Country Paté with Pistachios and Portobello


Making paté is inexpensive and it's a good way to make use of organs like liver and to use up scraps of meat. Serve it as an appetizer or atop a salad for a main course.

The method is not difficult, but it does take some time before it's ready to eat, as you must allow it to rest in the fridge before baking and again afterward, before you serve it. It will keep in the fridge for a week or more, so it's a great thing to make in advance for dinner parties, pack for lunch, or have on hand for a quick and easy snack or meal.

This paté de campagne, or country paté, is full of traditional ingredients like shallot and cognac, but my method is not traditional. I made mine grain-free by eliminating the panade, a mixture of starch (often white bread) and liquid commonly used to bind everything together. A couple of eggs did the job just fine.

Also, terrines are usually lined with plastic wrap to facilitate an easy removal, but I want to avoid cooking in plastic to prevent dangerous chemicals from migrating into my food. So instead I greased my mold with butter before I baked the paté, and used a warm water bath to loosen it before unmolding.

Like the paté I made last spring, this version contains pasture-raised chicken livers. But unlike last year's paté, it also contains ground pork and cream instead of butter, and I've added some internal garnishes. Tucked inside and revealed in cross section, portobelllo and pistachios add flavor, color and texture.

I made this paté with my food processor but you could use a meat grinder instead. If you do, the texture of your paté will be more coarse, which is very much in the style of paté de campagne, and it will be equally delicious.

  • 1 medium portobello mushroom cap
  • Extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressing
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground peppercorn
  • 2/3 pound livers from pastured-raised chickens
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallot (1 small)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 2 large eggs from pasture-raised chickens
  • 1/4 cream from pasture-raised cows
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground peppercorn
  • 1 teaspoon Five Herb Seasoning or ground dried rosemary or thyme
  • Pinch allspice
  • 2/3 pound ground pasture-raised pork
  • 1/4 cup raw pistachios

Step One:  Preparing and Chilling
Before you mix the paté, all ingredients must be chilled, so start by broiling the portobello and cooking the chicken livers. Also place your food processor bowl, metal blade, and cover in the freezer to chill.
  • For the portobello:
  1. Preheat the broiler. 
  2. Wipe clean the portobello mushroom cap and place it gill-side up in a shallow baking dish. Drizzle it with olive oil and season it with salt and pepper. Broil it until crispy on top, about 5 to 7 minutes. 
  3. Set it aside to cool, then transfer it to the fridge.

  • For the livers:
  1. Rinse and dry the livers. Trim away any connective tissue and season them with salt and pepper. 
  2. Warm a tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Once it melts, add the chicken livers and allow them only to brown, not to cook through. Once browned on both sides, about 5 minutes total, transfer them to a bowl to cool. Do not overcook. 
  3. Add the shallots and a bit more butter, if needed, to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking until the shallots start to brown. Add the garlic and stir until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the cognac and stir to incorporate any brown bits on the bottom of the pan into the sauce. Cook until thickened and reduced by half, just a few minutes more. Pour the sauce over the chicken livers. Once cool, transfer them to the fridge to chill.
Step Two:  Mixing and Curing
  1. Butter the inside of a 3-cup (0.8 liter) terrine or loaf pan. 
  2. Once the chicken livers and broiled portobello are thoroughly chilled, cut 4 or 5 long slices from the center of the portobello and set them aside for an internal garnish. Roughly chop the rest of the mushroom and reserve any juices.
  3. Remove the food processor parts from the freezer and assemble them. 
  4. Add the chopped portobello and any reserved juices along with the eggs, cream, peppercorn, Five Herb Seasoning, chicken livers with shallots and cognac, and 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Purée the mixture until smooth. Add the (raw) ground pork to the food processor, breaking it up as you drop it in. Cover and pulse until the meat is well-combined with the other ingredients and the mixture is sticky.
  5. Warm a small amount of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add a spoonful of the paté mixture, flatten it, and cook it through. Taste it for seasoning and adjust the uncooked mixture as needed. Cook and taste again if necessary.
  6. Once you are satisfied with the seasoning, press 1/3 of the paté mixture into the bottom of the buttered terrine. Arrange the pistachios in a single layer on top. Add another 1/3 of the paté mixture, making another layer over the pistachios. Press down firmly to fill in any air pockets. Arrange the portobello slices in a single layer. Cover the sliced portobello with the remaining paté mixture. Again, press down firmly, and level the top. 
  7. Cover the terrine and transfer it to the fridge. Allow it to cure for 48 to 72 hours.

Step Three:  Baking
  1. Preheat the oven to 325F and prepare a kettle of boiling water. 
  2. Make a hot water bath for the paté-filled terrine by placing it inside a larger baking dish and pouring boiling water in the gap between the two. Take great care to not pour any water into the paté-filled terrine. Transfer it to the hot oven and bake until a thermometer inserted into the center reads 160F, about an hour and a half. Do not overcook.
  3. Remove the terrine from the oven, cover the paté with a weight (1 to 2 pounds), and allow it to cool. The weight should cover as much of the paté as possible yet be small enough to sink down inside the terrine as the paté cools and shrinks. Once it has cooled to room temperature, cover the terrine and transfer it (with the weight) to the fridge. Allow it to sit overnight before serving.

Step Four:  Serving 
Once the paté has rested again overnight, it can be served from the terrine or unmolded onto a plate.
  • To unmold:
  1. Place the terrine in a shallow sauce pan filled with an inch of water and warm it over low heat for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the terrine from the water bath. Use a knife to loosen the sides. Use a rubber scraper to apply pressure to the sides of the paté and loosen the bottom. Turn the terrine over onto a plate and allow it to fall down onto the plate. This may take a few minutes. If does not fall down, return the terrine to the warm water bath and heat it a bit more before trying again. 
Once the paté has been unmolded, use a sharp knife to carefully cut individual slices.
Serve this rich paté with a crisp salad and a sharp vinaigrette. I made a simple one with red wine vinegar, grated garlic, Dijon mustard, extra virgin olive oil and freshly ground peppercorn. I tossed it with some greens (and purples) from the farmers' market and served it cornichons (small French pickles). If you don't have cornichons (find them at Trader Joe's) you can substitute any pickled vegetable.