Duck Paté

Duck pate with chanterelle mushrooms.

Duck pate with chanterelle mushrooms.

Sarah and I attended a fabulously fun wine potluck last night at the home of friends Wendy and John in “lower, lower Piedmont,” which is to say, not Piedmont, and not quite Trestle Glen. Whatever all that means, I don’t know. But the house, and the party, were wonderful. Thanks guys!

I had trouble finding something to make, in part because I spent so much time looking for a great recipe I made for a potluck a couple years back. Frustrated, I finally just decided to make paté, which I often do for wine things. It just works well. Only this time, instead of chicken, I thought I’d make something closer to paté de foie gras, with actual duck liver.

So I braved a shopping trip to North Berkeley’s Hopkins shopping area, despite the fact that the time had slipped late into the busiest part of the shopping day. Parking is notoriously difficult, and navigating the narrow isles of the market is nearly impossible once the place gets busy. But it’s all worth the trouble.

First, I picked up a pound and a quarter of duck livers at one of my favorite food shops, Magnani’s. I thought about getting a hind quarter to throw in as well, but it seemed like it would be too much. And I was interested in getting a pretty smooth result, for which the liver on its own is well suited. Note that these are regular duck livers, not force-fed.

After that, I went to Monterey Market to see what there was mushroom-wise for my concoction. As usual, I ended up with a bunch of stuff I didn’t need, but that I hope we’ll get around to eating this week, like beautiful spring onions and green garlic from Full Belly Farm, and a beautiful organic celeriac. I know, “beautiful celeriac” sounds like a contradiction in terms, but everything’s relative, and this one was surprisingly clean and free of tangled roots, bumps and divots. I checked on the truffles, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to spend $12 on a single small shroom. So, instead I settled on a half pound of California chanterelles.

Finally, I doubled-back into the Country Cheese Coffee Market for no good reason, other than that I can’t pass up a chance to buy some good cheeses. I did hold back this time and picked up only one thing, some wonderful French sheep’s milk feta on sale. And an Americano to go. And a dark chocolate bar. Yumm!

Anyway, after all the recipe hunting and shopping, I went home to start cooking. Once I did, I realized the problem would be that there was not enough to time for the pate to set a good six hours before the party. But it was too late to turn back. So, once it was done I placed it in the freezer for awhile to get it chilled and set. I was worried about it, but it went over quite well and several people asked how to make it. Here was my approach to making this one.

  • 1 stick butter, cut up into ½ inch pieces and spread out on a plate and placed in freezer.

In a saucepan place

  • 1 or 2 celery tops–about ⅓ of  cup worth
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups water or so, enough to cover the livers

Bring to a boil. Turn down to simmer. Add:

  • 1.25 lbs duck liver

Simmer gently 10 minutes. Do not overcook.
Heat up a saute pan over medium heat and add:

  • 2 Tbl butter
  • ½ cup chopped shallots
  • 1.5 tsps herb de provence

Saute, stirring, about 5 minutes, then add:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Saute another two mintues, add:

  • big splash cognac or brandy

Cook for two or three more minutes.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the duck livers to a food processor fitted with the steel blade, discarding everything else in there. Then add the sauteed shallots et al, and:

  • 1 tsp salt
  • a healthy grinding of black pepper

In the saute pan, melt another:

  • 1 Tbl butter

Then add:

  • 6-8 oz chanterrelle mushrooms sliced.
Saute about 6 to 8 minutes until soft and releasing their liquid. You could splash in some more cognac just for the fun of it. I did. When that is mostly evaporated, remove from heat and set aside to let cool.
In the meantime, begin processing all the ingredients in the processor. Just set the switch to “on”. Get the butter from the freezer and, with the motor running, add the pieces one a time through the feed tube. When all the butter is incorporated, open the top and add the mushrooms. Process again with the mushrooms, but not too much, so they are in small bits. I over did it, and they blended in to the smooth texture, which was OK, too.

Pour into a crock or other container, smooth the top and cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate several hours until it sets and the flavors blend. Remove from fridge and allow to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes, before serving.

Let me know how it goes.