot," so I thought I would mention this quantity. I have several cookbooks on charcuterie but tend to stick with the three or four productions I have enjoyed in the past. Partly this is because some of the recipies I see call for ingredients that I may not have readily available such as wild boar, quail, etc. I would appreciate receiving your family recipe for your venison terrine. Is there a "private message" functionality on Chow Hound by which you can send that to me?

          1. re: icookstuff

            Glad to post it for anyone to enjoy. This is likely to be much simpler than what you have been doing but its great virtue is how quickly you can throw it together. Also thanks for the amounts on the green peppercorns, it is interesting how much you have to season these, on my handwritten recipe I have written YES next to the amounts for salt and pepper.

            So here is where I posted it before: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4942...

            To make the venison version, I use ground venison instead of dark turkey and I marinate strips of venison meat in cognac or madeira and make a decorative pattern of them in the middle. Often I will use some crushed juniper berries and thyme for seasoning when I do the venison version. As you noted at the outset, it is worth restraining oneself for 2 or 3 days before eating, there is no question that improves the flavor.

            1. re: GretchenS

              Well, thanks for confirming that idea about taste improving over time. I had thought maybe that was just a foolish tale my cooking mentor brainwashed me with! Usually I have some left over forcemeat that I cook up, and I will eat some of this for several days while waiting for the regular terrine/pate to be officially "ready."

              I will look up your recipe for venison terrine. My terrines are also generally pretty simple, but they still take up a lot of time and effort in the making!

              I make my forcemeats with a food processor. Some of my forcemeats I like cut very fine, such as the pate en croute I am now enjoying in the evenings as my evening meal. Other terrines, however, I like to have some coarser texture. With these I will do a half-way job of mincing everything up in the food processor. Typically I do a first processing in several flights of the various meat/fat materials. I stir this together to blend better. Then I do a second processing in several flights to get everything very finely cut. If I am wanting a coarser cut, I hold out 1/2 of the total first pass and mix that with the remainder which has been twice processed. Obviously this can be adapted as needed for coarser or finer texture.

              You also probably know that you can add some variation by providing pork fat in a terrine in solid blocks -- for example little 1/4" x 1/4" cubes. This will produce a pretty random pattern when you slice the terrine. I have not done this in a long time, but it is something that can be done.

        2. don't feel too awfully guilty about mixing up "terrine" and "pate" -- I live in France and have seen the two sitting next to one another in the case...and not a single visible difference between them...and I've heard the terms used almost interchangeably.

          It doesn't seem quite so intimidating if you think of it as meatloaf...which is what it is, at its most basic lever.

          Those wondering about duck breast...yes -- grill, panfry, or roast it -- but it's too lean to use in chacuterie (unless you smoke it whole and slice it thin...oh yes, yes, please)

          An independent butcher (tough as they are getting to find) will be your best bet for various fats and other "not-mainstream" cuts

          1. i am about to make my first pate, and i'm using bourdain's recipe in his cookbook. i called my local butcher (not at a chain grocery) to ask for caul fat and nothing. i found a local farmer who says she has leaf lard but not caul fat. do you think i could wrap the pate in the leaf lard rather than the caul fat? will that be overly greasy/fatty? (perhaps a nonsensical question given what we're talking about!) the recipe has you pour a cup of duck fat over the pate toward the end, which is what made me think about the greasiness.

            2 Replies
            1. re: girouxstacey

              I've seen pates and terrines larded in regular bacon here (streaky bacon in UK parlance) -- terrines and pates have a fairly large margin of error.

              1. re: girouxstacey

                if your butcher can do it, thinly sliced uncured fatback works well as a substitute for caul fat.