Pâté (aka faux gras)

Did you know that Pâté is made from fois gras which is just a fancy French word for the liver of tortured geese? Often the geese get their feet cemented into a block to keep them from moving around (too much exercise apparantly ruins the flavor) thereby making their livers balloon up with fatty deposits before their lives of suffering are brought to a premature end. It’s true.

Aren't geese beautiful?

Now, normally I don’t advocate those of my herbivore friends to run around preaching. I’m with Isa Chandra that the most revolutionary, socially transforming action you can take is to cook delicious plant-based food for your friends (and enemies, perhaps) to show them how delightful a life without causing suffering can be. But in the case of fois gras, it’s pretty evil and something has got to be done to stop it!

Now, I sing in a choir and for our Advent Lessons and Carols, we are all to bring something for a festive reception afterwards. I enjoy situations like this because I like to imagine some dish that people would traditionally serve and then try to reinvent it in a more healthy, friendly and sustainable way. So when I asked myself the question “What would a classy elderly person enjoy at a holiday gathering?” I answered myself, “pâté.”

I’ve never actually tasted fois gras but whatever it’s like, there’s no way it could be tastier than this “faux gras” concocted in my laboratory (bwa-ha-ha!). For the mushrooms called for, I chose about 1/3 shiitake and 2/3 crimini mushrooms, but would have used all shiitakes if I could afford it. You could probably use any kind of mushrooms you like.

If I had had cognac, I surely would have used that. 2T in the recipe and 2oz in my belly. But of course, I didn’t have that, or even red wine. I just used some amazing herb-infused vinegar that was a gift to us from Chow Chow’s dear friend and mentor Janisse Ray, handmade at her Red Earth farm. You could basically use anything with some acidity to it.

Finally, the secret to toasting walnuts is to put them under the broiler and leave them there only long enough that you begin to smell their fragrance in the air. Keep your eyes on the prize, because walnuts burn in next to no time! Burnt walnuts have a seriously bitter flavor, so if you do forget about ’em, it’s better just to put those in the compost and try again.

et voilà— that was easy.

This is a recipe I am truly proud of.

—Chili

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