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The Pheasant & The Pig: Pâté de Campagne

Did you know meatloaf has a fancy cousin from France— pâté de campagne? I'm a big fan and not just because of there is a circumflex and an acute accent in one word. The idea of combining chopped meat, spices, liquor, eggs and cream in a terrine always seemed like a good way to go. When we lived in Highland Park, one of our weekly rituals was a trip to Haskell's for slice of pâté and a bottle of wine from our friend Sheila.  Pâté seemed out of reach for a neophyte cook like myself and I never thought I could make my own meat masterpiece. Fast forward 20 years— I am no longer a neophyte (anywhere) and I make my own pâté.

One of the recipes I found called for wild boar, kind of hard to find in Northern Wisconsin. I had no idea what would be a decent substitute for a gnarly wild pig but I did know where to get some wild pheasants. I also knew where to get a half bottle of zinfandel (on the counter) and a container of duck fat (in the fridge). I simmered the pheasant for 3 hours in duck fat, wine and olive oil— a perfect storm for tender pheasant and a brilliant addition to my pâté.

Pâté de Campagne (adapted from Taste Food Blog)

1 pheasant, simmered in 375 ml red wine, 12 oz rendered duck fat & 1/2 cup olive oil for 3 hours 1 pound pork shoulder, coarsley ground 1 pound ham, coarsely chopped 3 garlic cloves, minced 2 shallots, minced 2 tsp salt 2 tsp black pepper, coarsely ground 3 tsp fresh thyme 2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced 1 teaspoon allspice 1 tsp ground coriander ½ tsp ground cloves 3/4 pound bacon, coarsely chopped 2 tbsp unsalted butter plus extra for greasing terrine 1 medium yellow onion, minced 2 eggs, lightly beaten 1/3 cup heavy cream 1/3 cup Calvados 1/3 cup shelled pistachios 1/3 cup dried cranberries

Remove all meat from the pheasant after it has cooled. If you are grinding your own meat, cut the pork in 3/4 inch cubes. Place the pork and pheasant in a large bowl. Add garlic, shallots, salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, allspice, coriander and cloves. Mix to thoroughly coat the meat. Cover and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight. Grind with a meat grinder before proceeding.

Preheat oven to 300 F. (180 C.) Remove meat from refrigerator. Add bacon and return to refrigerator while you prepare the onions. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent but not brown, 6 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Stir into the meat. Combine eggs, cream and calvados in a small bowl. Add to meat and mix well.

Butter a loaf pan or terrine. Alternatively, you can line the inside of your terrine with plastic wrap. Press one-third of the meat into the terrine. Sprinkle evenly with half of the pistachios and cranberries. Press another third of the meat into the terrine. Top with remaining pistachios and cranberries. Cover with remaining meat. Cover terrine or if your terrine does not have a cover, use aluminum foil. Prick 2-3 holes in the foil.

Place terrine in a baking pan. Pour boiling water into the baking pan until halfway up the sides of the terrine. Bake in oven until meat thermometer inserted in the center reads 155 F. about 2 hours. Remove from oven and remove terrine from the water bath. Place a terrine press over the pâté (or a cutting board with cans on top) and cool completely. Transfer to refrigerator and let sit 1-2 days before serving. To serve, un-mold pâté. Scrape off any congealed fat. Cut in slices, ½ inch thick.