Monday, June 14, 2010

Daring Cook's Challenge: Pate and Baguettes

Blog-checking lines: Our hostesses this month, Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz, and Valerie of a The Chocolate Bunny, chose delicious pate with freshly baked bread as their June Daring Cook’s challenge! They’ve provided us with 4 different pate recipes to choose from and are allowing us to go wild with our homemade bread choice.
I have to admit that I wasn't too crazy about the prospect of making this Daring Cook's challenge. Don't get me wrong--I love liver, as I discussed in a previous post. It's just that I knew Nick wouldn't want to eat it and there was no way I was going to be able to eat a chicken liver terrine the size of a whole loaf of bread.
Luckily, the perfect opportunity to dispose of said loaf came along in the form of a family party. As I've said before, my family loves liver, so they were quite willing to dispatch a whole lot of liveriness, no matter that it looked and smelled like dog food. No, seriously. It did.

Happily, this little experiment tasted better than it smelled. I might even consider making it again, particularly because the leftovers (and I promise you that there will be leftovers) can be divided into smaller portions, frozen, and defrosted at any time. I might even take a less sucky picture of it.

So what would I not do next time? Forget the Cognac. As I was tasting for seasoning, I kept thinking "Hmmm...Something's missing, but I can't quite put my finger on what it might be." It wasn't until it had been taken out of the oven to cool that I realized my error. I think that the Cognac would have perfectly provided that missing Something, but that's just too bad.

You know what else I wouldn't do? Taste for seasoning and decide that it needs a bit more cloves. The finished product tasted overwhelmingly of cloves, although nobody else seemed to mind. Note to self: the seasonings are perfect. Do not mess with them.

Part of the challenge was to make baguettes to serve as the plate-to-mouth vehicle, although my brother dispensed with such niceties. I of course decided to make Jim Lahey's recipe, which I've previously discussed here, and a post with the recipe is in the works.

The result? Curiously underwhelming. Next time I'll probably stick with either his standard recipe or his ciabatta recipe. Nonetheless, like I've said before, this bread will still impress your friends and family and buy you some love.

Chicken Liver Terrine

Yields one 25 by 12,5 cm (10 by 5 inch) terrine or loaf pan
-1 tablespoon duck fat, or butter
-2 onions, coarsely chopped
-300g (11 oz) chicken livers, trimmed
-3 tablespoon brandy, or any other liqueur
-100g (3 1/2 oz, 1/2 cup) smoked bacon, diced
-300g (11 oz) boneless pork belly, minced
-200g (7 oz) ground pork-2 shallots, chopped

-1 teaspoon quatre-épices (or 1/4tsp each of ground pepper, cloves, nutmeg and ginger is close enough)
-2 eggs
-200 ml (7 fl oz, 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp) heavy cream
-2 fresh thyme sprigs, chopped
-Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Melt the fat or butter in a heavy frying pan over low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the chicken livers and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until browned but still slightly pink on the inside.
Remove the pan from heat. Pour in the brandy, light a match and carefully ignite the alcohol to flambé. Wait for the flames to go out on their own, carefully tilting the pan to ensure even flavoring. When the mixture has cooled slightly, transfer to a food processor and cop until finely minced.
Put the minced pork belly and ground pork in the food processor, then add the onion-liver mixture and the chopped shallots, and pulse until you obtain a homogenous mixture – make sure not to reduce it to a slurry.
Transfer to a bowl, and gradually stir in the chopped bacon, quatre-épices, cream, eggs, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper, and mix well. Spoon the mixture into a terrine or loaf pan, and cover with the terrine lid or with aluminum foil.
Prepare a water bath: place the loaf pan in a larger, deep ovenproof dish (such as a brownie pan or a baking dish). Bring some water to a simmer and carefully pour it in the larger dish. The water should reach approximately halfway up the loaf pan.
Put the water bath and the loaf pan in the oven, and bake for 2 hours. Uncover and bake for another 30 minutes. The terrine should be cooked through, and you should be able to slice into it with a knife and leave a mark, but it shouldn’t be too dry. Refrigerate, as this pâté needs to be served cold. Unmold onto a serving platter, cut into slices, and serve with bread.
NOTE: This pâté freezes well. Divide it into manageable portions, wrap tightly in plastic film, put in a freezer Ziploc bag, and freeze. Defrost overnight in the fridge before eating.

By the way--this guy was for another meal, but I'm wondering if maybe some people out there have some answers for me.
I seasoned him with some salt and pepper and stuffed him with some herbs (summer savory, oregano, and epazote) and lemon, brushed him with some oil, and attempted to grill him.

The meat was properly cooked and ultimately edible, but my problem was the skin sticking to the grill grates. I oiled the fish, which was apparently not the solution. Does anyone know how to prevent this? My other problem is a recurring one--the fish tasted a bit like propane. I don't have this problem with meats, just fish. Again--why? Help!


Maranda said...

I'm so glad your pate turned out well and you found some willing eaters to help you dispose of it!

As far as the fish goes, I've heard that oiling the actual grill rack can help the fish to not stick to it. If you take a oiled cloth and rub it on the hot grill that's supposed to help. Have you tried grilling planks to help prevent the propane flavor??

Cheap Ethnic Eatz said...

Lesson learn...never turn down booze lol. Seriously great job but sorry the bread was not to your satisfaction. Thanks for participating in our challenge.

Anonymous said...

Great photos. As for the taste of propane, that is strange. I am thinking a burned out element or a faulty regulator that is allowing some of the propane to escape into the grill unburned.

As for sticking, I always make sure the grates are super hot when I put the fish on. You can turn down the heat after but that helps in allowing the skin to release. Also don't mess with the fish. Most fish will release only when they are ready to flip.