Pâté is kind of like caviar: You always hear about rich people eating it, but it sounds gross and you’re not sure if it’s any good or even what it actually tastes like.
Pâté is often special occasion appetizer, served with a variety of crudités and accompanied by a kir or rum punch. There are many varieties of pâté in France. They are usually made from different minced meats (liver is often an ingredient), spices, vegetables and wine and cooked either en croûte (in a bread crust), en terrine (in a terracotta mold) or surrounded by a layer of fat. It usually has a spreadable consistency, though is sometimes more coarse, and is eaten on toast or with a hunk of bread. You’ll often see it garnished with fruit and/or little cornichons (pickles). When made well, pâté has a rich flavor, is perfectly spiced and while it won’t unclog those arteries, it tastes delicious.
Some of my favorite French pâtés:
Foie Gras- The superstar of pâtés, this is a specialty of southwestern France and is made from fattened goose liver. It is a French delicacy and can be served in various forms, but always has a rich, buttery and delicate flavor. It may sound unappetizing, but trust me, this stuff is really good. Pair it with Champagne or a sweet white wine, and you’ll be in heaven.
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Rillettes- Traditionally made with pork (though you’ll find rillettes made with other meats as well), rillettes are prepared by cooking the cubed and salted meat in fat and then forming it into a paste as it cools. The final product usually has a rich texture and bronze color with a complex flavor. It is usually served cold on toast or bread. A great treat.
Pâté de Campagne- Imagine a meatloaf that is moist, tender, flavorful, melts in your mouth and tastes 100% better than your grandma’s, and you’ve got pâté de campagne. It translates literally as “country” pâté and every chacuetrie will have its own recipe. This rustic pâté is usually made with a combination of pork shoulder and chicken liver, and is slowly cooked with wine and wide variety of spices including salt, pepper, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, onions and whatever else the chef wants to toss in there.
Pâté en Croûte: This can be pretty much any type of pâté cooked into a delicious crust, then sliced. It is served both hot and cold. Delicious pâté and flaky crust all rolled into one? Jackpot.
Want more French foodie information? Check out these links: