’Tis the season for festive soirées and holiday dinners. I love the French cuisine served at this time of year. You might see oysters, foie gras, filet de boeuf and of course bûche de Noël for dessert. Pâté is also a staple dish on many menus now and at most times of the year. The French recipes for pâté can vary greatly to include pork, veal and/or chicken liver. Given the rise of vegetarians at my holiday parties, I decided to try my hand at a meatless pâté that uses wild mushrooms as the main ingredient.
Mushrooms are another one of those perfectly Parisian items for me. Once fall hits, I get excited to see the wide range of mushrooms on display, from girolles to cèpes, and chanterelles to pleurotes (oyster mushrooms). Many of these varieties can be found in the United States as well as other countries around the world. This recipe works with whichever mushrooms are native and available in your hometown. I also included some dried mushrooms that add a very robust flavor for those who love the woodsy taste of mushrooms as much as I do.
The serving style of pâté is as varied as its ingredients. Serve it cold in a rectangular or oval dish and you have a terrine. Place pastry around the pâté and you have pâté en croûte. Because it’s the holidays and everyone is always pressed for time, I say simply mix your ingredients together and serve your pâté in a beautiful porcelain dish after refrigeration.
Another quality to love about pâté is that you can make it a day or two before serving, and the flavors actually further develop while it sits in the refrigerator. And what can be better at the holidays than saving time in the kitchen so you can spend more hours with friends and family over delicious food. Joyeux Noël et bon appétit!
16 ounces mixed wild mushrooms, like shitake, cremini, oyster
1 ounce dried mushrooms, like porcini
4 ounces minced shallot
4 ounces goat cheese
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon piment d’Espelette
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons truffle oil
4 ounces toasted walnuts
salt and pepper to taste
toasted baguette slices for serving
cornichons for serving
1. Place the dried mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes.
2. Melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet. Add shallots and cook until translucent, nearly brown, being careful not to burn them.
3. Clean fresh mushrooms with a lightly moistened paper towel. Slice and add them to the pan along with the fresh thyme. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook 10–15 minutes, until dry and browned.
4. After the 30 minutes has elapsed, drain the dried mushrooms and pat dry. Add the dried mushrooms to the skillet, along with the juice of the lemon and the piment d’Espelette. Stir to combine.
5. When all the liquid has evaporated, remove from heat and add the balsamic vinegar, goat cheese and 1 tablespoon of the truffle oil.
6. While the pan mixture is cooling, chop the walnuts in the food processor. Add the contents from the skillet to the processor and combine until mixed but still slightly chunky. Place all contents in a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.
7. The next day, add the rest of the truffle oil and serve on toasted baguette slices with cornichons.