I wanted to make deer liver pate, to continue chipping away at the chapter on the Northeast. Sadly, there was no deer liver in the market, not even for ready money, as Oscar Wilde said. I made a bit of an effort, calling my two standbys, Wagshalls in American University Park and Union Meats at Eastern Market. The Wagshalls man actually called around for me, but the answer was still no.
So I went with Danish Liver Pate from Minnesota. I rode up to Capital Hill on one of the Bikeshare bikes, missing every light along Massachusetts Avenue. One would think that now that I am retired, I would have more opportunity for exercise, but this does not always seem to be the case. I had called Union Meats before I left. The voice I talked to assured me they had pork liver, and pork fat as well.
Well, when I finally arrived at Eastern Market, puffing hard, it appeared that there was no more pork fat. The butcher waiting on me was able to find a tiny amount, maybe half a cup when I was supposed to have half a pound. I also bought half a pound of boneless pork. It turned out when I got home (on the train this time. There is such a thing as too much exercise.) I had confused my recipe with the recipe before it, which is Holiday Folk Fair Danish Liver Paste, which needed three quarters of a pound of ground pork.
The pork liver was frozen, so I put it in the refrigerator to defrost. The next day, after putting up the outdoor lights in the morning, I went to work on the pate. After preheating the oven, the first set of directions say to grind the liver, pork fat, onion and anchovies together three times. I want to warn you all out there in cooking land, this is not a recipe to be undertaken by the squeamish. Just opening the bag the liver was in resulted in a bloody mess. The grinding was equally unattractive.
During the making of the meat balls, Bob had discovered we still had the old meat grinder. I took the grinder out, set it up and commenced grinding. Or possibly mushing. The grinder quickly got clogged up with connective tissues, and the grinding was a slow and messy business. It took well over an hour and a sore back to grind the meat.
Then it was onto the next step, making the roux to hold the whole thing together. I wanted to make the pate gluten free, so I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Flour, my old standby. Alas, Bob's is not good for roux. I let the milk, flour, butter mixture heat up for a good twenty minutes, but it was not thick. (Even though there is no guidance about how thick is thick, I have made enough white sauce to know that something the consistency of heavy cream is not thick enough.) So I gave up on gluten free and added two tablespoons of butter and flour mashed together. After another ten minutes, I had something the consistency of cream of wheat, which was what I wanted.
Then it was on to mix everything together and put it in the oven. Now, the directions given for starting the pate in a pan on the top of the stove and then moving the whole thing into the oven seems like it would result in a scalding.
I boiled the water in the electric kettle, put the pate pan into a cake pan, and put the whole affair into the oven. Then, I poured boiling water into the cake pan, which was already securely in the oven. The pate was well received by the guests at the party. This is a relatively easy recipe if you are a novice pate maker. Then you can move on to layers, pate wrapped in fat, etc. etc. etc.
Danish Liver Pate
1 pound pork liver
3/4 pound pork fat
1 onion, quartered
4 flat anchovies
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grind the liver, pork fat, onion and anchovies together three times.
3. Melt the butter in a saucepan and, using a wire whisk, stir in the flour. Add the milk, stirring rapidly with the whisk. Cook, stirring, until sauce is thickened and smooth. Cool slightly and add the sauce to the liver mixture. Beat in the remaining ingredients and pour the mixture into a loaf pan. Set the loaf pan in a shallow pan of water and bring the water to a boil on top of the stove. Place in the oven and bake one and one-quarter hours. Cool. Serve sliced. Makes 8 or more servings.