Adventures in Pâté

If you imagine pâté to be a silky liver mousse, enriched by a lavish portion of foie gras, it might behoove you to know that not all pâtés fall under the umbrella of haute cuisine. What’s more, many are deceptively easy to make at home, and only a handful use liver as the primary flavoring agent.

Take for example pâté de campagne, literally meaning, “country-style.” This coarsely textured forcemeat is most often made with pork, and only a small amount of added liver, which deepens—rather than overwhelms—the meaty flavor. Spiked with Cognac, the heavily seasoned French pâté is often studded with pistachios, briny peppercorns or dried fruits. But just as this traditional, country-style terrine varies by region, it’s equally customizable for your table (and though purists might blanche, it can be delicious with or without the addition of liver). To the basic meat mixture below, feel free to add in ¼ cup of minced fresh parsley, ½ cup of roughly chopped pistachios or dried cranberries, or a spoonful or two of brined green peppercorns.

Place two pounds of ground pork, ½ pound chopped chicken livers (if using) and ½ pound chopped, uncooked bacon in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together two eggs with 1⁄3 cup heavy cream and ½ cup Cognac, plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon allspice and a small, finely minced shallot. Pour the egg mixture over the meats, and mix with your hands until just combined.

Line a loaf pan with bacon strips (about 10 to 12) with the ends hanging over the sides. Pack the meat mixture on top, folding the bacon strips over the top of the pâté when complete. Wrap the pâté within the loaf pan in a double layer of aluminum foil and place in a large roasting pan. Pour about an inch of water into the roasting pan to create a water bath, and place in a 350-degree oven for one and a half hours. Remove the loaf pan from the water, keeping the foil intact, and allow it to cool.

Weigh it down by placing heavy cans or a skillet on top, and refrigerate overnight or up to several days. Unmold and serve at room temperature with cornichons and crusty bread.