The first step

I’m lucky to live in a village that still has a butcher and fishmonger – fantastic ones at that. At a time where large supermarkets still dominate despite the growing desire to shop local, it is cheering to see a queue snaking out of the butcher every Saturday, at pretty much any time of day (although not in the photo below!).

Rawlings of Cranleigh is a family-run butcher that has fantastic meat, award-winning sausages, pies, and also a well-stocked cheese counter, with cheeses ranging from Stinking Bishop to the local Norbury Blue. The staff are very friendly, and (like good butchers should be) are always on hand with advice and cooking suggestions.

Although I won’t pretend that we do all our meat shopping there, we try to visit our butcher whenever we can; the meat is much better and more varied, which in turn helps up to discover and cook new things.

One of the things B. and I wanted to do once we had our house was to cook more of the things that we would simply buy – especially things we count as treats (or should do now we have a mortgage!). Making pâté is the first step, and hopefully you will see more posts on here of this nature in the coming months.

This weekend when we went to Rawlings, there was mixed game they had prepared displayed at the front of the shop. I had been intending to get a couple of rabbits to make pâté, but a pack of venison, pigeon, pheasant, duck, partridge and rabbit seemed too good to pass up.

I consulted a few recipes, and found that what goes into pâté seems to be pretty flexible. The constant is cooking it in a bain-marie, but in terms of what you put in there, you need some kind of fat, such as pork belly and bacon; livers add flavour but it isn’t essential. Egg or breadcrumbs are good binders. If you can, it’s good to marinate the raw meat for a few hours or more beforehand – I didn’t have the time, but found my pâté to still be full of flavour.

Pates can be cooked in a terrine/loaf tin or in preserving  jars – the cooking method remains the same; if you cook in a terrine, then you need to line it with bacon and then once cooked, weigh it down with weights in the fridge for 24 hours.

All in all, I was pleased with the results. It came out a cross between a spreadable pâté and a sliceable terrine – I am guessing if you increase the liver content it would become more spreadable. Nevertheless, this does spread – especially if you use some of the surrounding fat – not very healthy, but it tastes so good! It was gamey, but not overly so, and the flavours of the pork and chicken livers also came through to make a deliciously meaty pâté.

In B.’s words: “We’ll never buy pâté again when we can have home-made stuff like this.” I have to agree.

Mixed game and pork pâté

One word of warning: when the pate is cooked, it will be swimming in fat. I was worried as no recipe I had looked at had mentioned it. Luckily I then found a Delia recipe, where she notes that her coarse pork pâté “ will be swimming in fat, but ignore it – you are not going to eat it but its presence around the pâté keeps it moist.”

2 large knobs of butter
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Splash of vegetable or olive oil
600g mixed diced game
225g sliced pork belly, cut into chunks
240g chicken livers
300g streaky bacon, chopped
3 tsp redcurrant jelly
8 juniper berries, lightly crushed and then chopped
400g sausage meat
Glass of port
25g breadcrumbs

1) Heat a large knob of butter over a low heat and cook the onion for 5-10 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the garlic for 2 minutes to cook through. Set aside in a large bowl to cool.
2) Add more butter and a splash of oil and cook the game and pork belly for several minutes until browned. Pour the liquid that comes out into a separate bowl, then transfer the meat to the onion bowl.
3) Quickly fry off the livers and bacon, then pour the excess liquid into the reserved cooking juices bowl. Transfer the livers and bacon to the game and onion bowl. Add the redcurrant jelly, juniper berries and thyme to the cooked meat and stir well to combine.
4) Pour the reserved cooking liquid into the pan, along with a few glugs of port. Reduce until it forms a glaze, then pour into the meat bowl. Leave to cool for 45 minutes or so – this will also give a chance for the flavours to mingle.
5) Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Pulse the meat mixture (including juices) in a food processor along with the sausagemeat and breadcrumbs until you have the texture you want – I went for quite a fine pâté.
6) Pack into sterilised preserving jars – we filled 2 x ½ litre jars and 1 x 250ml jar. Place in a deep roasting tin or casserole and fill with boiling water to reach halfway up the sides. Cook in the oven for 1¼ hours until the pâté is coming away from the sides at the top. There will be quite a bit of fat in the jar (see my note above) – it will keep the pâté moist. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
7)  Chill in the fridge once cooled. The pâté should keep for at least a week, but it should last longer as the jars have an airtight seal. It will taste better if left for a day or two for the flavours to develop. Serve with good bread or toast.

21 Responses to “The first step”

  1. 1 Helen October 24, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    I would literally never have thought to make my own pate – but now I definitely will. Your butcher sounds idyllic and exactly the sort of local business we should help to preserve. I will let you know how my pate goes!

  2. 2 Shauneen December 1, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    If you put a piece of skin from the pork belly in the bottom of each jar this helps the liquid turn to jelly.

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