My dear, poor, non-French people,
Some secrets are the hardest to break. Family secrets above all.
There are plenty in my family, many cadavres dans le placard (and other skeletons in the closet that every French and perfect family has to have), but I must tell you the hardest for me to crack was this one.
La recette du paté de mamie Georgine.
My grand-mother is a great cook. I’ve already written about her, and about my other grand-mother Laurence, whose bûche de Noël, pain d’épices and other rondiaux recipes are still legends in her village, 10 years after she passed away.
Mamie Georgine is the kind of grand-mother who hates to see you go without any of her production.
She must think we can’t eat by ourselves when she’s not around, and each time I visit her I have to leave with tons of cakes, jams, and paté she makes just for us.
Oui, she’s 85, and yes, she still does that.
Her paté is the best I ever ate, and I must tell you proudly that it won many awards amid my college friends, when we would meet after a big holidays and make huge contests with all the pâtés our grand mothers made for us.
I’ve kept asking her the recipe, bus strangely, my grand-mother, who never forgets when I’m coming and what I would like to eat best, always fails to remember to send it…
It wasn’t until I was 30 et des poussieres (and some dust, for all the additional years you don’t want to count) that I cracked the code.Living in LA, it was hard for me to come back and get my pâté fix as soon as I would have loved too… And I explained to her that it was even more difficult considering the fact that there’s no good insutrial pâté here.
Quoi? Her petite-fille, lost in the USA without pâté?
She sent me the recipe right away
Now, the quest was not over, oh non…
Mostly because after more than half a century cooking it, my mamie is now making her pâté “au pif” (with the nose, the instinct) and couldn’t tell me what the exact proportions were.
And then, I had to translate the ingredients!
Which is the most difficult when it comes to meat recipes, as beefs and pigs are not cut the same in the US.
It’s been an adventure, every time I go to the butcher, to try and explain what part of the animal I’m looking for.
There I was, showing my neck at the farmer’s market to the butcher, trying to explain I was looking for gorges de porc, a part of the pork which is around its neck, and is at the same time tasty and fatty…
So it took me time, my poor non French people, but I must say I did it, and more precisely, I did it my way…
Just baked this paté maison for a big party we just had to celebrate our three years in the US, and all I can say is…. Nothing is left! (and even the French friends were impressed!)
Le pâté maison
3 pounds sausage meat
1 pound pork belly
1/2 a pound beef liver
2 full tablespoons salt
1 full tablespoon Espelette pepper
Thyme, Laurel, and all the fresh herbs you can find.
Pâté is really a big part of French cuisine. It’s a peasant dish, because it was a great way for farmers to have an on-the-go meal to bring when they were on the field. Just need some bread and a tin of sterilized paté, and you have the best sandwich in the world.
As most of charcuterie, it was also a great way to use and keep all the food there is on a pig.
“Tout est bon dans le cochon”, all is good in the pig, as French people say, and my father always told me that when they killed the pig at his parent’s farm, nothing was left.
Everything was used, cooked, cured, and sterilized. In a world where fridge and freezer were two SciFi words, sterilized paté was the best way to eat a year of the pig you killed…
Now cochonailles (pig things) are mainly an aperitif delight.
You have some after work with your friends and a good glass of Saint Julien, or at lunch for an appetizer. Or at brunch. Or just like this. Pour le plaisir !
- Cut the pork belly and the liver in small pieces, and mix them in a blender
- Add the shalots in the blender
- Then the sausage meat.
This recipe is for 2 pâtés, and the proportions might be too big for your mixer, so don’t hesitate to divide the proportions by 2.
Now the big thing is how you spice it.
My grand mother wrote to be very careful with the salt: it’s one full tablespoon for two pounds.
I like adding the fresh herbs she uses (thyme, rosemary, marjoram)
But I also have my little spicy touch. I add my beloved piment d’espelette.
Love these peppers, they are the best to add flavour, and sexiness to a didh without being too hot…
- Preheat the oven at 360F
- Mix everything
- Put in a rectangular dish
- Add bay leaves and fresh thymes on the top
- Cook in bain-marie mode : fill a much larger dish with water, and put the rectangular dish inside.
- Leave for 90 minutes
You’ll notice that the meat shrinks, and the fat gets out… It looks a little gross, but it’s better! Less fat!
Then the best thing is to let it cool, and put it in the fridge for at least 2 days. This way the flavours and spices really have time to mingle and express the best of themselves…
Now you just need a great loaf of bread and some cornichons, our awesome French pickles…
Oh, and try singing the Nino Ferrer Cornichons song at the same time, if you dare !
Bon appétit les amis!