Pâté en croûte (meat pie) with duck magret, foie gras and giblets

When pastry was used instead of plastic… Is it really a progress?
As I explained it in my post about the pâté Lorrain, the pâté refers originally to one of the two techniques used in the middle age to cook meat. The other way was the terrine, an earthenware made in terracota. In fact, the crust of the pâté was not only a way to cook the products contained into it, but also to keep those products longer. And exactly like the terrine in clay or in similar materials, the pâté, i.e. originally the crust made from a dough (pâte in French) was not supposed to be eaten. Honestly, isn’t it better than a plastic blister?

An art or a sport, with its own championship
Le pâté-croûte, the other way to say pâté en croûte, has become such an art as it has, since 2009, its own world championship held every year in Tain l’Hermitage, near Lyon in France. I advise you to google for it and admire the masterpieces created by the participants to this championship. Looking like marquetry works. By the way, the 2012 winner, Yohann Lastre, former chef at La Tour d’Argent, conceived his pâtés with his wife, Marion… a cabinet maker!
There are of course an infinity of shapes and contents. Here is a classic rectangular pâté en croûte using duck meats and organs (magret, foie gras, giblets), pork (ventrèche, i.e. raw pancetta) and mushrooms (here basic portobellas, but you can replace them by morels or black trumpet to add a black note, chanterelles…).
I estimate that it is a difficult recipe (red square) not really because of the technique that it requires (if I can make it, it is not difficult), but because of the time of preparation. I estimate its cost as rather moderately expensive, given that I used foie gras trimmings and not expensive mushrooms. But it could be more expensive if you use a whole foie gras and morels or porcinis… not mentioning truffles.  

Level of difficulty
Preparation time
Cooking time
2 hours + 24-hour marinade + 24-hour resting
30 + 45 min

Ingredients - 8 servings


NB. I used a special pâté mold (11.875x3.125"x3.125") but a rectangular cake mold will do the job. It is then essential to butter/flour the inside of the mold, which I also make with this special mold with movable walls. Also, measures are to be adapted to the size of your mold.

The Filling:
§  1 duck magret (~14 oz), skin off (to keep)
§  12 oz of raw foie gras cubes (you can also use foie gras mi-cuit)
§  6 oz of ventrèche (raw pancetta, or similar piece of pork)
§  2 duck livers and gizzards (optional – if not, replace by around 3 oz of foie gras cubes)
§  2 heads of portobella mushroom (or other mushrooms), diced
§  2 shallot heads (i.e. typically 4 cloves)
§  Fresh herbs: thyme, marjoram, tarragon, bay leaves, sage
§  Salt and pepper or Espelette
§  1 glass of Port
§  1 egg white (keep the yolk for the finishing)

The Pastry:
§  16 oz of AP flour, strained
§  4 oz of chestnut flour, strained (optional, it brings a nice roundness to the pastry, otherwise, replace by AP flour)
§  1 sheet of puff pastry (commercial -my case here- or homemade)
§  10 oz of salted butter, at room temperature
§  3 eggs (2 for the dough + 1 for the finishing)
§  3 oz of water
§  0.5 oz of sugar

The aspic:
§  1 pig trotter
§  1 carrot
§  1 celery stem
§  1 onion
§  1 apple
§  2 bay leaves and other herbs
§  Cloves
§  1/2 glass of Port
§  S&P

1 Cut the magret in 4 equal width strips. Salt and pepper, and reserve the two central strips in the fridge. Cut the two thinner lateral strips in approx. 1 cm dices. Dice similarly the ventrèche and the giblets (or alternatively the 3 ounces of foie gras). Finely chop 1 shallot. Put the whole in a bowl with the Port, the herbs (tied together) and S&P, and marinate it in the fridge, with a film and/or lid on, for 24 hours.

2 Salt and pepper the raw foie gras, place it in a cling wrap and roll it to form a “sausage” of around 10" long. Roll it tightly in a second wrap and poach it for 30 minutes in near boiling water (if you use foie gras mi-cuit, you can skip this step). Take out of the water (the foie gras will bath in its liquid fat) and let it cool down before keeping it in the fridge in an appropriate size dish for 24 hours

3 Put the magret skin in a pan and heat it to melt the fat without searing it. Roughly cut the carrot, the apple (with its skin and seeds for the pectin), the celery, the onion and put them in the pan. Add the trotter and let the whole cook together gently. Add the Port wine and put to boil to evaporate the alcohol. Add the herbs and spices (don’t S&P too much as it will reduce significantly). Add 2 cups of water, and when boiling, let it reduce till around 50%. Reserve in the fridge till the following day.

4 The day after, mix the flours and the sugar in a mixer equipped with a flat beater. Add progressively the butter. Add the 2 eggs and the water and mix till about to block the mixer. Kneed it roughly to obtain a flat ball, wrap it and let it rest in the fridge for around 1 hour.

5 After 1 hour, cut the pastry in 2 parts (3/4 and 1/4). Roll the bigger part to make a pastry square of around 4 mm thick and 12” wide. Roll the smaller  part to make a pastry rectangle, of around 4 mm thick, 3” wide and 20” long.

6 Butter and flour the mold. Position the pastry square to cover the wider sides, brush the bottom and the edges with water (this will help to seal bot pastries together). Then position the pastry rectangle above the square, to cover the narrower sides (see pix below). Adjust the pastry to the mold, using your fingers or a fork handle, and squeeze each pastry edges together.  Pierce the central area with a fork. Remove the dough in excess. Cover with a parchment paper and fill with beans or balls. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 F. When done, and while the crust is hot, brush the inside of the crust with an egg to create a thin protection film.

7 Sauté the remaining shallot and the diced mushrooms together to eliminate as much water as possible without necessarily cooking them. Take the meat marinade out of the fridge (after it has marinated for 24+ hours) and chop it with a blender (or grind it with a meat grinder, but I personally prefer to keep some texture to chew). Mix the egg white into it (it will help the forcemeat to adhere on the crust.

8 Place a approx. 1 cm thick layer of this forcemeat on the bottom of the crust. Place the two magret strips, end to end, on top of the forcemeat (this should normally fit on the whole length of the mold) and stick them slightly in the force meat. Finish to wrap the magret strips by sticking forcemeat on each side. Dispose a layer of the mushroom duxelle on top of it. At the last moment so that it remains cold, take the foie gras "sausage" out of the fridge and place it on top of the mushroom layer, and finish wrapping it with a final layer of forcemeat that should finish filling up the mold.

9 Take the puff pastry sheet and roll it to make a pastry rectangle slightly bigger than the mold size. Brush the edges of the baked pastry and the forcemeat on top with an egg. Place the puff pastry on top, squeezing it on the edges to help sealing and adjust the size. Brush the top of the puff pastry with the remaining yolk diluted in a little bit of water. Use the remaining puff pastry to make a decoration (here, I chose to make ducks to remain in the theme). Place those decorations on top and brush them with the yolk too. Make three little holes in the puff pastry that will allow, first, to eliminate some of the humidity inside the pâté and, second, to pour the aspic inside. It is possible to reinforce those holes with an additional puff pastry ring. Place a pipe cone or an aluminum foil cylinder in each hole to avoid that they close while cooking.

10 Place in a 350 F preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes or till the inside temperature of the filling reach 175 F. Take the pâté out of the oven and let it cool down 1 or 2 hours. Warm up the aspic till it turns back to a liquid status and fill it step by step in the three holes till it appears filed up. Keep in the fridge for 24 hours.

11 Get out of the fridge around 1 hour before serving so that it gets to room temperature and serve with a green salad.