Country Pate with Pistachios

Country paté, with its sumptuous texture and deliciously complex flavor, seems like it would be both expensive and difficult to make. Yet, despite its name, paté is really just well-bred meatloaf slowly cooked in a water bath. The only ingredient that may be unfamiliar is fatback (fresh pork fat), which you can find at most supermarkets or the West Side Market; it’s what helps make the paté so lusciously moist. Served with slices of crusty bread and good Dijon mustard, paté is the kind of appetizer you can put out on the table and let people feast on especially during the holidays.

Makes one 8-inch loaf.

For the Spice Mix

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

For the Paté

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 pound chicken livers, trimmed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound fat back, chopped
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground veal
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cognac or brandy
  • 1/2 cup diced ham
  • 1/4 cup skinned pistachio nuts

For Molding and Serving

  • 3/4 pound thinly sliced pancetta
  • Slices of good crusty bread
  • Dijon mustard
  • Cornichons (optional)

Heat the oven to 350°.

In a small bowl, mix the salt, pepper, allspice, coriander, ginger, and nutmeg. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until very tender, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and cook until reduced by about two-thirds. Transfer to a large bowl. Clean the skillet and use it to heat the remaining tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Season the livers with salt and pepper and sauté until medium rare, about 3 minutes per side. Let cool and then chop into 1/2-inch pieces.

Whip the fat back in a food processor until creamy (or finely mince it with a sharp knife) and add it to the onions. Add the pork, veal, egg, and flour to the onion mix with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. Stir in the cognac, ham, pistachios, the spice mix, and the chopped chicken livers.

Line an 8-inch loaf pan, terrine, or similar dish (any pan that conducts heat slowly will do) with overlapping slices of pancetta, allowing the excess to hang over the sides. Spoon the paté mixture into the mold, pressing on it gently. Fold the pancetta over the top and add more slices, if needed, to cover the entire loaf.

Seal with foil or a lid and set the dish in a roasting pan. Fill the pan with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides. Bake in the oven until the internal temperature reaches 160°, about 1 hour and 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the paté cool to room temperature in the water bath.

Partially remove the foil or lid and pour off any excess juices. Fit a clean loaf pan on top of the paté and fill it with 1–2 pounds of cans (or set up a similar weight). Secure the weight with rubber bands and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to three days.

To serve, invert the paté on a cutting board; it should slide out easily. If not, run a knife around the edge to loosen it. You can remove or leave on the pancetta slices. Then rinse the whole paté quickly under running water to remove any congealed juices. Dry it with paper towels and cut the cold paté into 1/2-inch slices and allow them to rest for about 30 minutes to let the full flavor develop. Paté tastes best when served at room temperature, but it’s easier to slice when it’s cold.