Another Day with Fatback and Patés

Dealing with pork fat yet again (see here).

Trying to combine about 4 recipes from both Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn’s book “Charcuterie” to make some Patés and Terrines. I’ve never cooked meat in this manner before (slow cooking in a container of water as opposed to baking) so it’s going to be a bit of a challenge but I’m always willing to try something new. Why am I doing this? I have the ingredients already and I want to make something that we can eat over the course of a week, and this should last just fine in the refrigerator for at least a week. These are some of the concerns you face when you have a family to feed.

Step one, hammer out some back fat to line the loaf pan/”terrine”. How exactly am I to get “thin slices” of this as I’ve been instructed?

Keep it in the fridge. That’s the first thing. But how to cut it? A sharp knife seems to be the best technique, and then pound out the pieces between wax paper, lining them up next to each other, sort of overlapping the sides and joining them together if necessary. They’re easier to cut when the fat is cold, but easier to pound when warmed to room temperature. But it’s back in the fridge to chill again until it’s ready to be used. Again, I’m winging it here. One book says to line your pans with thin slices of lard, another says to use plastic wrap. I go with fat back.

Still have a lot of grinding to do. Recommended fat to meat ratio is 30%. Ground meat is in the fridge, staying cold. Time to prep the pistachios, liver, the panade (in this case: flour, wine, 2 eggs & cream) and fat and mix carefully.

So now I can lay it all out in the pan. Some of the mixture first on the bottom of the “terrine”, then line up a small piece of pork tenderloin and continue with more of the ground mixture on top. In the end this should give us a nice pice of meat in the middle, gently scattered with bits of liver and pistachios which is a nice contrast not only in texture but also visually.

Since I’ve used fat as the pan lining, I thought it would ok to continue in this vein…

Now cook, partly submerged in warm water. Once again the cooking times and temperatures varied between books so I guessed my way through it. I think it was about an hour (maybe a bit more) at 300F/150C. Then this comes out:

I’d already cut a piece of wood I found in the closet and wrapped it in plastic and foil. You can just see it in back. I’ll place it on top and weight it down and let it sit in the fridge until tomorrow. This will hopefully get rid of any air pockets that might be lurking in the meat.

And whammo, one day later:

What it lacks in appearance (definitely homemade and you can see that it’s not perfectly squared off around the edges due to some of the slices of fat pressing in from the side) it more than makes up for in taste and texture, though I think that next time I will leave out the livers, it was overkill. Now if only it were easier to find real Dijon mustard in Prague.


Though the fat has come from a local butcher, all of the meat that will go into it will be from a sustainable, bio/eco etc “grass-farmer” just outside of Prague called Bohemiae Rosa. Good guy, great tours and wonderful food.


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