Saturday, November 8, 2014
I don't quite remember where I came up with this idea, but it has been forming in my head for at least a year now. I remember while breaking down a half a pig at Pigstock someone jokingly called out to ask what cut on the carcass was the "McRib." Michael Clampffer from Mosefund Farm said McDonald's probably makes it from some sort of smoke-flavored pork forcemeat. It was funny to me that fast food could be technically considered a forcemeat, the term used to describe the seasoned meat mixture that makes up pates and is used to fill deboned birds for galantines. But the technique behind that mixture can easily be done on an industrial scale to make uniform meat patties, spam blocks, or chicken nuggets. That was the conception that would grow into this pate.
Picholine Olives: Crunchy, Briny, and Fruity
I'm not sure if I've ever had olive loaf, possibly as a child, but I know it has a poor reputation. I love olives, and was originally thinking they would make an interesting interior garnish in a pate. So why couldn't the combination of pork and olives rise above the deli case? That got the wheels spinning on making a "classy" olive loaf using organic pork, french olives, and smoking it with apple wood. On the PR-side, I just needed to do some "re-branding." And thus, the Pate Fume aux Picholine was born.
I've never smoked a pate before and worried a soft mousse might deform or split. I didn't want to wrap the pate in bacon strips or caul fat, which would help hold everything together but keep the smoked from hitting the forcemeat directly. So I kept this pate as straight pork meat to ensure it would hold together. For the olives, I used Picholine, which 1.) are French and let me give this a fancy name 2.) are green and large, so they look like the olives in traditional olive loaf. The mixture was very simple: pork, milk, eggs, pate spice mix (quatre epices), white vermouth, and salt, pepper and sodium nitrite (since this was going to be smoked). I pitted the olives and mixed them in evenly with the seasoned meat, then packed it all in a terrine mold.
Unmolding Pate and Drying Off
After cooking the pate in a water bath, I pressed it overnight to firm it up. During unmolding, I had several olives poking through the edges of the pate. It was fine, but I would prefer a neatly squared-off look, so I think next time I would smear some pate down the sides of the terrine mold first, then fill the center with the olive/pork mixture. Finally, time to fume! I cold smoked the pate for about 2 hours with a light stream of apple wood smoke.
Homemade Olive Loaf
The results are really tasty! I love the unexpected smokiness with the pate, and the olives stayed firm and add a gently crunchy texture to the finished dish. The pate could stand to be a bit moister, so I'll definitely add more fat next time. The pate had no problems in the smoker, despite my worries it might sag while sitting on the smoker rack for so long. Aside from some small refinements, I'm excited to make this dish again, as I think it would be a surprise hit at a dinner party or holiday get-together.