What to do with 1lb of pork, 1lb of veal, 1/2 lb of pork liver, and a slab of bacon? Make pate of course!
How on earth did this idea come about? A while ago we got some ground veal from our CSA. I had no idea what to do with it–nor with veal as a general matter. I flipped through some cookbooks and came across various recipes for meatloaf. This was uninspiring to me as I never really cared much for meatloaf. Then I saw in Julia Child a pate recipe and thought, that’s it! (Or should I say, “voila”?). Of course, if you think about it, a pate of this type is not that much different than a meatloaf. But this is me, and you put some French name on it and suddenly I’m interested. The seasonings are of course different, and you guessed it, the Julia Child recipe has a lot more fat. (Not sure that liver is typical in a meatloaf either, as Americans don’t tend to go for organ meat). In fact, it calls for ground pork, ground veal, and straight-up pork fat. I asked our meat CSA if I could buy some, to which the answer was yes, but the minimum size is about 10lb. They could provide the pork liver however. (You really can get everything from our CSA which is neat as it’s hard to find these things in grocery stores. Plus, as I’ve said before, I don’t like the idea of eating liver of animals raised in CAFO-type operations). That’s one thing I never thought I’d be searching for. Pork Liver.
My alternate recipe didn’t require any fat (Pierre Franey’s Cuisine Rapide that I picked up at the Episcopal Book Fair. I think he also tries to be “lower-fat” in his recipes, which observation was met with my husband almost choking when I told him the ingredient list).
It’s pretty easy to make (Cuisine Rapide, right?). You saute the liver a bit with shallots and butter and then blend it in with the two meat varieties. Then you add the seasonings–this recipe called for allspice, cloves, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne, which didn’t seem all that French to me, but whatever. Dump it into a loaf pan, smooth it out, and place strips of bacon across the top. Bake it in a water bath, and voila (yes, I said voila again!). I’ve seen some recipes say that you weight the pate down as it cools off (in fact, this being stated as an easy way to turn a meatloaf into a pate) but it was late and we were hungry.
When we took it out of the oven I was worried that water had leaked into the loaf pan from the water bath, as there was just so much liquid surrounding the pate. But on closer inspection we realized it was just the juices (or liquefied fat?). It was so rich tasting Mike and I wondered how we were ever going to eat it all. We planned to take some to a party the next day, but as often happens when travelling with a child, something is forgotten, and that was it. On the other hand, eating it cold the second day, it definitely tasted much more like pate. If we had weighted it down while cooling, probably even more. (And if we had made the more typical version with pork fat, Lord only knows!) Oddly enough, we both liked it much more cool than hot. I’m still not quite sure how we’re going to get through it all, but we’ll certainly try. (Any co-workers reading this, I can bring some in for you tomorrow!)
You’ll note this post is called Pork Liver Part 1: that’s because you only need 1/2 pound and I had to buy 1lb. Never fear, though: I figured out a way to use up the second half and will post on that later–leaving you all in suspense until then!