Pâté en Croûte (also stylized as Paté-en-Croûte or Pâté-Croûte) is a French delicacy that has been around for centuries and is gradually making a comeback to the world of fine dining and entertaining.
This is because diners' palates are evolving, and they are looking for newer, more refined ways to eat and entertain guests. Pâté en Croûte meets this need perfectly. Not only is it rustic, comforting, and wholesome enough to satisfy your appetite, but it is also so elegant and refined that you feel the joy of partaking in its storied culinary heritage.
In this article, we explore the history of pâté en croûte, the best pâté en croûte in the world, how to eat it, how to store it, and what goes well with this dish!
What is a Pâté En Croûte?
Pâté en Croûte is a French charcuterie that consists of a meat-based pâté or forcemeat wrapped in a crust - pastry dough - and baked until golden brown.
The filling includes finely or coarsely ground meat, poultry or game, and other ingredients that are seasoned to perfection like vegetables, various herbs and spices, nuts or dried fruits. The most common pastry dough used is pâte brisée, which is made from a blend of flour, unsalted butter, salt, and water, but you can also make it with a puff pastry dough.
After baking, the pâté en croûte is usually filled with liquid aspic. This is a savory meat stock that contains a high percentage of gelatin that sets as it cools. This liquid fills gaps inside the pâté and keeps all the meat filling in place, giving the finished product a unique look and texture.
History of Pâté En Croûte
Pâté en Croûte has been around since the Middle Ages and was originally a rustic dish made to preserve the meat and extend its shelf life. Remember there was no refrigeration system at the time! The crust was actually not made to be consumed but meant to protect the meat inside. In the 13th century, small meat pâtés were sold in the Paris area, mainly coarsely ground. At the Renaissance, the meat used was finely ground and the crust became edible. It then evolved into a way for chefs from the royal courts to present fanciful creations.
What began as a staple of medieval cuisine, this refined product turned into intricate pâtés studded with even more elaborate garnishes at royal banquets. The patterns that were revealed when these pâtés were sliced were truly breathtaking.
However, these edible mosaics fell out of favor and were forgotten for decades. It was only in the 18th and 19th centuries, during the “haute cuisine era,” that pâtés began gracing the gilded dining rooms of fancy restaurants in Europe and America once again.
From then until now, pâté en croûte has gained worldwide recognition among gourmands, chefs, and food nerds as the pinnacle of edible artistry.
Best Pâté En Croûte in the World
If you are looking for the best pâté en croûte in the world, you’ll find them in charcutier shops, bistros, and fine dining restaurants in France. They pay homage to the dish’s origins and traditions to create astonishing pâté en croûte that are not only beautiful to look at but also so delicious. There is even a French non-profit organization called “Confrérie du Pâté Croûte” which strives to promote this exquisite delicacy to the entire world. Pâté croûte is no longer strictly reserved for purely French gourmets. Since 2009, the Confrérie members have organized a Pâté Croûte competition with participants coming from every continent to battle on each first Monday of December at M.CHAPOUTIER winery at Tain-l'Hermitage, France.
If you don’t feel like crossing the Atlantic to get your fix of pâté en croûte, you should try Dufour's award-winning pâté en croûte.
Dufour is a French specialty food brand that offers a range of delicious pâtés by French Chef Aurélien Dufour, that are perfect for entertaining. The duck and fig pâté en croûte is made with high-quality ingredients, and has perfectly balanced flavors and textures sure to impress your guests.
How Do You Eat Pâté En Croûte?
Pâté en croûte is a cooked terrine that has to be kept refrigerated and served at room temperature. It can be enjoyed in several ways. It is an excellent addition to a charcuterie board, where it can be sliced and served alongside other meats, cheeses, and fruits/vegetables. It makes a stunning centerpiece and a great conversation starter as part of a cheese and meat platter.
It can also be served as a cold appetizer before the main course. Simply slice it and plate it up with a dollop of grain mustard, some pickles or preserves, and a fresh, zesty green salad to cut through its richness.
Any leftovers can make for a satisfying fix for a luxurious snack.
How To Store Pâté En Croûte
Keep your pâté en croûte in its original packaging or if opened, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. To further extend its shelf life, you could freeze it however the dough will get soddy once thawed (not recommended). This item is very delicate and should be enjoyed within a few days to fully appreciate all of its flavors. Pâté en croûte had to be eaten at room temperature.
Ingredients Used in Pâté En Croûte
There are many pâté en croûte recipes, but the forcemeat/filling typically includes finely or coarsely ground pork and livers as a base. It can also contain other kinds of meats like poultry, rabbit, pheasant etc and ingredients such as mushrooms, black truffles, or foie gras. Some variations of pâté en croûte also include fresh herbs and spices, and nuts like pistachios and dried fruits such as figs and apricots which will add flavors and depths to the dish.
The most common pastry dough used is pâte brisée, which is made from a blend of flour, unsalted butter, salt, and water, but you can also make it with a puff pastry dough.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, pâté en croûte is a classic French dish that has been enjoyed for centuries and is still a popular delicacy today.
If you're looking for a high-quality pâté en croûte, try Dufour's artisanal pâté en croûte, which is made with high-quality ingredients and has a perfectly balanced flavor and texture.
Remember to keep your pâté en croûte in the refrigerator and to consume it quickly. Serve it with your favorite accompaniments and a glass of red wine for a truly delightful dining experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does "en Croûte" mean?
"En croûte" is a French term that means "in a crust." It is used to describe dishes that are wrapped in pastry dough and baked until golden brown.
How to cut a pâté en croûte?
It is recommended to use a serrated knife. It will be easier to cut the outside crust to avoid breakage at each slice (about 1 finger thick), however breaking the crust during slicing is often inevitable. It is fine, it will still be delicious and it is part of the beauty of this famous charcuterie product!
What to serve with pâté en croûte?
Pâté en croûte pairs well with a mixed salad and various accompaniments including cornichons (small pickles) or other pickled vegetables, mustard, or fruit spread. Also, wine pairs perfectly with pâté en croûte—you can choose a red wine from the Burgundy region or any other fuller bodied red wine, and if you prefer white wines, we recommend a Chardonnay or even a Sauvignon Blanc. However, in the end the best wine partner depends on your personal preference and the flavor of your pâté en croûte.