Hot And Cold

Yesterday Mary came for a visit (and there’s some good news brewing on that front) so I roused myself from a humid torpor and wrangled a few things in the kitchen so we would have substantial yet heat-appropriate fare to buttress ourselves against all the wine she carries around with her everywhere. It was not a day for much cooking, so the sous vide rig seemed like a good choice; it gives off little heat and can be ignored for hours on end. It’s a brilliant way to prepare food on sweltering days. Plus, it’s been ages since I did a charcuterie post, so here you go.

I took a couple of bags of chicken livers and puréed them with some heavy cream, eggs, truffle salt, pepper, and cherry-infused applejack, then strained the mixture into three of the small loaf pans that I often use for pâtés. I put them in the freezer to firm up a little, because it’s so much easier to vacuum-bag them when they’re not liquid. Once bagged, they went into the tub of 66˚C water for about three hours and got back to work in my lovely air-conditioned office finishing my article for the July Chronogram. When that was done, I pulled them out, cooled them off in an ice water bath, and froze two of them. The third I unmolded on a plate for serving. Among the many good reasons to cook pâtés and terrines this way is that they keep a lovely rosy hue without the need for any pink salt.

Then I took a bunch of rhubarb–we’re nearing the end of the season–and cooked it down with maple syrup and more of the applejack plus a pinch each of salt and black pepper to make a jam. I minced some fresh garlic scapes and some pickled wild garlic for a garnish, and sliced up a baguette I bought at the farmers’ market because it was too hot to bake bread. All in all, it was a winning combination; the simplicity of the seasonings in the pâté really let the liver shine through, and the texture was silky and decadent. The jam was not so sweet, so the assertive acidity of the rhubarb worked as a good foil to the meat, and alliums in two forms provided the essential pickled flavor and a complex sharpness.

We put away a whole pile of these while we tasted a bunch of wines. A real standout was the 2009 Côtes du Jura Pinot Noir from Les Chais du Vieux Bourg. Opened the day before, it was impressive right out of the gate but only got bigger and more detailed as the evening progressed. Very dense and sensual, but not cloying, it barely tasted like Pinot at all.

For the next course, I had lowered the bath temperature to 63˚C after the meat came out and slid a few eggs in there for an hour. When they were ready, I browned some lardons of the homemade lamb bacon and whipped up a simple vinaigrette (olive oil, cider vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt, pepper). Big bowls of just-picked lettuce are great with this dressing, and they’re even better with poached eggs and lamb bacon. Apart from the warm eggs and bacon, everything else was wonderfully cool to eat; dessert was chilled blueberries with a bit of that heavy cream and a dribble of maple syrup.

6 comments to Hot And Cold

  • This is intolerable teasing

  • El

    Me likes that plate: is it new?

    I have a feeling my husband will rig up a sous-vide thingy if given the idea to do so by the cook of the house. As it was, I dealt with the heat by getting creative with the rice cooker. Cooler weather’s coming your way so hang in there.

  • Peter

    Those plates are old, going back all the way to when I first started doing it up here. I should make more of them.

  • Looks delicious. I’ve only attempted making a pâté once before. I wasn’t overly keen on the result. You’ve jogged my memory and perhaps I should try again.

    Loving the presentation and photography, superb!

  • i realize my comments are weak, but i read and all i can do is wish i were in your kitchen…

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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