Pate Cake, Pate Cake, Baker’s Man

Howdy folks.  As I said in my last entry, I’m making preparations to leave Kansas City. While I am saddened to leave a place I’ve called home for the past four years, I am extremely excited to pursue bigger and better artistic opportunities in the Northeast.

To go out with a bang, I’m drawing inspiration from the Aixois Restaurant here in the Brookside neighborhood of town. This French-Casual restaurant features all sorts of novel and innovative French cuisine. When I went there for dinner a few weeks ago, I was very impressed by the charcuterie plate, the central item being the house-made pâté.

What better way to integrate fine cuisine and the Midwest than to make a pâté, not of liver but of pork! When you review (and hopefully make) the recipe based on something I found on Epicurious, you will notice  a lot of unhealthy stuff in there. Between the pork, cream, butter — and of course bacon — it sounds like a heart attack just waiting to happen. But it tastes so good. Just eat in moderation and all should be fine. This is definitely going on the menu for my first beer tasting party on the East Coast!

Country Pâté

ingredients

¾ cup cognac

Butter

1 onion

1 16-oz package thick cut bacon (you need at least 14 slices for the pan, plus more)

2 ½ lbs ground pork

3 cloves garlic

1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme

1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice

1 teaspoon salt

black pepper to taste

2 eggs

⅓ cup whipping cream

2 or 3 thick cut pieces of ham (I just want to the deli counter)

method

In a large pot, reduce the cognac down to about ½ cup; once reduced, remove from heat and let cool. Dice the onion (I used a medium dice, but I’m sure if you had better knife skills than I do, you could go finer too) and saute in the butter until translucent. Put the onions in a large prep bowl to cool slightly while you line your pan with bacon.  (You should probably also heat your oven to 350*F at this point.)

In a 9”x5”x3” loaf pan, line the sides with bacon strips: On the each short (5”) side, I placed four strips of bacon such that a few inches of each strip hung off the side of the pan. On each long side, I cut 3 strips of bacon to create 6 half-strips and used these to line the sides. You’re going to cover the top of the pate with the bacon strips, so make sure enough is hanging over the sides to accomplish this. There should be some bacon left over after the pan has been lined; cut the strips crosswise and add it to the bowl with the onions.

By now, the onions and cognac should be cool enough to mix with the rest of your ingredients. Mix the pork, spices, eggs, and cream with the onions and bacon already in your bowl.  When the ingredients have been combined, press half of the pork mixture into your bacon lined pan. Cut the ham into little strips and place these on the first half of the pork mixture; top with the remaining pork and then cover the entire pan with the bacon that hangs over the side. Cover the pan tightly with foil and place the pan on a cookie sheet (I also lined my cookie sheet with foil).

Bake the pâté for 1 ½ to 2 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 155-160*F. Remove the loaf from the pan (you can let it cool slightly) and then let it cool completely on a wire rack. Wrap the loaf in foil and refrigerate overnight.

Serve at room temperature as part of a charcuterie; I did not have a wooden serving board, but I did have a bamboo plate. Pâté, cucumbers, cornichons, creamy and grain mustards, and of course crusty bread!!

Alternatively, I made a pâté breakfast: slightly warm and caramelize a slice of pâté in a pan, top with a sunnyside egg, and garnish with cornichons and tomatoes!

Either way, serve with a crisp wine or a French inspired bier.

 

Bierw du Mois

So I’ve been packing instead of brewing…what to do, what to do? I reached into my cellar for something decadent, luxurious, and of course will complement the intricacies of this French staple. While a Saison would go nicely, I turned to something a little more complex: a lovely Lambic from the Flanders region of Belgium. Today’s selection: the Oude Gueuze Lambic Ale from the Lanssens Artisanaal Brewery.

As a style, lambics are noted for the complex flavor profile, focussing on sour notes. I have talked about my sour beer before. As the “bugs” take longer to work than brewer’s yeast, aging becomes an important aspect in making a beer of this style. Much of the complexity in this Gueze comes from blending; it is actually a combination of different beer “vintages” that are then bottled for consumption. You just can’t make it any other way!!

The Oude Gueze certainly has a sour note… that’s to be expected! Also there is a “roughness” or earthiness, some grainy/malty, and even something that might be like cut hay. I’m so glad to have had this beer in my collection…What better way to leave Kansas.

Cheers

- Mike TGBG

 

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