Pâté, like caviar, is a dish associated with wealth, however, many people don't even know what it is. Mention pâté to those in the know and what comes to mind first will either be expensive gourmet duck liver or chopped liver. Both are correct, of course, but pâté is not limited to poultry. It can be as fancy as you like, suitable for the grandest occasion, or an inexpensive but rave-drawing appetizer at your home party.
Most pâtés are much simpler to prepare than you might expect. It can be served hot or cold but chilling it for a few days will enrich its flavor.
What is pâté?
Pâté (pronounced pah-TAY) is French for "pie." It is traditionally served baked in a crust (en croûte) or molded as a terrine. The crust, interestingly enough, was not originally intended to be eaten. The original purpose of the crust was actually to hold the pâté together.
Today, the terms pâté and terrine are often used interchangeably. Pâté is simply a mixture of seasoned ground seafood, poultry, meat, or vegetables, and often a combination of several different base ingredients.
Beef, pork, liver, ham, seafood, wild game, poultry, and vegetables are all candidates for pâté. The grind can be smooth and creamy or on the chunky side. It may be served hot or cold, molded or unmolded.
Where does pâté come from?
Pâté is most associated with French cuisine, but variations on this dish can be found all over the world.
It's possible that Americans who are unfamiliar with pâté are fans of liverwurst, unaware that the dishes are the same. Liverwurst, especially in sliced form, is a common sandwich filler for many.
Is liver safe to eat?
While liver is the organ used for removing toxins and waste materials from blood, that doesn't mean it stores them.
It's true that the liver is doing the bodies heavy cleaning, but that doesn't make the organ itself dirty or spoiled. Livers actually use a variety of vitamins and minerals in order to do its important job. These healthy nutrients are stored in the liver, which means it's one of the most nutritional organs a person can consume.
Pâté, especially when it's made from a fatty liver, is high in fat and cholesterol. The health benefits of the dish usually outweigh the negatives for most people.
Another benefit of eating liver that was recently discovered is what's known as it's an anti-fatigue factor. In laboratory studies done with mice, it was found that mice who ate even moderate amounts of liver had significantly more energy than those who did not. While scientists aren't sure what exactly it is in the liver that gives people such a significant energy boost, one thing is clear; it works!