In the cooperative beef purchase I posted about a few weeks ago I got a little over a pound of beef liver that I've been thinking about. Beef liver is kind of intense served straight up, but inspired by the fantastic selection of terrines I saw at Bar Boulud last week (I had the beef cheek terrine), I thought I'd put the beef liver to use in a pâté de campagne. Combined with pork and chicken the strong flavor of the beef liver is just perfect.
I was experimenting and wasn't sure where this was going to go, but here's a rough narrative. Terrines and pâtés are great ways to use all kinds of things in the kitchen that don't fit anywhere else. In other words, don't ask what goes into the terrine, you might not want to know, but really it's not so bad.
Using the fine disk on my Kitchen Aid grinder attachment, I ground a little over a pound of boneless pork rib chops and about the same amount of beef liver into the mixer bowl. Since the pork was a bit lean for this purpose (about a 2:1 ratio of pork to fat is about right), and I was using chicken as well, I also put the raw skin of a whole chicken (I said "don't ask") through the grinder with the pork and liver along with about eight large shallots sautéed with two cloves of garlic. Then I added the spices--about a tablespoon of kosher salt, and a quarter teaspoon each of black peppercorns, allspice, thyme, sage, and a bay leaf ground together using a coffee grinder with a spinning blade, and about three tablespoons of bas Armagnac. For another texture and flavor, I added about half a pound of coarsely chopped crimini mushrooms. I threw in an egg to bind it all together, and mixed thoroughly using the mixer.
So how do you know if the spices are right with something like this? Take a little of the forcemeat and fry it up in some butter. So far so good.
I had some pancetta in the fridge, so I sliced it thin and lined a buttered loaf pan with it, and filled it about halfway with the meat mixture (if I make it in a metal loaf pan instead of an earthenware terrine, does that mean it's really meatloaf?--maybe). Then came the chicken. I had used the breasts for rosemary chicken with asparagus the night before, and the skin went into the grinder with the pork and the liver, so I layered some strips of leg and thigh meat into the pâté, filled the pan with more of the pork and liver, and covered it with a buttered sheet of parchment paper, and then aluminum foil to hold in the moisture.
I had at least a pound of ground meat leftover, so it went into the freezer for another day. I could use it to make this pâté again, or maybe add it to a stuffing for something else. I also had the bones and back of a chicken, so that went into the bag of parts for stock in the freezer. If you cook all the time, everything gets used.
Terrines are usually baked in the oven in a bain marie--a shallow pan of water--so I set my loaf pan in a casserole with water and baked it at 350 degrees F until it reached an internal temperature of 160 degrees F--about 90 minutes. I let it cool for about an hour and meanwhile cut a sheet of cardboard to fit just over the pan, and then weighted it down and refrigerated it overnight.
The terrine made its own layer of aspic, and it's been so hot here in New York that I could just leave the pan out at room temperature for a few minutes before unmolding it, and it came out neatly.
Last night I served it for dinner, garnished with strips of roasted pepper and chopped parsley, cornichons on the side, with slices of toasted Ukrainian rye bread and a mesclun salad. Even Grandson of Food loved it. He's nineteen months old, and he's not interested in a grilled cheese sandwich, but he likes pâté de campagne.