Tuesday, February 19, 2013

French blog failure

Bonjour mes amies. Je suis un failure. 

Local architecture

Remember in my last post I was going to blog from a french kitchen in Les Carroz?
Well, I totally underestimated the time I would be busy by, let's say, about 1,000 times. That, and a certain small person who kept stealing my i-pad to play games with his new friends.

0 blogs.

I didn't even get time to photograph the many dinners produced, so I will endeavor to recreate in later blogs, some of the amazing food my friend Nick has been making for his guests over the years.
However, I am going to start by giving you my Paté recipe and process. 
Why you ask? I know you didn't ask, but I'll tell you anyway. 
On one sunny afternoon after the lunch and dinner prep was done, I asked my son if he would like to come skiing with me for an hour. The alternative was playing with a very cute blond girl........... So, I went for a walk with my camera to take some pictures of the local buildings and general ambiance.

I had no chance

 I stopped off at one of the many cafés for a glass of wine, and decided to try a local dish. I ordered the Pork Paté, and was excited when it arrived. The presentation was wonderful, but when I bit into it, it had no taste. WTF!

The disappointing lunch
The toast had more taste for Christ's sake.

I'm not quite sure how they managed to do that, but it was beyond bland.
I left it unfinished and paid my bill.

Hence the Paté recipe here, which I can assure you has plenty of taste.

Smear on crusty bread.... Yum scrum pigs bum!
I love Chicken Liver Paté, but my wife not so much. She has the typical American aversion to all things offal. So, to avoid making stuff that only the boys will eat (me and my son), I cut this recipe with a bit of boneless pork rib. If you have no such aversion, leave out the pork for a richer result.

Trimmed and washed livers
Boneless pork rib (1/2 lb)

I rinse off the chicken livers (2 tubs) in a sieve and trim off all excess sinew. I also check for bile (dark green) that has not already been trimmed off. It doesn't enhance the flavor much.

While this is draining, I finely chop some shallots and saute them in half a stick of butter, until a nut brown color is achieved. I spoon the onions out of the pan and set it aside. 
onions just turning nut colored

Add the washed and trimmed livers and the pork (cut into small pieces) to the remaining butter in the pan and cook over a medium heat. You don't need to brown the meat, so careful with the heat. While the livers are still pink in the middle, I add some garlic, salt and black pepper, and whatever wine I have left from the night before. In this case, it is Viognier, but you can add Sherry, Madeira or red wine if you want to. I also add a slug of cooking Brandy for good measure.
Cook for 5 minutes, then remove the meat with a slotted spoon and reduce the liquor by half. Add all ingredients back into the pan, including the other half stick of butter and stir together. If you can drag a spoon over the bottom of the pan and the liquid is slow to flow back, it is ready for the blender. 

Reduction completed

I add an egg yolk at this point and a 3rd of a cup of cream, then switch on the bender and stand well back.
Blend until smooth, then adjust the seasoning if necessary (more brandy). If you want a really smooth Paté, you can then pass this mixture through a sieve. I don't.
While the livers are cooking, line your molds with streaky bacon. 

Bacon lined molds

Once blended, pour the mixture into the molds and fold over the bacon. These are now ready to set in a water bath, with the water coming half way up the molds. I cover each mold with aluminum/aluminium foil, or a flat tray if non available, just to stop the top from drying out. Cook in a pre heated oven at 300 or the equivalent gas mark (look it up) for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack until warm, and then place in the fridge, or in my case, out on the deck as it is colder there.

Ready to cool

You might have to run the mold under hot water to release the pate, then turn out onto a board or plated to serve.

Crusty bread is a must. I like to sprinkle lemon juice on mine, and have a few Cornichons to crunch on too.
It is easy, and well worth the effort.