Both rustic and refined, Pâté de Campagne, or country pâté, could be called the cornerstone of charcuterie. Every chef worth their salt has his or hers own take on this French classic. Pâté de Campagne’s humble beginnings can be traced back to medieval Europe, when it was common to cook a farce of chopped meats, fat and seasoning inside a pastry crust or fat-lined earthenware dish. Throughout the centuries French cooks have refined the preparation of pâtés and terrines. Pâté de Campagne takes many forms. At its core it is a mixture of ground meats; pork and veal are classic, occasionally with ham, or as in this recipe, bacon — and always with liver. Unlike a liver pâté, Pâté de Campagne uses liver as a flavouring, not the focus. Meats are typically chopped, or ground with a meat grinder, for the characteristic coarse texture of a country pâté. Spices often include garlic, thyme, cloves, nutmeg, mace, ginger, coriander, cinnamon and white or black pepper, and more. Interior garnishes are also common; examples being nuts, like walnuts or pistachios; dried fruits like cherries, figs or apricots; or the classic and coveted truffle. Pâté de Campagne is served cold, allowing a day to fully set and develop flavour, with cornichons and a good dijon mustard or chutney being typical accoutrements and also a French baguette — you simply cannot serve a Campagne without a proper baguette. Bon appétit!
Chicken livers are marinated in cognac, fresh thyme, a bay leaf and pepper for 3 hours
All but 2 of the cognac-marinated chicken livers are finely chopped
The cognac marinade is reserved in a bowl
The ground pork, veal, pork fat and chopped chicken livers are mixed together in a large bowl
The reserved cognac is added to the mixture and seasoned with salt and pepper
The mixture is beaten with a wooden spoon until well combined
A terrine is lined with thinly sliced bacon
Half of the ground meat is spread into the terrine
The reserved chicken livers are placed in the middle of the terrine
The remaining ground meat is spread overtop
A final layer of sliced bacon is laid overtop of the terrine, which is then baked in a water bath at 350°F for about an hour, at which point it's weighted down and refrigerated for 1 to 2 days before serving
Rustic Pâté de Campagne with Cognac
1/2 lb chicken livers
1/4 cup cognac
1 bay leaf
7 oz lean ground pork
1/2 lb pork fat
7 oz ground veal
1/2 lb sliced bacon
salt and pepper
In a medium bowl, combine the livers with the cognac, thyme, bay leaf and season with ground pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate 2-3 hours, then drain, reserving the cognac.
Cut 2 of the livers into large pieces and chop the rest. In a large bowl, beat the pork, veal, pork fat, chopped livers and reserved cognac with a wooden spoon, and season with salt and pepper. Cook a small piece of the mixture in a sauté pan and taste. Add salt and pepper to the remaining meat if necessary.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a terrine with sliced bacon, reserving some for the top. Spread half of the ground meat mixture in the terrine, pressing it down quite firmly. Then lay in the large pieces of liver and cover with the remaining ground meat. Lay the remaining sliced bacon overtop and cover with the lid.
Set the terrine in a roasting pan and fill with hot water to come up half way up the sides of the terrine, and bake for one hour.
Remove the terrine from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Remove the lid, wrap the terrine in cling film and press the paté with weights, such as tins of tomatoes, until cooled. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 days before serving.
To serve, arrange slices of paté on small plates garnished with toasted baguette, cornichons, a sprig of parsley and perhaps some homemade chutney.