Update 28, Part 1: New Year's Goal: Become an "official" Gourmess by August 2010

I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate. --Julia Child

Session 19: Organ Meats was quite an adventure, but I guess you could say the offal wasn't awful. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

It took trips to two butchers and eight grocery stores before I found most of what I needed for these recipes.  The chicken livers were easy to find (Perdue sells them in a tub), the calf liver a bit trickier (specialty grocery store), and the veal kidneys and fatback were hidden like gems in the last grocery store we checked (the fatback was prepackaged in sheets -- perfect for lining the pâté terrine, and I also got thicker slabs from one of the butchers for dicing, etc.).  The veal sweetbreads were not anywhere to be found, so I am ordering them from a local butcher and will finish that Demonstration and close out this session when they come in.

Since I didn't have the sweetbreads, I skipped to the second Demonstration, which was Foie de Veau à la Lyonnaise (Calf's Liver Lyonnaise).  First, I heated about two teaspoons of butter over medium-high heat and when hot, added in 14 oz. (about 4 medium) thinly sliced onions (émincé).  I stirred frequently and cooked over low heat until they were soft and translucent, about 10 minutes or so.  In the meantime, I took my four slices of calf's liver, patted dry, added some salt and pepper, and then dredged in flour, tapping off any excess.  These went into a pan of two TBS of butter that I heated until bubbly.  I fried the livers on one side until browned and then turned them over and cooked for another few minutes until it was browned on both sides, but still pink in the middle.  When done, they went to a serving platter tented with foil.  I then dumped the onions into the meat pan and cooked them a bit longer, until caramelized, then in went two TBS of white wine vinegar, which I used to scrape up the sucs from the bottom of the pan.  Then I added some veal demi-glace and adjusted the salt/pepper before taking a bit more butter and swirling it in at the end (monter au beurre).  To finish the dish, I poured the sauce/onions over the liver, sprinkled with freshly chopped parsley (from the garden) and that was it.  It looked just like the picture in the book (yay!) and if I liked the taste of liver, it would have been delicious.  Just not my thing though.

Next was Rouelles de Rognons à la Dijonnaise (Kidneys with Mustard Sauce). The veal kidneys kind of looked like an alien brain when I first pulled them out of the package -- all grouped together and yet segmented.  There is a big strip of fat going through the center, so I cut the kidneys in half, removed the fat, and then cut each half into 1cm slices.  Then, I heated two TBS of butter and a bit of vegetable oil in a pan over high heat and when hot, seared the kidneys on both sides until nicely browned but still pink in the middle. I removed them with a slotted spoon and drained on paper towels while I finished the sauce.  I wiped out the pan with a paper towel (leaving the sucs), added a bit more butter and cooked some finely diced shallots (ciselé) until they were soft but didn't take on any color. In went some cognac to loosen the sucs and deglaze the pan. I added some veal demi-glace and heavy cream and cooked until it reduced to a sauce.  I took the pan off the heat, and then added in some Dijon mustard and salt and pepper. The kidneys went back in with the sauce and I heated them through for a few minutes more (do not bring to a boil or the sauce will break apart).  To serve, pour onto a warm plate, top with fresh chopped parsley and you're done.  I liked the kidneys better than the liver -- they still had that odd consistency and taste that organs have -- but the sauce was nice and brought out all the right flavors.  Not bad.

Next up was my biggest challenge yet -- Pâté de Campagne (Country Pâté).  Yes, ladies and gents -- I spent my Saturday making pâté.

Pâté has a few different parts: the fine forcemeat, the coarse forcemeat, the marinade and the garnish.  Let's start with the fine forcemeat.  To prepare, I sautéed chicken livers in vegetable oil for about 10 minutes, until cooked through, and then stirred in four cloves of garlic (smashed into a paste with my knife), shallots, marjoram, and thyme (from the garden), cooking for another few minutes until the aromatics had sweated their liquid.  I removed from the heat and let cool.  In the meantime, I diced up some pork shoulder, combined it with fatback (layer of fat under the skin of the back of the pig) and some boneless, skinless chicken (I used chicken breasts). I added the livers and then ground through the fine disk of my food mill/meat grinder into a clean bowl.

Next, I preheated the oven to 325 degrees and then coarsely chopped more of the pork shoulder for the coarse forcemeat, making sure that the texture was a big contrast to the fine forcemeat.  I made the marinade by combining cognac, port, sel rose (saltpeter to preserve the meat and keep its rosy hue once cooked), salt, pepper, and fresh chopped parsley.  I added the coarse forcemeat to the fine mixture, and then in went the marinade and the garnish (diced ham, diced fatback, shelled pistachios).  I mixed it all together gently, being careful not to mash the ingredients together.  Then, I took a small piece, made a patty and fried on the stove until cooked through to make sure the seasonings were right (they were spot on).  After that, I lined my terrine with the sheets of fat back (be sure to  leave enough hanging over the edges to fold close later--mine didn't quite fit in some places, but I got it to work) and then put the forcemeat mixture into the terrine (it's like a loaf pan), patting down gently.  I put some bay leaves and thyme sprigs across the top, and then completely covered the filling with the fat back.

The mold then went into a larger pan filled with hot water, with the water coming at least halfway up the sides of the terrine. I placed the pans in the oven and baked for about 90 minutes, checking often to make sure that the water didn't boil, since that would make the meat shrink and toughen.  At the 90 minute point, I checked the temperature of the pâté and it was 140 degrees. The book says it should be between 140-150, so I gave it a few more minutes to be safe, and then took it out and set on a wire rack to cool.  Once cooled, I weighted the top and put in the refrigerator overnight, letting the flavors meld for 12+ hours.

When I unmolded the pâté, I was nervous that it wouldn't look like the book -- but it was perfect.  It looked great, and tasted divine.  I think Chris was truly impressed. With some Dijon mustard, crusty bread, cornichons and a glass of wine, it is the perfect, elegant summer picnic.

Did I mention that I made pâté?  And it rocked the house?  Watch out world, La Petite Gourmess is in the house...er, kitchen! :)

So, now all I need are the sweetbreads, and I'm done with offal.
Next, on to Session 20: Pastry Doughs.


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