Pate is essentially a French dish which consists of a mixture of meat and fat ground into a paste like consistency before being baked. It is frequently enriched with herbs, vegetables, spices and other seasonings. Chopped liver of the duck or goose is also referred to a pate occasionally while pate de foie gras is considered to be a gourmet dish. Pates are served with crisp breads, baguette or crackers. Dill and other pickles are often served as an accompaniment with this appetizer.
The recipes are not always extravagant though and widely vary from the humble appetizer prepared at home to one of the world’s most expensive dishes served at a fancy restaurant. The word comes from the French pate which means a pie. Traditionally the pate recipe consisted of baked dishes which were served with the crust or molded into a terrine. The crust served the purpose of holding the pate together and was not eaten in the olden days.
The modern day recipes consist of a mixture of sea food, meat, and poultry as well as an assortment of vegetables held together with the help of several base ingredients. There are no rigid rules for cooking or serving the pate. It can be eaten either hot or cold and serve either molded or unmolded. The texture of the dish varies considerably too and can range from being smooth to chunky or creamy.
History of Pate Recipes
The dish is believed to have originated in ancient Rome. The different parts went into the traditional pates along with other kinds of meat and herbs. The Middle Ages saw the flourishing of this dish which were often named after nobles. The pâté a la mazarine was named for the French Cardinal Mazarine for instance.
Ingredients for Pate Recipes
There are no fixed ingredients for preparing the pate dishes as each varies considerably from the other. A mixture of various meats and vegetables along with herbs, spices and seasonings are all that is needed for cooking the dish according to traditional recipes. Although the fat and proteins present in the meat serve adequately as binders, eggs, starch and milk powder is often added to provide an extra binder. The forcemeats form the basis of the recipes and are usually of the following types.
- Straight- A combination of pork and pork fats minced and emulsified.
- Country Style- Coarser form of meat containing pork and chopped liver.
- Gratin- Consists of sautéed meat which is ground before using it in pate recipes.
- Mousselines- Prepared from white meat which includes cream and egg whites.
Popular Pate Recipes
The traditional mould can be of any shape while the fillings include a variety of ground meat and vegetables. The mould is sometimes lined with bacon which lies underneath the filling. The baking process starts with the oven turned on to a very high temperature which is reduced half way through the process. Pates which are served hot often have some extra gravy, juice or sauce poured over it. The sauce for it is usually made separately and served in a gravy boat. Cold pates, on the other hand, often get to be served in accompaniment with Madeira or Port flavored aspic.
Pates are more popular in Europe than in the United States of America. While most supermarkets do stock the ingredients or a frozen pate section, the delicacies are only available in the gourmet or specialized stores. Some of the most popular varities of the dish are:-
- Pate de Foie Gras- Considered to be an ultimate delicacy, it is eaten with sour pickles and fresh French baguette. The liver of the gravees geese needs no other accompaniment and adding butter to the bread also alters the taste somewhat.
- Pâté de champagne- A rustic form of coarsely ground meal with pork, offal and seasonings like the thyme and bay leaf, it is usually served chilled with a cornichons topping the dish.
- Pate de tete- The traditional dish prepared with cooked pig’s head.
- Pate de volaille- Made from chicken livers and green peppercorns, it is served with a topping of gelatin.
- Duxelles- A pate dish made from mushrooms seasoned with onions, thyme and sherry.
- Pate de chartres- Made from pheasants. There are similar recipes prepared with ducks, geese and other birds.
Variations Of Pate
- The dish is often shaped into a soft sausage known as Leberwurst in Germany.
- Leverworst of Holland and májpástétom or májkrém of Hungarian origin are a kind of pates too.
- Liverwurst is a similar dish eaten across the United States of America which is often chopped and converted into a sandwich filling.
- In Russia and Ukraine it is made from livers of goose, chicken or beef where it is first boiled or fried and then mixed with seasonings and baked.
- The pašteta of Yugoslavia is a pureed form of the traditional dish prepared from chicken, tunas or salmon.
- The Vietnamese also eat this delicacy in the form of bánh mì which is spread on baguette like sandwiches.
Health Facts About Pates
The dishes are high on protein but not considered to be nutritionally empty. They are full of essential minerals and vitamins A, B6 and B12. Folate and Iron are plentiful too as they are prepared from organic meat like the liver. Choline, which helps in nurturing the nerve cells and muscles are found in the pates as well while zinc, another useful element is present in substantial quantities too. Pates containing sea food are an additional source of the beneficial omega-3 essential fatty acids.
Apart from the delicious French dish, the word is used in a lot of different contexts. Some of the most interesting ones are:-
- Musical instrument of Samoan origin.
- The interior portion of a cheese.
- The name of a film made by Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo.
- The original Maori term for a tree indigenous to New Zealand.
- Pate is the English term for the crown of head.