Monday, August 11, 2014

Duck Pate in Cognac (1965)

  • 2 duck livers, washed and dried
  • 8 tbspns butter
  • 1/4 cup cognac (or Calvados or Applejack)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked duck, finely chopped and trimmed of all skin, fat, gristle
  • 3 to 6 tbspns heavy cream
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 tspn lemon juice
  • 1/4 tspn cayenne pepper
  • 1 to 2 tbspns black truffles (optional)
In a small, frying pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over fairly high heat.  When the foam subsides, add the duck livers, and cook them briskly, turning them with a spoon.   

When the livers are quite brown on the outside, but still pink within. remove the plan from the heat and flame them with the cognac. The safest way to do this is simply to heat the cognac to lukewarm in a small saucepan, then set it alight with a kitchen match.  Pour it into the frying pan, a little at a time, shaking the pan continuously until the flame dies out.  

Scrape the livers and every bit of the liquid and brown sediment in the frying pan into a blender jar.  Add the duck and 3 tablespoons of cream. Blend at a high speed until the duck and livers are reduced to a smooth puree.  Remove the puree from the jar, and rub it through a fine sieve to eliminate any bit of stray bone or gristle.  

Now cream the remaining butter by beating it in a bowl or electric mixer until smooth and light yellow in color.  Beat into it, a little at a time, the duck puree. Continue to beat until the paste is as smooth and creamy as you can get.  Season with salt to taste and cayenne, then stir in the lemon juice.  Fold in the black truffles.  

Pack the pate into small crocks from which it may be served.  Chill for at least 6 hours or overnight.  Crusty French bread goes well with this, or warm triangles of toast. Serves 4 to 6.

(Origin - "Michael Field's Culinary Classics and Improvisations" by Michael Field, 1965.)

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