Housewarming pâté en croûte
Special transom edition
As a celebratory gesture of gratitude for the surrogate folks upstairs who have provided K&C’s new digs underneath theirs, a time-honored meatloaf with classical sensibilities was offered for the equally esteemed housewarming bash. Friends chit-chatted around a 2/3rd’s of February BBQ hearth while others hobnobed along the lengths of a communal table courtesy the Mrs.’s dexterous family and her farm’s reclaimed wood. Fare was represented by assorted cheeses, suds, dips, juices, pickles, kabobs and a particularly delightful elixir from Jeremiah Weed: “spiked cola”, reminiscent of Root liquor; an equally savory tonic which tastes remarkably similar to its namesake despite an alcoholic proof of 80. Root is limited to the Philadelphia region, however those in The District can score a sip between smoked sandwiches and home tinkers hot sauces. If there were ever a delicious, somewhat innocuous way to get pasted, it would be on this variety of sarsaparilla. As for trying to get juiced on “spiked soda”, good luck with that. The sugar from chug-a-lug session equivalent to sucking down a 12 pack of RC Cola should cancel any effects of inebriation or need for sleep…or toothpaste.
The transom themed pâté was unveiled with modest fanfare as there were concerns that the beast’s core and shell shared the rickety, artisan craftsmanship of the octogenarian venue. Despite proper cookery and measurements, and obstruction prevented the aspic from filling in the entire void left by the shrunken forcemeat. As with most dwellings designed during the Wilson administration, the roofing is prone to a leak or two, and, in extreme(ly resourceful) desperation, can be remedied with a generous spackling of butter, or, in times of financial ruin, a liberal smear of thrifty all-purpose lard.
The forcemeat was comprised of 70% pork & chicken livers with a 30% garnish of pig’s tongue, pig’s heart, shoulder meat, pistachios, Piglet’s stutter, dried figs and fatback. Tongue, heart, oink and lean shoulder meat was cured in a 5%/2.5%/.25% salt/sugar/#1 brine for about a week or so whereas the remaining shoulder meat was left to marinate in brandy, port wine, olive oil and aromatics in the form of carrots, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaf, allspice, hogwarts and a splash of awesome.
Pastry was a standard 50% fat shortcrust (70% lard, 30% butter) which has proven successful in previous applications. The pork tongues were simmered until tender, their outer skin removed and diced along with the other garnishes. The marinated meat was drained, ground twice with the chicken liver then puréed in the food processor with an egg and some ice water to ensure a smooth emulsification. It was seasoned with salt and #1 in the proportions of 1.5% and .25% by the weight of said paste since the diced meat garnishes had previously been introduced to their seasoning agents. Once all the ingredients were collected and enthusiastically mixed with even distribution, the mold was lined with the pastry while Dick Gordon told some stories on the radio.
The matter or decorative ornament deemed worthy of a house acquisition and its subsequent warming by revelry was addressed. Transoms, the iconic DC housing accents so dutifully documented by the Prince of Petworth provided inspiration and eventually aesthetically pleasing pastry trim surrounding the numeral distinction was sculpted. Several coats of egg-wash affixed the highlights and ensured a decadent oven-baked tan.
After sufficient time in the hotbox necessary to achieve a desired internal temperature of 150ºF and desirable coloration, the edible structure was left to cool and firm up. One immediate issue of concern was the considerable amount of juices that flowed from the chimney upon piercing the forcemeat with a thermometer. The resulting protein heavy juices may have congealed during refrigeration and obstructed what should have been a channel above and around the forcemeat which would later be filled with aspic. A minimal amount of aspic made its way in leaving a blister of sorts at one end of the piece.
Otherwise, the texture and flavor of both the forcemeat and pastry were commendable. A moat of aspic between the pastry and forcemeat would have offered and exceptional product. That missing space is a measurable incentive for a more harmonious orchestration of fat, flour, meat, jelly and flavor.