Vegetarians, avert your eyes. Mom, this is not for you. You carnivores, however, take note. This was a remarkable evening. I ventured into pate territory. I've never made pate before, or eaten it for that matter. My husband and I generally tend towards less venerable cultures for our dinner plates. Mexican, Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, even Italian feels more humble than French. But I have been thinking about Molly Wizenberg's column in Bon Appetit for a while now, recipe here. She makes a rustic country pate that looks so lovely and delicious that I finally decided to cross over. The process was not encouraging. Do you know how much meat goes into pate? I realize this is probably a silly question, but the point being that I didn't realize. Onions sauteed in more butter than seems wise, two and a half pounds of ground pork, lots of bacon. I adapted, as I generally do. Prunes (or dried plums as they seem to be called now) in the middle, rather than ham (isn't three pounds of pork enough?) and some ground turkey because for some reason I didn't want to buy that third package of ground pork and the turkey was local. Plus whiskey rather than Cognac, because who keeps Cognac in the cupboard?
So the whole mess gets mixed with some beaten egg and seasonings and then is mushed into a loaf pan. Two and a half hours later and viola. Pate. Only not quite. Because then you're supposed to weight it with a brick overnight to make it easier to slice, Molly says. A brick? "Honey, do we have a brick?" Hubbie appears in the kitchen with a 14# granite paving stone, roughly the shape of my loaf pan. We settle it onto the pate on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator and fast forward to this evening. Hubbie and I are famished. We walk in the house at almost the same time and both make a beeline for the kitchen.
I am apprehensive. The thing looks a little gross, to be honest. There's that giggly stuff all around the ends- is this aspic? Hmmm. Hubbie warms the bottom of the pan and we ceremoniously plop the whole mess out onto a serving platter that seems about the right size. And its beautiful. Really. Even to a recovering vegetarian. The slices of bacon wrapped around it are really quite pretty. I'm not kidding here. We eat it slowly, with Dijon mustard, crackers, and small slices of Batampte pickles (because cornichons, as are traditional, are frankly sometimes hard to find in rural Vermont), and drink a goodly amount of red wine along with it. Very, very good. Rich, a wee bit crumbly, with the zing of the mustard and crunch of the pickles. I feel ridiculously sophisticated. The prunes are delicious in the middle- their sweetness is such a nice contrast to the rich, dense pate. It could have used a little more salt- but we sprinkled coarse salt over the slices and did just fine. All in all, not a bad introduction to pate.