Pate is a lot like soup. That’s what I’ve come to believe. When you’re making soup, you don’t really need a recipe. It’s mainly technique. Meat, veggies, herbs, water and some time = something beautiful. The same is true for making pate. As a matter of fact, as you begin making Polish Pate (Pasztet), it looks just like soup.
I started to say the first time I had Pasztet was at a cooking class I took in Warsaw earlier this year, but that wouldn’t be accurate. One year when we lived in Poland, Major Demel sent Ed home with a charcuterie feast after his family slaughtered a hog for Easter. I do remember that there was a pate in the mix, but I was so in love with the White Sausage in a Jar, that I couldn’t think of anything else.
It was my second introduction to Polish Pate that stuck. During our cooking class, we fixed a few dishes, but they fed us many more. The breakfast was on par with the finest hotel restaurant buffet. It really was a celebration of Polish cuisine.
Normally, we think of pate that features liver. That’s not always true of Polish Pate (Pasztet). Adding liver is optional. According to Wikipedia:
In Poland, pasztet is made from poultry, fish, venison, ham, or pork with eggs, flour, bread crumbs, and a varied range of additions, such as pepper, tomato sauce, mushrooms, spices, vegetables, ginger, nutmeg, cheese, or sugar. A local form of pasztet is pasztecik szczeciński, a deep-fried yeast dough stuffed with meat or vegetarian filling, typical fast food dish of the city of Szczecin.
As I prepared to make my first pasztet, I came across numerous variations. I’ve written up what I did, but let me give you some ideas, and you can pick and choose what sounds good or fits what you have available.
Polish Pate (Pasztet) Variations
Consider the chicken livers optional, skip them if you like, but some say too much chicken liver can make the pate bitter, so don’t overdo it.
Consider using poultry rather than beef and pork.
Can’t find pork belly? Use pork fat (if you butcher doesn’t have it, I’ll bet they’ll save it for you).
Add other vegetables, such as carrot and parsnip, add a little garlic if you like
Rather than greasing the pan and preparing it with a dusting of breadcrumbs, line it with bacon, folding the slices around the top if they reach that far.
Garnish the cooked pate with chopped chives.
This isn’t a spreadable pate. It’s firm and will need to be sliced.
Some like to serve pasztet as an appetizer on special occasions such as Easter and Christmas (Christmas Day, not Christmas Eve which is meat-free). You might pair it with a crusty bread and horseradish sauce (1 part grated horseradish from a jar to 3 or 4 parts mayo depending on how much you like horseradish) and gherkin pickles. Some like the pate with something sweet and tart such as lingonberry jam or a cranberry relish. I found that I like it with both horseradish sauce and lingonberry jam.
Slice the pate and use it for a sandwich filling, I would probably add the horseradish sauce and lingonberry jam to my sandwich, maybe a thin slice of onion, with a few gherkins on the side.
We’re eating one loaf for lunch this week, and freezing the second one for Christmas morning.
Do you make pasztet? If not, I hope you’ll give it a try!
Lightly flavored pate with pork and beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound pork, cut into 1-inch cubes
Seasoning salt, to taste
1/2 pound pork belly, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 onions, peeled and quarterd
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
5 – 10 dried mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes
1 bay leaf
5 whole allspice
5 black peppercorns
3 juniper berries
7 cups water
1/2 pound chicken livers
1 large bread roll
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoon ground marjoram
3 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
pinch ground nutmeg
breadcrumbs for pan
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in Dutch oven or stock pot
Season beef and pork with seasoning salt, brown beef, remove from pan and brown pork
Return beef to pan along with pork belly, onion, celery, rehydrated mushrooms and the liquid (but be careful not to pour in any sediment or debris that was on the mushrooms), bay leaf, allspice, peppercorns, juniper berries, and water, bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 2 to 3 hours, meat should be very tender, remove from heat
In another pan, blanch chicken livers by putting them in boiling water for 30 seconds, drain,a and rinse off any scum or foam
Add chicken livers and roll to pot with meat/veggie mixture, cool for 1 hour
Preheat oven to 350
Drain, run the mixture through a meat grinder, twice, mixture should be very moist, add eggs, marjoram, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg
Grease two 8 x 4 inch loaf pans, and dust with bread crumbs, bake for 45 – 50 minutes
Cool, and refrigerate over night before serving