Whatever happened to pâté on the menu?
In my youth, it was always a starter option. It usually came with a single lettuce leaf that was limper than Larry Grayson’s wrist (it was the 1970s), a small cornichon (or gherkins as we called them then), a large piece of butter and some crusty bread.
It was a safe choice. The prawn cocktails were all too often all iceberg and no prawn, while the soup of the day was usually something brown that had been reheated more times than the Brexit debate.
I loved it, pâté was something we never had at home, and mixing butter and pâté was delightful, especially with the vinegar bite coming from the cornichons.
When I got older and went to France quite often as part of my degree studies, I would always buy far too much pâté; that was because the French shops used to laugh openly when I tried to buy a tiny Anglais-size portion, so I’d end up with half a kilo at least.
I’d happily eat it on my picnics and get back to my rooms, with the sizeable remains breaking down horribly from their hours in the sun, and feeling a bit queasy after my own time in the sun lubricated by bottles of cheap plonk.
‘Pâté, confit, rillettes’. I would reverently murmur these words like a mystic incantation as I gazed in happy indecision at all those meat counters d’Antan.
I never thought I’d ever make it myself, but this book has me fired up to try.
The authors of Charcuterie and Salumi have done it again. Revisiting the culinary craft that turns what are, to be honest, scraps of meat into gold. That’s what pâté, confit and rillettes has always been about.
Chapters on making foie gras (I don’t judge), pâtés with crusts, fabulous confits, rillettes (my favourite) and some charcuterie specialities that even stretching out as far as China for crispy pork belly.
Although the authors are American, it has been edited to include both ounces and grammes, which makes life a lot easier.
There is a technical skill to making a lot of these, but the teaching is clear.
It starts with the basic principles and recipes include chicken terrine studded with sautéed mushrooms and bright green herbs; modern rillettes of shredded salmon and whitefish, classic confits of duck and goose and a vegetarian layered potato terrine.
There are few pictures, but this kind of book is aimed at the home chef who has moved beyond the basics.
Now where’s my baguette?
Buy now at Amazon