The following delicious pâtè brims with duck flavor, and gains a delicious, subtle sweetness from dried apricots.
large duckling (about 5 to 6 pounds)
2 tablespoons Armagnac
1/4 pound pork fat, cut in cubes, plus additional pork fat, sliced, for lining the terrine (have your butcher cut 3/4 pound fatback into thin slices)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme
2 teaspoons orange zest
1/4 teaspoon saltpeter (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup dried apricots, halved and plumped in hot water
1/4 pound good-quality canned foie gras, cut into 6 strips, about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches long
1. Bone the duck completely, or have your butcher do so. Discard skin and bones. Keep duck meat and much of the fat clinging to it. You will need about 1 1/4 pounds of meat.
2. Take about 1/4 pound of breast meat and cut it into 6 strips, each one about 1/2 inch wide by 5 inches long. Place duck strips in Armagnac and marinate for 3 hours.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
4. Grind the remaining pound of duck meat through a meat grinder twice. Grind the cubed pork fat once and mix with the duck meat in a large bowl. Add the beaten egg, allspice, thyme, orange zest, saltpeter (if using), and salt and pepper. Sauté a small portion over moderately high heat and test for seasoning.
5. Line a 5-cup rectangular terrine on the bottom and sides with thin slices of fatback. Place half the duck mixture in the terrine. Make a decorative pattern on top of the duck mixture with the marinated duck strips, the apricots, and the foie gras strips. Top with the rest of the duck mixture. Cover with fatback slices. 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 160 degrees on a quick-read meat thermometer.
6. Allow to cool at room temperature for 1 hour. Then weight the terrine down with heavy cans or pie weights and refrigerate overnight. (The paté will taste even better if you hold it in the refrigerator for several days.)
Another type of pâtè we favor is smoother but with a good, chewy texture due to large chunks of marinated meat embedded in it; sometimes pâtè-makers add fruits and nuts as well. The following delicious pâtè brims with duck flavor, and gains a delicious, subtle sweetness from dried apricots. You can omit the nuggets of foie gras if you wish, but they add a silky excitement. Cut the foie gras and the strips of duck breast to meet the specifications of the terrine mold you're using. Serves 8 as a first course.