This pâté is neither easy nor inexpensive, but when you are looking for a tour de force, it is a gorgeous thing. If you feel the urge to simplify, omit the topping, but frankly, the pâté won’t be quite as impressive without it, and you also won’t have the exquisite contrast of the parsley and the crunchy almonds.
My sister introduced this recipe to me two years ago. We made it as an appetizer for guests before Thanksgiving dinner. It was a success. Since then, I’ve served it for several occasions, including at a recent play date I hosted.
The pâté was served with sliced apples and pears, endive leaves, figs and gougères (a French style of savory pastry made from choux pastry and cheese).
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 ounce (1 cup) dried porcini mushrooms (see Sources)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3/4 cup minced shallots (5 ounces)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dry sherry
3/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps thinly sliced (6 cups)
3/4 pound oyster mushrooms, trimmed leaving stems intact, and caps thinly sliced (3 3/4 cups)
1 cup heavy cream
4 large eggs
1/4 cup (1 ounce) whole almonds with skins, toasted, cooled, and finely ground in a food processor
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/3 cup fine fresh bread crumbs
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For mushroom topping
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup (3 ounces) shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps quartered
1 cup (2 3/4 ounces) oyster mushrooms, stems discarded and caps quartered
3/4 cup (3 1/2 ounces) whole almonds with skins, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Accompaniment: assorted toasts and/or crackers.
Special equipment: a 12-by-3-by-2 3/4 inch (2-quart) loaf pan or terrine; parchment paper.
Make the pâté:
Grease loaf pan with olive oil, then line bottom and sides with parchment paper and oil the paper.
Bring stock to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove pan from heat, add porcini, and let soak in hot stock until softened, about 30 minutes.
With a slotted spoon, transfer porcini to a medium-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Press on porcini with back of a spoon to remove excess liquid, then add this to soaking liquid and reserve. Rinse porcini to remove any grit. Pat dry, chop, and put in a large bowl.
Strain reserved soaking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve lined with a coffee filter or dampened paper towel into another small saucepan. Bring to a brisk simmer over moderate heat and simmer until reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Add to porcini.
Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large nonstick skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides. Add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add sherry and cook, stirring for 1 minute.
Transfer mixture to a blender. Heat 2 more tablespoons butter in skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides. Add one third of shiitake and oyster mushrooms and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cook remaining mushrooms in 2 batches, adding 2 more tablespoons butter to skillet for each batch. Add 2 cups sautéed mushrooms to shallot mixture in blender, and add remaining mushrooms to porcini mixture.
Add cream, then eggs and almonds to blender and purée until mixture is very smooth, about 1 minute. Add purée to porcini mixture and stir in parsley, thyme, bread crumbs, lemon juice, salt, and pepper until well combined. Pour mixture into loaf pan and cover with foil.
Put loaf pan in a larger baking pan and add enough boiling water to reach halfway up sides of loaf pan. Bake until set 1/2 inch from edges, about 50 minutes (pâté will not be completely set in center). Remove loaf pan from baking pan and let cool to room temperature on a rack. Refrigerate pâté in loaf pan, covered, for at least 6 hours. Bring pâté to room temperature before adding topping.
While the pâté comes to room temperature, make the topping:
Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides. Add mushrooms and almonds and cook, stirring, until mushrooms are tender and liquid they give off has evaporated, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and let cool, then add parsley, salt, and pepper and toss to combine.
To unmold pâté, run a thin knife between paper and edges of loaf pan. Invert a large plate over loaf pan and invert pâté onto plate (peel off paper). Mound topping on pâté, and spread on toasts and/or crackers.
The pâté, without the topping, can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Yield: Makes about 40 hors d’oeuvres
Active time: 1 hour
Total time: 10 1/2 hours (includes chilling)
Recipe slightly adapted from Gourmet, January 1997
Martine’s Note: Each time I‘ve made this pâté for groups of 7-14 adults, I halved the recipe. I like to accompany this pâté with fruit, endive leaves and gougères. Before I bought a terrine, I made this pâté in a loaf pan. Both are suitable. Other items on the menu for our play date included walnut cookies, and mini pumpkin cupcakes.