By Elizabeth Gawthrop Riely This duck pâté makes a beautiful first course or party appetizer. The duck skin on top moistens and flavors everything as it cooks, much as strips of bacon or lard do on a pork pâté. Be sure to present this alongside greens and little pickled vegetables or chutney, for brightness and piquancy. You can make this ahead and freeze it, well wrapped, allowing it to thaw completely before serving.
Depending on how you serve it, this pate can serve as many as 20, or even more if you cut each slice in half.
INGREDIENTS 2 skin-on duck breasts 1 tablespoon butter 2 shallots, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced ¾ pound coarsely ground veal (or turkey) ¾ pound coarsely ground pork 1½ teaspoons dried thyme 1 tablespoon salt 2 tablespoons green peppercorns, well drained 3 tablespoons brandy (optional) 1 egg, lightly beaten
DIRECTIONS Preheat the oven to 325° F.
On a cutting board pull off the layer of fat from each of the two duck breasts. With a little prying they separate easily, but you may need to cut away some connective tissue. Set the skins aside. Lay the breast meat flat and cut them lengthwise into four or five strips ½- to ¾-inch thick.
Melt the butter in a small pan and sauté the shallot and garlic until softened; remove to a bowl to cool. In another bowl combine the veal, pork, thyme, salt, and green peppercorns. Add the brandy and egg, and scrape in the cooled shallot mixture. Using your hands mix everything together well.
Put half the ground veal and turkey mixture in a standard loaf pan (8½ x 4½ x 2½ inches). Lay half the duck strips lengthwise across the top. Repeat with the rest of the ground meat mixture and remaining duck strips. On the surface lay the two duck skins so that they meet in the middle, outer side on top; this will allow them to cover the mixture as they shrink during cooking.
Cover the loaf pan with foil and set it inside a larger baking pan to catch any juices that overflow. Pour boiling water into the larger pan to reach about halfway up the loaf pan. Cook the pâté in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Remove the foil cover and cook 45 minutes or more. It is done when the temperature reaches 170° F. (2 hours is plenty).
Take the pâté out of the oven to rest; when it is cool, insert a knife around the outside edge to free it from the pan, then turn it out. Scrape off the congealed fat and jelly but leave the skin on top. Wrap and chill to let the flavors mellow for a day or two or three before serving.
To serve, cut the chilled pate across in thin slices to show the grain. Let it come to near room temperature before serving. Garnish it with greens, cornichons, or sharp chutney.