A good pâté is one my favorite things--humble ingredients transformed into a culinary delight. I particularly enjoy a nice mushroom pâté with fresh bread and sweet pickles for breakfast. Another thing I particularly like about pâté when cooked en terrine is that it isn't particularly fussy--a few more minutes in the oven won't make a significant difference.
This process seems a lot more complicated than it actually is. There are lots of steps, but really, it isn't difficult at all and it's very forgiving.
Mushroom Pâté en Terrine
1 oz./30 g dried mushrooms
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ pound/375 g fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
½ onion, diced
sel gris or kosher salt
2 tablespoons cognac or brandy
¾ cup/6 oz./180 ml heavy (double) cream
garlic confit (optional)
½ teaspoon herbs de provence
salt and pepper to taste
4 oz./120 g pancetta, diced (optional)
unsalted butter for the terrine
Prepare the dried mushrooms by placing them in a bowl and covering with boiling water and letting them sit for 30 minutes. Drain and roughly chop the mushrooms. If you wish to save the mushroom stock, drain the mushrooms using a sieve lined with a double layer of cheesecloth. Roughly chop the fresh mushrooms.
Preheat your oven to 350°F/180°C and rub unsalted butter over the interior of the loaf pan or terrine that you'll be using. You'll also need a deep roasting pan large enough to hold the terrine, and enough boiling water to fill the roasting pan with the terrine in it.
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the butter in a large sauté or frying pan over medium heat until the butter foams, then add the mushrooms, season lightly with salt, and sauté until just cooked. Reserve about a cup of the cooked mushrooms and add the rest to the bowl of the food processor. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the onions to the pan and sauté until the onions are translucent. Deglaze the pan with the cognac, scraping up any brown bits of flavor in the pan, then add the onions to the bowl of the food processor.
Pulse the food processor a few times to chop the mushrooms and onions, then add the cream, garlic confit to taste if you're using any, and herbs de provence. Pulse a few more times until the mixture is reasonably smooth.
Taste before seasoning with salt and pepper, and remember to season aggressively because the pâté will be served at room temperature; pulse two or three times after each addition of seasoning. When you're satisfied with the taste, add the eggs and pulse the food processor two or three times to blend. Pour the mixture into a bowl and fold in the reserved sliced mushrooms and diced pancetta if you're using any. You might also add several whole cloves of garlic confit if you're a fan of garlic, as I am. Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf pan or terrine and pat it down. Cover the top of the terrine with foil.
Set the terrine into the roasting pan and set the roasting pan in the oven. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until it comes about halfway up the side of the terrine. Bake for about 45 minutes, then remove the foil. Bake another 15 minutes or so, until the top of the pâté is slightly puffy and fairly firm to the touch. A cake tester inserted into the middle should come out clean. Remove the terrine from the roasting pan and oven and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight before serving.
The pâté may be unmolded before serving, or may be served in the terrine or loaf pan in which it was baked. Serve with crackers, toast points, or fresh bread, as you prefer. Some sweet pickles, cornichons, or pickled onions are a nice accompaniment, as is a good mustard. And the leftover pâté makes an oustanding sandwich filling.
Store tightly covered in the refrigerator and it will keep for at least a week.