Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Egg No. 5, and a festive Rabbit & Prune pâté

We are getting there with these eggs, not loads but a few. Despite almost continuous sub-zero temperatures in Bristol, the Mild Mild West (to steal a glorious line from Banksy), the girls are continuing to flourish and to make us all happy.  

Egg No 5 arrived yesterday morning and I used it to make a delicious pâté with rabbit, prunes & port. Not the obvious recipe for a blog about egg cookery I hear you cry, but it only uses one egg, which was luckily all I had! And that is partly the point of this blog - to explore not only recipes that recognisably eggy - custards, quiches and cakes - but also ways of using eggs in less obvious way. Eggs, whether you produce your own or buy them from the shops, are an amazing food. A relatively cheap source of protein, packed full of great vitamins and beautifully neatly packaged in their own shell - I really feel that eggs should be part of everyones daily cooking and eating repertoire. 

And so here is the recipe. Seasonal, supremely savoury and delicious. And using one (of many, I hope) of my glorious home produced eggs.  Enjoy! 

And Happy Christmas!

Rabbit & prune pâté  
makes 1 loaf tin

1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
50g unsalted butter
1 fresh rabbit, skinned
250g chicken livers
100g fatty pancetta, smoked if possible
1 tbsp olive oil
100ml port
12 prunes, roughly chopped
1 egg
2 bayleaves, finely sliced
1/2 tsp ground mace
Freshly ground black pepper & sea salt

Preheat the oven to 180℃/Gas 4.

Prepare the rabbit by using a small sharp knife to remove as much of the flesh from the body and legs as possible. Set the meat aside. You can roast the bones with carrot, onion, celery and herbs to make a delicious base for a stock or gravy.

In a generous frying pan melt the butter over a low heat, add the onions and garlic and sweat until soft an translucent. The longer and more gently you cook the onions and garlic, the sweeter they become, so don't rush this step - you are not looking to colour the onions at all. Using a slotted spoon (leaving behind as much of the butter as possible), transfer the cooked onions and garlic to a food processor.

Add the olive oil to the pan - this will help stop the butter burning when you fry the meat. Turn up the heat and fry the rabbit meat, chicken livers and pancetta in batches until golden brown. Don't overcrowd the pan or the meat will sweat rather than fry and you will lose a valuable flavour opportunity. Transfer each batch of meat to the processor bowl as it is done.

Add the port to the frying pan and deglaze, taking the time to scrape the sticky caremelised bits of the bottom. Pour the juices into the processor, along with the prune, egg, bayleaves and mace and blitz to a coarse puree. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt. As pâté is served cold I find you need to be quite generous with the salt despite the salty pancetta - cold things need much more vigorous seasoning than hot things, just in the same way as custard for ice cream needs to be super-sweet compared to custard for pouring.

Pour the pâté mix into a well greased loaf tin. Wrap in a double layer of greaseproof paper, and finish with a tight covering of foil. Lower into a deep roasting dish and pour in enough boiling water so it comes half way up the tin. Cook in the oven for 1 1/4 hours, after which time the pâté should be staring to come away from the edges of the tin a little. Remove from the oven and weigh down the top to press the pâté down as it cools. I find a couple of well balance tins of baked beans do this job adequately, if a little precariously! 

Once the pâté has cooled run a knife around the edge of the tin and invert onto a board. A sharp tap to the base of the tin should release the pâté.  Chill until required - the flavour will improve after a few days maturing in the fridge. Pâté also freezers really well. I cut my block into 4, put one in fridge and the other 3, well wrapped in greaseproof, went into the freezer for delicious savoury treat at a later date.

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