For centuries, pâtés have been one of the greatest vehicles for wild game. But making a pâté, which is nothing more than a meatloaf, has tended to be a laborious task, with ingredient lists as long as a shotgun barrel. This one, from Boston-based chef Jamie Bissonnette (Coppa and Toro), breaks that mold. The key to its simplicity, says Bissonnette, is beer, which “provides and even dictates the flavor of the terrine.” That means you should use the best beer you can find (see sidebar). The recipe is written for rabbit, but upland birds will work spectacularly well. Pink curing salt (available from specialty grocers) gives the pâté an appetizingly rosy color, but you can use kosher or sea salt.
What You Will Need
Yield: Two small or one large pâté
• 2 lb. boneless rabbit meat, diced to 1⁄2-inch cubes
• 4 oz. rabbit kidneys (or mix of rabbit organ meats and/or chicken livers), diced to 1⁄2-inch cubes
• 1 lb. pork belly, diced to 1⁄2-inch cubes
• 3 bay leaves
• 2 sprigs thyme
• 1 tsp. chopped tarragon
• 1 tsp. pink curing salt (or kosher salt)
• 1 1⁄4 cups beer
• 20 thin slices Serrano ham
• Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
A day before you’ll serve the pâté, mix all the meats together with bay leaves, thyme sprigs, tarragon, pink salt, and beer. Cover and refrigerate overnight. This is also a good time to place any metal parts from your meat grinder, and a bowl as well, in the freezer to thoroughly chill.
Remove the bay leaves and sprigs of thyme, setting them aside for later use. Set up the meat grinder and grind the mixture of meat into the chilled bowl, keeping it as cold as possible throughout. (If you don’t have a meat grinder, you can also pulse the meat, in batches, in a food processor.) Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
To check the seasoning, heat some canola oil in a small sauté pan and fry a bite-size chunk of the mixture until cooked through. Adjust with more salt as desired.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the bay leaves and sprigs of thyme in the bottom of a terrine mold or a standard loaf pan. Line the mold with the ham, over the herbs, leaving enough ham hanging over the edges to cover the top of the pâté. Fill with the meat mixture, then bang the terrine mold on a table to remove any air. Fold the ham over to cover the pâté. Put the terrine cover on, or wrap with foil.
Bring about 2 quarts of water to a boil. Pour the hot water into a deep casserole pan large enough to hold the terrine mold. Put the mold in; the water should come about 2 inches up the side.
Bake for 60 minutes, or until a meat thermometer poked into the middle registers 160 degrees. Remove from the oven, and place the terrine mold on a towel or other safe surface to cool to room temperature.
You only need 11⁄4 cups of beer to make this pâté, which means you’ll have plenty left over. That’s good, because whatever beer you use is the perfect beverage to accompany the pâté. For a satisfying splurge, try the Hitachino Nest White Ale from Japan’s Kiuchi Brewery. Other great witbier-style beers to explore: Allagash White from Maine or Troublette from Belgium’s Brasserie Caracole.