Pate de Canard
As a major carnivore I've had a lot of fantasies about making all sorts of pates. I've purchased terrine molds and read a million recipes (check out Garde Manger from the Culinary Institute of America for some amazing recipes). Pates with good crusty bread and cornichons are my go-to appetizer at French restaurants. I've made some mousses and liver spreads, but never gotten brave enough to do a real terrine. The December 2008 Saveur has an excellent recipe for Pate de Canard, or Duck Pate, and I decided it was now or never, and that this would be my appetizer contribution to Thanksgiving. Though this is a recipe that has to be completed over a few days, and then sit for a day or two, that was perfect with my busy schedule - I could just do a little each night over the course of a week.
The recipe was also pretty easy to follow, with easy steps and good pictures along the way in the hard copy .
I didn't have piment d'Espelette, so I just used regular paprika. Also, I had a lot of trouble finding fatback, which, contrary to some, is not the same thing as salt pork. So, I winged it and used good bacon that I poached to get as much salt out of as possible. I was worried that my final product would be too bacon-y (I know, how could that ever be a problem) or too salty.
And the results? Really, really good, if I do say so myself. It certainly didn't taste like a bacon terrine, which I had worried about. It was very flavorful, and just got tastier over the week after the holiday. I'm planning on doing this again for Christmas - different family - and I will make a couple of adjustments. The recipe says to cut the duck into 1/2" cubes. I'm going to cut it just a little larger so the duck doesn't get lost. Also, I'm going to cut back just a little on the peppercorns. They were fine for the overall flavor, but there were many bites with too many peppercorns. Finally, I'll use fatback instead. Most of the butchers said they could order it for me, so I'll just get ahead of the game next time.