Charcutepalooza September: A plethora of pork (pie and pâté)

And so it’s hit me. Nine challenges in, the Charcutefatigue has made an appearance with this month’s challenge – packing.  This month, sadly,  I just wasn’t in love with my pâté.  This month was the month I had the highest hopes for and I figured it was something I couldn’t mess up, so when my pâté de campagne came out less than satisfactorily, I was very disappointed. And *this* close to not making the pork pie (which I am glad I did after all). Also *this* close to not posting this pâté. But if you read my blog you’ll know that I am not afraid to post my failures in the kitchen. Keeping it real, you know? 😉

Now here’s the thing. When I am in France, I eat a lot of pâté de campagne. I much prefer it to its smoother brother, the terrine or simple pâté (the “campagne variety is more rustic, with visible chunks of meat, not the smooth spready kind most of us associate with the word pâté). So I guess my standards are unrealistically high. Especially since I just spent 6 weeks in France. You know. Eating the good stuff. I was convinced since the beginning of Charcutepalooza in January that this would be the recipe I would make, fall in love with and make over and over again. Well now since neither Neil or I loved it, I am going to have to make it again. And get it right.

So, what went wrong? Well, I ground the meat in the food porcessor instead of the meat grinder because I couldn’t be bothered with the grinder wanted a chunkier texture.  So that might have been considered a problem but actually the texture was the least of its issues. The second issue I found was that I simply couldn’t wrap the meat mixture tight enough. I don’t own a proper terrine tin so I used a loaf pan lined with plastic wrap. As I was trying to wrap this as tightly as I could, I all of  sudden panicked that the plastic wrap was going into the oven. Albeit at a low temperature but still… Was kinda freaked out but Charcutepalooza peeps on Twitter reassured me that it would be fine.

Once out of the oven, I weighted it down and left it in the fridge overnight. But it looked wrong. Kind of soggy and a lot of liquid escaping the plastic wrap. And some of the edges were pink, even though I used a digital thermometer. On a side note – Ruhlman says the pâté will take about an hour. Mine took well over 2 to get to the right internal temperature (same amount of ingredients – I guess the pan I used played into that somewhere).  The next day…… (Warning: ugly meat pictures to follow)

Eww, right? Soggy, doesn’t look cooked and oh my goodness, the consistency of meatloaf.  Though (ahem) using a proper knife helped somewhat with the appearance (bottom right-hand corner). Actually for what is essentially a big old block of meat, it didn’t look too bad when cut properly.  It *looked* right. Sadly, though I had seasoned it correctly (or so I thought) and tasted at the right times, it was just bland. No flavour at all. Well, that’s what Neil and I thought. We were so disappointed.

Fortunately, our guinea pigs friends seemed to really enjoy it.

As did our neighbourhood when we served it for our first annual street party. And to be honest, sliced really thinly and served with crunchy cornichons, it was ok. But not mindblowing.

I took a week’s break between challenges and started the pork pie with fresh eyes. I was concerned about pastry this time, not so much the meat, since me and pastry, well we don’t get along so well. I followed Ruhlman’s pastry recipe from Charcuterie to a T. I found it very, very wet going into the fridge to rest for an hour or so and had to use a LOT of flour to get it to come together so I could roll it out.  Next time, I might not use all the liquid in one go and I definitely would not combine the butter/ shortening and flour with my fingers – I’d use a pastry cutter or possibly a food processor. I definitely was not able, even with very cold hands, to rub the fats into the flour satisfactorily. I finally got two circles of pastry rolled out and had made sure to season the meat mixture well.  And then came the fun part. Getting the meat in the pastry…

And having it stick…
Ok, ok, you can stop laughing. It *is* the world’s worst pork pie pastry ever. I should have followed Mrs Wheelbarrow’s directions and covered the meat with the pastry from the top, not the bottom.  Sigh. But hey..

It held together. Just.

I only made a tiny pork pie, barely enough for three servings. I know he’s rustic but I kinda liked him…

We ate this hot. I didn’t have any room for the aspic in the top of the pie. Though it seems I had some room in the bottom. Just like Mrs Wheelbarrow.  Apart from using a pie mold, I am not sure what to do to pack the meat in tighter so it has a space at the top of the pie, not the bottom.

But we *really* enjoyed this. Rustic pastry and all.

I’d definitely make this again – would love to try mini ones though you can *imagine* how “rustic” those might turn out…

Onwards and upwards. A few challenges to go. We can do this. Team eat. live. travel. write. can do this.

The “official signup” for Charcutepalooza is over (see who signed up here) but you can still join in the fun – purchase Charcuterie either on Amazon, Amazon.ca or enjoy free worldwide shipping at The Book Depository and cook along with us for the final couple of challenges.

And, you know, should you wish to purchase a meat grinding attachment for your Kitchen Aid, you can find one here.  Just, you know, remember to use the blade instead of leaving it in the box.

Congratulations to Hélène who won my Trudeau Kitchens wine giveaway! I’ll be in touch soon!

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46 Responses to Charcutepalooza September: A plethora of pork (pie and pâté)

  1. Inspiredbywolfe September 15, 2011 at 07:00 #

    It sounds like you and I had similar issues with the pastry. Apart from substituting goose fat for the butter, I also followed the pastry recipe exactly – and ended up adding more flour because it was not coming together. Your pork pie still looks delicious and I’m sure it tasted great!

  2. Mr. Neil September 15, 2011 at 07:06 #

    Not much to add…the pate was such a disappointment. It was in desperation we donated to street party, as otherwise I was going to chuck it in the bin. AND, I must say – was gobbled up fairly quickly there.

    Oh well.

  3. Curt September 15, 2011 at 07:37 #

    That looks so good. So nice and thick!

    I just ate pork pie while in Brighton, England a couple of weeks ago

  4. Belinda @zomppa September 15, 2011 at 07:51 #

    Love how much care and thought you put in this – I’m a huge fan of pate too and would have gladly – GLADLY – tried yours. The rustic pie is perfect.

  5. Natalie Luffer Sztern September 15, 2011 at 10:36 #

    Hi Mardi,

    Although I gave up actually doing the challenges (1st 3 were disaster = too costly) I read every single post I can. Can you tell me if this is bread or cracker that you served on because it looks wonderful

  6. Mosaica September 15, 2011 at 10:40 #

    I’m a big fan of your keeping it real idea, Mardi. Last month my three-fish terrine, while it had good flavor and texture, well, it was not in the least attractive, and it also fell apart when I tried to slice it. Oh well 🙂 I really love your wee rustic golden-brown pork pie; it looks delicious.

    As for the pastry, I don’t remember what Polcyn & Ruhlman’s consists of, but I had pretty good luck with a hot water crust pastry –have you tried one of these? I can’t say that mine turned out flaky or tender; it was more sturdy and satisfying. I like the idea of flaky, but I think a pork pie pastry needs to be extra burly to keep all that unruly pork in check!

  7. jenjenk September 15, 2011 at 11:26 #

    I think I’ve only had the terrine pate! wish I had thought to try the Pate de champagne! 🙁

  8. Helene September 15, 2011 at 11:47 #

    Thanks so much, I am so excited! I never did a pork pie the way you did it. I think I would also turn this recipe into small pies. I don’t have the grinder attachment yet, I will look into this.

  9. Linda September 15, 2011 at 11:50 #

    Hey Mardi, I,too had a hard time this month. I started with the Pate en croute and that failed. Turning to the English Pork Pie, I finally found success, which lifted my spirits.

    I think that the pastry splitting comes from how Charcuterie explains how to wrap it. I remember looking at Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s pie and she seemed to have rolled the two edges up and together, so I did something similar. It worked out well.

    I also didn’t cut up the pastry with my fingers. I once found or saw a perfect demonstration of how to pulse the flour and butter in a food processor, pulse in the liquid until it just begins to pull together, and then dump it all onto a piece of plastic wrap and just sort of press it into a disk shape. It has always worked for me, leaving a lovely, flakey crust.

    Nice post! I hope your spirits are lifted for the next challenge. Three months in the “Cinderella Meat Loaf” chapter is becoming a bit wearing….

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite October 8, 2011 at 07:48 #

      Yes I am finding the lack of photographs in Charcuterie a bit unhelpful for challenges like this…. I am very visual.

  10. Cecilia September 15, 2011 at 11:56 #

    The pork pie looks delicious! Hopefully you will get another chance to make a pate campagne. I just think it needs to be seasoned aggresively, otherwise it is easy for it to be bland. I love the look of the little seeded loaf crackers that you served the pate on, they look scrumptious!

  11. Scott_D September 15, 2011 at 13:58 #

    Mardi, we all seem to hit the wall sometime during this year of meat. I’ve been taking the easier challenges the last couple and that sure helped. I will someday though make the paté du compagne.

    About the dough: I liked that it was on the wet side. That way I could use a generous amount of flour when rolling it out and now worry about ending up with a dry dough. BTW, I used the food processor to make it. I always do now for my pie crusts. I find the key to be pulsing and not overworking it before turning out onto a board for the final part where it comes together. Linda above does the same.

    It’s only taken me 40 years of cooking to finally be able to make a decent pie crust!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite October 8, 2011 at 07:47 #

      Well that makes me feel somewhat better. I’ll be using the processor next time for sure!

  12. Lynn September 15, 2011 at 15:02 #

    This challenge was a hard one for me. I was so disappointed in my pate – yours looks pretty good, in comparison. I wish I had make the pork pie as well, I think yours looks great. I actually tend to like wetter pastery – it may not be beautiful, but I think the baked texture is almost always superior.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite October 8, 2011 at 07:46 #

      Yes I think the wetness helped it be flakier so in that respect it’s ok – but hard to work with.

  13. Paula September 15, 2011 at 15:46 #

    Rustic is good…seriously. Not everything has to be perfect and pretty to taste good. I think your pork pie is quite cute and your crust does look like it came out nice and flaky. Can’t add much about the pâté I’m afraid as I’m not a big fan of pâté (gee, what a surprise coming from me!) ‘cept of course Cretons which I don’t really think qualifies as a pâté. I just tell myself it is. LOL. In any case, I admire you and everyone else who has stuck with these challenges week in and week out.
    Think it’s neat that you had a street party, even better that everyone devoured your pâté de campagne.

  14. cathy September 15, 2011 at 15:47 #


    Great British Bake Off last week – pork pies with a neat piece on the protected Melton Mowbray pork pie.

  15. Mike@The Culinary Lens September 15, 2011 at 19:23 #

    I like the rustic pate de campagne . I think Pork pie needs to luck a little rustic anyhow. I remember making pork pies when I worked in the UK. I think I mae some kin of hot water paste which if I remember was never flaky

  16. Karriann Graf September 15, 2011 at 20:00 #

    What a gorgeous project!

  17. Rachel (Hounds in the Kitchen) September 15, 2011 at 23:55 #

    I’ve come to the conclusion that cured meat product just isn’t that pretty. It’s ok, so long as it tastes good!

  18. penny aka jeroxie September 16, 2011 at 08:01 #

    the pie looks awesome to me! I love the rustic look

  19. Dee Dee's Delights September 17, 2011 at 12:57 #

    Congrats on top 9! This looks amazing and yummy too!

  20. Christine September 17, 2011 at 16:43 #

    Congrats on Foodbuzz top 9!

  21. Stephanie - The Travel Chica September 18, 2011 at 14:07 #

    It’s always good to see the word “plethora” combined with “pork” 🙂

  22. K A B L O O E Y September 19, 2011 at 23:19 #

    Stephanie stole the words from my very mouth: pork plethora = pleasure. I am SO not making my own pate. I’m even too lazy to figure out how to get the accent marks on the vowels. But I bet yours tasted better than you said. The pie looks very tasty all browned up too. And fie on aspic! That’s my slogan.

  23. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction September 20, 2011 at 22:17 #

    All of these Charcutepalooza posts never cease to amaze me. I couldn’t do it, but all of your creations are just amazing!

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