Sampling the true French pate

As a person who cannot resist a gastronomical treat, I was delighted when the Citizen asked me to attend a pate and wine-tasting party with photographer Carla Anderson at Ste. Michelle Winery. The brochure was filled with black and white and color photographs of the pates. The brochure described these as among the best.

After undertaking the task of baking a French terrine and other pates in my French cooking lessons. Immediately my mouth begin to water. As I knew of the pleasing taste of a fresh and flavorful pate.

Pates have been baked in France since the Middle ages. The centuries old method of day-long baking preserving themselves in their own juices and natural seasoning using spices as a preservative not chemicals. For those of you who are not familiar with pates they come in several shapes and contain a variety of ingredients.

The basic element is the liver of either goose, duck or chicken. Seasonings can be simple or exotic.
Aspic, pistachios, truffles, cognac, ham, venison and pork are often used to create texture and flavors. When meat is baked in an earthenware casserole lined with pork fat, it is a Terrine. When baked in a crust or encroute, it becomes a Pate.

Greeting us at the door of the MacBride mansion on the Ste. Michelle grounds was Bob Betz, an executive with Ste. Michelle who introduced us to Gretchen Dahm, head of her own advertising and public relations firm in New York City.

A petite attractive woman with enormous glasses and fashionable attire, she explained that what we were about to experience was from America’s first charcuterie.

“A French charcuterie,”Dahm” explained, “is a shop that literally is a pork butchery. The French word ‘charcuterie’ is derived from chair (meat)and cuit (cooked)refers to both an entire gamut of pork products and to a shop where they are prepared. Using mainly pork meat but also liver, poultry and game. The talented charcutier concocts many types of pates, terrines, sausages and other meat products.”

Gretchen told us that Alain Sinturel, one of the owners of Les Trois Petits Cochons. “Any French village has at least one charcuterie and that is who we will be meeting today, Alain Sinturel, one of the owners of Les Trois Petits Cochons (“The three little Pigs”)in New York” city.

Alain and Jean Pierre Pradie are two young Frenchmen who in 1975 opened their charcuterie in Greenwich Village. They specialize in French pates created from original recipes that have been handed down from three generations of French chefs and charcuteries.

We made our way into the kitchen of the mansion where Alain Sintuel was slicing one of several pates on a butcher block table. As he chopped a bit of parsley to garnish a platter that I later learned held a Pate’de Canard a l’Orange, laced with Grand Marnier and dotted with pistachio nuts, the young chef seemed to be painting a picture, he was so totally absorbed.

One thing that Alain said that I understood in his thick French accent was that his pates could easily become an addiction. Oh how right he was!

Four pates were severed beginning with Pate DE Canard a L’Orange accompanied by Ste. Michelle Chardonnay.
Next my favorite Mousse de Foie de Canard au Porto, a soft creamy pate flavored with port wine and served in its own baking dish.

This pate which was spread on thin slice of French bread was accompanied by a Fume Blanc wine.
Ste Michelle, Merlot was just the right touch with the Pate au Poivre Vert spiced with whole green peppercorns and Cognac.

Last but not least, Pate de Champagne the traditional country pate is said to be the favorite of Americans. Served with Cabernet Sauvignon. Delicious!

At each table was a bowl of miniature pickles. It is a very pungent, sour pickle! Gretchen laughed and told us to nibble the cornichon rather than eat it whole. She also added that because of the richness and flavors of pate a touch of sour sets it all beautifully.

Jars of cornichons can be purchased from food specialty stores. And the pates of Les Trois Cochons can be found at specialty food shops in the area. Including Stromboli’s in Redmond and Goodwife Deli in Lake Forest Park. The approximate cost is $6.95 well worth the price and the calories to tempt your tastebuds with this unique pleasure
Pates serve as a pleasant punctuation mark to any event!

Alan Sinturel’s recipe for Pate de Canard a l’Orange makes one loaf about 9 ½ x 5 ½.

After the ingredient there are 18 steps before the pate is ready to consume.

If anyone is interested in the final 18 steps I would be happy to mail a copy.

1 duck about 51/2 pounds
1 pound lean pork shoulder, cut into chunks
1 ½ pounds of pork fatback, cut into chunks
1 pound duck livers (or substitute chicken livers)
3 ounces (6 Tablespoons) Grand Marnier
1 small onion, peel left on. Chopped roughly
1 carrot, chopped roughly
1 rib of celery, chopped roughly
3 peppercorns
Pinch of thyme
1 ounce can of truffle peelings (if available) or 1-ounce truffle
1 orange (or more, if needed for garnishing)
1 ½ Tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon quatre epics blend (or substitute several grinds of pepper, plus ¼ teaspoon each of ground nutmeg ginger and cloves)
4 slices of pork fatback, about 2 ½ inches wide and slightly longer than the length of your loaf pan
½ pound caul fat (netting) available at pork butchers or substitute additional thinly sliced fatback.
1 ½ cups chicken stock, if needed (see directions below)
2 tablespoon Grand Marnier
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
2 egg whites
2 eggshells crushed
Green of 1 or 2 scallions chopped (optional)