This pâté has the unmistakable tang of rural France about it.
2 pounds lean pork, cut in large cubes
1/2 pound fresh, tender pork fat (jowl fat is best)
1/2 teaspoon very finely minced garlic
4 juniper berries, smashed with a heavy knife and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
dash of ground cloves
dash of ground allspice
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 cup rich pork stock
2 tablespoons lard or butter
1/2 cup finely minced shallots
1/2 pound chicken livers
1/4 teaspoon saltpeter
1 egg, lightly beaten
a few bay leaves
1. Start the pâté 3 days before cooking it and at least 4 days before eating it. Using a large, heavy knife, cut half of the pork cubes into a coarse paste that resembles ground pork. Cut the other half of the pork cubes into fine dice. Combine in a bowl. Cut the pork fat into very fine dice and add to the chopped pork. Blend in the garlic, juniper berries, thyme, cloves, allspice, salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons of the brandy, and the pork stock. Mix well. Marinate, covered and refrigerated, for 2 days.
2. One day before cooking, add the lard or butter to a heavy sauté pan over moderate heat. Add the shallots, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of brandy, and cook until reduced by half. Add the shallot mixture to the work bowl of a food processor along with the chicken livers. Purée thoroughly.
3. Add the shallot-liver mixture to the marinated meat mixture. Add the saltpeter, if using, and the beaten egg. Mix well. Sauté a small amount of the mixture in a frying pan over moderately high heat to make sure the seasoning is correct. (Remember: hot meat tastes saltier than cold meat, so if the mixture seems at all low in salt, add some more.)
4. Select a terrine that is practically filed up by the pâté mixture- a long, narrow French style one (about 10 inches by 3 inches by 3 inches) is especially elegant. Pack the pâté mixture into the terrine, place end-to-end bay leaves on top of the pâté (right down the center), and cover the terrine tightly with aluminum foil. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
5. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 225 degrees. Place the terrine in a large roasting pan, and pour boiling water all around the terrine, nearly up to the top. Place the roasting pan in the oven, and bake until the terrine reaches 170 degrees on a quick-read meat thermometer.
6. Remove terrine from oven and let it come to room temperature (about 3 hours). Then, place the terrine, still covered in aluminum foil, in the refrigerator. Wait at least 24 hours before eating it (it's even better after ripening for 4 to 5 days).
7. When ready to serve, either cut 1-inch slices right out of the terrine mold, or slice the terrine after unmolding it onto a platter. To accomplish the latter, you must dip the terrine in warm water for half a minute or so, and run a knife all along the interior sides of the terrine. Invert it on a platter. Once the pâté has come out of the mold, cut it into 1-inch slices.
Though we're fond of many different types of pâté, the coarse country pâté -- usually made from ground pork, pork fat, and seasonings -- is our all-time favorite. This one has the unmistakable tang of rural France about it. Serves 12 as a first course.