About a year ago I bought “The New Midwestern Table” by Amy Thielen, and the first recipe which caught my eye was how to make Braunschweiger, which is a liver/pork/bacon pate of German origin which is popular in the upper Midwest. This is a bit of a project and requires a meat grinder, but is another case where there is a lot more elapsed time than actual work time. The final product is a very tasty and smooth liver pate, which is excellent on Russian rye bread. Like much charcuterie, a key to success is processing the meat mixture when well chilled and not being afraid of fat. Here is my adaptation of the Amy Thielen recipe:
1-1/2 tsp black pepper
1-1/2 lbs. fatty pork (like pork butt)
8 oz. bacon
8 oz pork liver
2 tsp. oil
2 Tbs. butter
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
6 Tbs. medium dry sherry
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. dried marjoram
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
pinch cayenne pepper
1/3 cup pistachio nuts
Mix together the salt and pepper.
Cut the pork into 1 inch cubes and put it into a large pot with the bacon and 3/4 tsp of the salt and pepper mixture. The ideal pot size is so that the meat forms a single layer. Cover with just enough water, bring to a boil, and then simmer until the pork is very tender, around 3 hours. Drain the pork and bacon, saving 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid (including the fat). Refrigerate the pork and bacon until well chilled. Also chill the reserved cooking liquid.
Cut the liver into one inch cubes. Heat a frying pan, add the oil, and then fry the liver until browned on the outside, but still pink in the middle, around 5 minutes. Remove the liver to a bowl. Add the butter to the pan and then the onions, and cook over moderate heat for about 20 minutes until sweet and golden. Add the garlic, and cook a few more minutes. Add the sherry and cook until the sherry has evaporated into a glaze on the onions. Add the cream and simmer until the cream has thickened. Combine the pan contents with the liver and chill well in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Set up a meat grinder using the fine grinder blade. Alternating the pork/bacon and the liver/onion mixtures, feed them into the grinder and catch the ground mixture in a large bowl. Feed the mixture a second time through the grinder to make it smooth.
Set up a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Place in the bowl the ground meat mixture, the rest of the salt and pepper mixture, the spices and the reserved cooking liquid. Mix with the paddle attachment until the mixture is light and fluffy. Pan fry a small sample and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Put the mixture in a 9 x 5 loaf pan, which is then placed in a larger lasagna or jelly roll pan. Fill the outer pan with boiling water until it comes halfway up the sides of the loaf pan. Bake in the oven until the braunschweiger reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees, which will be around 50 minutes. Remove the braunschweiger from the oven, cool to room temperature, remove from the pan, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator.
Serve with rye bread, mustard, and cornichons.