December 31, 2009

Mushroom Pâté en Terrine

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
boiling water
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
2 eggs
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.


  1. This looks so tasty! For those who don't drink alcohol, what would be a good substitute for the cognac/brandy?
    Thanks for sharing this!

  2. The alcohol will cook out, but if you don't want to use cognac or brandy, leave it out. You might use some of the reserved liquid from reconstituting the dried mushrooms to boost the flavor if you wish.

  3. This sounds really good (although I would skip the pancetta) -- and I can see how it would go well with the pickles.

  4. I might skip the pancetta as well next time I make it. It will just need more salt. I'd use a truffled salt mixture if possible, so that the flavors would be more intense.

  5. OK, I think I will use the mushroom liquid instead. I also like the idea of truffle salt too, for extra flavor. We just picked some up before Christmas and it is divine! Thanks!!

  6. It is so refreshing to see a Pate that is not made with animal livers!! I am afraid of most pate ... but not this one!!!

  7. Scrummy!!!! great recipe wonderful on morning toast as per recipe. Having the family all come to visit on Sunday so I made extra in order that they can all have a portion to take home with them.

  8. After my post I scrolled down.I agree that the liquor will burn out but after the terrine cools down a little I poured Marsala over the top which then seeps back into the pate.....I love everything that introduces some liquor ;-)  .......well I am Irish!!!!!!