The Duck Pate Project

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When my niece Courtney was eight years old she told me she wanted to become a Chef and wanted me to teach her how to cook. I decided to make Duck Country Pate with her. It only made sense to start her off with a classic French recipe, plus every kid makes brownies with their uncle and I wanted more for Courtney. So all afternoon we grinded meats, measured spices and herbs, lined pans with bacon and spoke in French accents. It was a gay old time. When the moment came to eat the pate, we put on our French Berets and sat down to dig in, after a while, my niece looked up at me, and said, “Uncle Johnny why do they call it Pate? This is just fancy meatloaf.” And she was right, because when it comes right down to it, that’s all it is, a fancy loaf of meat, but oh, what a fancy loaf of meat it is!

Pates are a blast to make and I have been making them for years. When I was in Culinary School my favorite courses were the ones that were complicated, traditional and when you had to wait a day or two for the results. I love the idea of grinding different kinds of meats and combining them together with cognac and herbs & spices. I also love the way the house smells when making a Pate; earthy, spicy and warm, and I imagine in my romantic foodie mind that every house in the country side of France smells just like my home.  -And so I ask, what could possibly be better?

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A slice of Pate makes for a fantastic appetizer or snack. I suggest you make one today.

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Country Duck Pate

**(This is Martha Stewart’s Country Duck Pate recipe and I also use some of her directions, however I eliminated the apricots & apples and made a few of my own adjustments in the preparation. *indicates what I added or changed)

*1/2 cup cognac
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, or duck fat
1 medium onion, minced
2 medium shallots, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons coarse salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon dried thyme
*1 tablespoon sage
2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, finely ground and chilled
2 pounds fresh fatback, finely ground and chilled
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless duck breast, finely ground and chilled, plus 1/2 pound, cut into strips
1 pound thinly sliced fresh fatback (Or 2 pounds bacon to line terrine pan or loaf pan)
*bay leaves
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, finely ground, and chilled
3/4 cup unsalted pistachios, toasted

DIRECTIONS
Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, shallots, and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl, and place in freezer until cold, about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together the onion mixture, eggs, cognac 1/2 cup salt, pepper, thyme, and allspice; set aside. In a large chilled bowl, combine pistachios, pork, fatback, ground duck and chicken mix well. Add the egg mixture, and mix until well combined. (I suggest letting this sit overnight in frig, if you do, do not add salt until right before ready to bake the pate).
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Line 2 terrine pans (loaf pans) with bacon fat leaving a 2-inch overhang.

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Divide half of the meat mixture between the terrines, gently press to pack down. Arrange the strips of duck. Top with remaining meat mixture.

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Fold over bacon to enclose and bang pan to make sure air is released and tightly compacted.

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Cover with parchment paper and then wrap terrine in aluminum foil.

Place terrines in each of 2 roasting pans. Add enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the terrines. Transfer to oven, and bake until a meat thermometer inserted into the center registers 140 degrees. Remove from oven completely cool.

Cut cardboard to fit just inside the rim of each terrine. Place cardboard on each terrine, and top each with a weight, such as a few cans or a brick. Then refrigerate overnight, and up to 2 days. Unmold or serve directly from the terrine. I like to let it age for five days before I cut into it because it give the flavors a chance to come out. Serve with gherkins, mustard and fruit chutney.

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About johncpicardi

Welcome to my blog. I am the author of the novel Oliver Pepper's Pickle and the published plays The Sweepers and Seven Rabbits on a Pole, both plays have been produced off Broadway and around the US. I am a graduate of Johnson & Wales University where I majored in Culinary arts. I have a BA from The University of Massachusetts and an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University. This blog is about food and food memories and every other fantastic and scrumptious thing to do with it. My appetite and passion for food is large and runs deep, sometimes its indulgent and wild and other times wholesome and simple, often humorous and always immeasurable. I grew up outside of Boston and spent many hours of my childhood in front of the TV watching Graham Kerr (The Galloping Gourmet) and Julia Child prepare all kinds of luscious meals that would make my mouth water. Other days I’d follow my mother and two grandmothers around their simple, tidy kitchens as they busily prepared hearty fragrant meals, hand-cut pastas, preserved fruits and vegetables, baked yeasty breads, spicy cookies and frosted lopsided cakes. I was there by their side asking questions and helping where needed and there were plenty of times I was ordered to leave if I was in their way. It was a given that by the time I graduated High School I would be going off to Johnson & Wales University to study Culinary Arts. Those years were fine and good. I loved the hands on creativeness of cooking whether it be the simple lesson of washing a sink full of colorful salad greens, trussing a chicken or peeling a gorgeous carrot or the complicated lessons of making a French Country Pate or Julia Child’s Cassoulet or making Brioche, it all thrilled me and my dream had arrived!
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29 Responses to The Duck Pate Project

  1. TastyScapes says:

    Drooling. You inspired me to give pate another go!! Thanks for the wonderful post!

    Like

  2. Wow! Fancy meatloaf indeed!

    Like

  3. Maryanne jago says:

    And, her mean mother told her to become an engineer instead , considering we already have an amazing chef in the family !! Courtney loved that meal & it paved the way for her to appreciate the joy of cooking. This made me smile !!

    Like

  4. PAT KIRYLO says:

    John, you are incredibly talented on so many levels. Love your book and your blog is outstanding. Makes me want to stop what i am doing to start cooking! You are an inspiration!

    Like

    • johncpicardi says:

      Thanks Pat, glad you are enjoying the blog! You’re an inspiration to me in so many ways! Love you, dear Pat.
      ox John

      Like

  5. 365zen says:

    WOW. this looks AMAZING. I would love to take a piece and spread it on a French baguette.. freshly out of the oven would be even MORE amazeballs.

    Like

    • johncpicardi says:

      Thank you! I had so much fun making it, sometimes I think I’m so odd, I get so excited…. I can be over the top sometimes when it comes to food– Major issues LOL — I like your blog very much!

      Like

      • 365zen says:

        I totally know what you mean by getting so excited. That sushi dinner I was talking about — I was literally jumping up and down waiting to have the foie gras nigiri sushi. I’ve had it at 2 other restaurants in town and it’s like a foodgasm (food orgasm in my mouth haha)… and if I ever made to food network’s best thing I ever ate, that was definitely IT. i should make a separate blog about my foodie adventures; i love food that much!

        Like

      • johncpicardi says:

        What’s holding you back? –Your Zen blog is lovely BTW… food for the soul… (sound like a cheesy book) but true!

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      • 365zen says:

        Thanks! I’m barely getting started w/ my Zen blog… and somehow I think food and Zen (for me at least) go hand in hand. Food brings me Zen! I think you should write another book — Food for the Soul… or Chicken Soup and Etc. for the Soul haha!

        Like

      • johncpicardi says:

        Oh God, no!

        Like

  6. Jayne Wallace says:

    John, learned of this blog via Pat Kirylo, fyi. The photography, layout, story are all fantastic! My question is – I see that you list that you have an MFA degree – is the art pc at top your work? Thanks in advance, Jayne

    Like

    • johncpicardi says:

      Thank you so much, Pat is so great ! — No, I an MFA in writing… thanks for the nice compliments! Stop by again! —I am so glad you like my blog, it means a lot to me, spread the word… John

      Like

      • Jayne Wallace says:

        Thanks for the reply. Yes, I will spread the word as best I can – I did “share” the duck article on FBook. In what state do you reside? And…are you dining on food today specifically to celebrate the 4th?
        Just curious,
        Jayne

        Like

      • johncpicardi says:

        Facebook would be great !I am up in Boston and just got home from the beach and ate a tuna sandwich there LOL I am going out to a cook out in a few hours, and I am sure it will be standard cook out food in which I love…. No cooking today… are you in DC? Friend me if you like on FACEBOOK or I will you…

        Like

      • Jayne Wallace says:

        I see, re Boston – yes, I also read the article about your dinner at a friend’s house – the big fireplace and harvest table in the kitchen sounded like wonderful New England to me. Yes, I have a beautiful French house in DC (2nd Empire design) in the Logan / U St area…..but currently spending the summer in Baltimore suburbs at my brother’s house near the water. 🙂
        I will go to FB now and look you up. I have 2 names on FB, my personal one is listed as Jayne Wallace and I recently started a page to advertise my artwork – it is called Jayne Wallace_Artist.
        Hope you have a lovely grill-fest today!
        Jayne

        Like

      • johncpicardi says:

        Thanks, nice to meet you, keep in touch. John

        Like

  7. Chez Foti says:

    John, that’s one mighty fine sounding and good looking pâté! And so wonderful that you made it with your niece, beats cupcakes. Totally fabulous and very inspiring, recipe well and truly bookmarked!

    Like

  8. Ronit Penso says:

    This is just a work of art! Amazing.

    Like

  9. Pingback: More on Peking Duck | Mock My Food

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