If anyone could ever make meat mousse sound appetizing, it would be the French. Ask any kid how they feel about it, and the reaction you'd get will be either "blagh" or "icky." Yes, I did my research. I'll admit my sample size was somewhat small, but the ubiquitousness of the participants' reactions makes me believe the French did some dark magic back in the day to turn what most kids consider "icky" into one of the premium delicacies in the world any epicure would fight tooth and nail to defend the honor of.
Well. at least the epicures, who've been convinced to give it a try somewhere along the line it took to turn from that kid, finding liver pate "blagh"-worthy to an adult who's willing to give new things a try, even if that new thing is making their inner kid break out in hives.
Look, as someone who's a picky eater themselves and doesn't always find new flavors and textures all that delicious, I can get behind discounting an item or two, even if they're considered delicacies. What I can't get behind is not giving it a try before deciding it's not worth your time.
Not only is that unfair, it's simply rude to people who've not only fallen in love with said delicacy (like me!) but to people who've decided to devote their lives to creating the best version of it, like the women behind Alexian Pate.
What is Pate and Why You Should Add it to Your Menu:
Suppose you're already a pate connoisseur; good for you! You can go right to exploring the decadent assortment of pates at Yummy Bazaar's online French grocery store, brimming with options like Foie Gra, rillettes, liver confit, and rillettes.
But you've no idea what this meat mousse deal is all about; let me break it down for you in a few words.
French pate is a forcemeat paste (or, sometimes, a loaf or a pie). A forcemeat is a uniform mixture of lean meat with fat. The paste-like texture is achieved by first grinding the ingredients together and then sieving the blend to achieve the desired consistency, which can be either coarse or completely smooth.
Pate can be made from almost any meat: pork, beef, venison, chicken, turkey, duck, goose, and fish are all common pate ingredients. Once the ground meat is formed into forcemeat, it's flavored with herbs, spices, and often some kind of alcohol like wine or brandy (a cognac is a popular option).
Over the years, pate has evolved to include vegetarian ingredients as well. Nowadays, you'll easily find vegetable pates made from mushrooms, carrots, aubergines, cauliflower, etc. Basically, if a vegetable can be forced to replicate the thick paste-like texture of a pate, it can be made into a pate. There are purists, of course, who will tell you that anything less than duck or goose liver pate isn't a pate at all. But, frankly speaking, "the purists" have always been less open to new interpretations of the old gold than professional Chefs or artisan pate producers (like Alexian Pate).
The Story Behind Alexian Pate:
I wanted to put a spotlight on Alexian Pate for a reason: just a few weeks ago, its parent company, Groezinger Provisions, celebrated its 40th anniversary! Founded by a German expatriate to the US, Ewald Groezinger, in 1982, Groezinger Provisions offers quite a selection of European-style meat products, but it's the pate and mousses that they're primarily known for these days. It's not hard to see why, even though Ewald Groezinger would likely be somewhat surprised that it was a French delicacy that took the status of his company's crown jewel and not his native German one, especially considering his background.
A Stuttgart-born descendant of professional Wurstmachers (sausage makers), Groezinger was born with a love for fine charcuterie in his bones. He apprenticed with his father, himself a fine sausage maker, in his youth. During this time, he found himself not only interested in expanding his knowledge in producing other meat products but handy at giving them a unique flair that separated what he put on the table from other products on the market.
Once Groezinger moved to America, establishing his production was almost a foregone conclusion. Firstly, because he loved meat and meat products, thus sharing what he loved (and was good at) with the rest of the world seemed like a fine mission to devote his life to. Secondly, because the American market of the time wasn't as spoiled with fine artisan food as it is today, so occupying the niche seemed to be a good business decision, as long as he would be smart about it.
And by god, was Ewald Groezinger planning to be smart about it. He would offer his consumers something they wouldn't be able to resist: European meat delicacies made with high-quality, all-natural ingredients with no additives or preservatives. It would be sausages just like in traditional German shops, pates like under a French chef's hands, hams like in the finest Deli, and so on, and so forth.
While the success he saw in his life was nothing to sneeze at, he was, unfortunately, unable to witness the exceptional artisanal products it would be putting on our tables after four decades on the market. He wouldn't even be able to witness the birth of Alexian. Groezinger suddenly passed away in 1994, leaving his wife, Laurie, to assume the company's leadership. Laure was the mastermind behind Alexian, taking his husband's craft and elevating it to a new level. She named the brand after their children, making a portmanteau out of their names: Alexandra and Ian.
What Alexian Pate Offers the Consumers:
Under Laurie Groezinger's leadership, the brand's ideals remain the same as under Ewald's: to create the gourmet-quality product using the best ingredients because that's what ensures the best texture and taste.
The secret to tasty meat products is no secret at all, really. At least not to the team behind Alexian, because they try to be as transparent about their production as can be. No, they won't disclose the recipe for their fantastic goose liver pate; that's a trade secret. But they will tell you how they source their ingredients, what goes (and doesn't go) into their products, and or how they serve their local community.
Community is a big deal for Alexian Pate's team, in fact. As the website claims, its mission is to work not only for quality but for the community. They regularly contribute to Food Banks in several major cities and regularly donate to, including the one in their local community.
They also do a lot to mitigate the damage that can come with meat product production if the producer isn't careful - and they have credentials to prove it!
For one, the printed cardboard sleeves that Alexian Pate is packaged in hold the Forest Stewardship Council® seals. These seals are only approved once the company proves that the materials they use promote responsible forest management. Their shipping containers are made with corrugated cardboard made from recycled material. The inks they use are water-based. Being ecologically friendly (or as friendly as a meat product producer can be) is not just about being environmentally conscious but socially responsible as well. It's another way to serve the community.
For another, they source their meat only from vendors who have certifications that prove that their raising practices are humane and sensitive to the health and well-being of their stock. Alexian goes a long way to find the ones that stick to minimal confinement for the healthy growth and safety of their birds and animals, keep them on a vegetarian or grain diet, and, most certainly, don't utilize any antibiotics or growth stimulants.
The last part is crucial because keeping their product clean and natural is Alexian Pate's biggest goal. They take pride in being one of the very few artisan food producers whose meat products are not only additive-free and preservative free but don't even use common flavor enhancers like hydrolyzed plant protein.
Alexian Pate isn't just about making tasty products (and make no mistake, their products are amazing); it's about guilt-free consumption. Even if you're vegetarian or vegan, who measures the quality of what they consume not just by ingredients, textures, and flavors but also through the footprint it leaves behind, you can add Alexian Pate to your menu. They feel about the food the same way you do. It should be done diligently and with a heart to deliver the best results without taking shortcuts for short-term gain.
Alexian Pate Recommends: 3 Ways to Enjoy their Pates and Mousses
While the most common way to enjoy pate is just smearing some on top of a flaky cracker, a piece of toast, or bread, Alexian Pate recommends going a step further. Pate can be an incredibly versatile product if we're open to combining it with other ingredients, even if that combination seems counterintuitive at first glance. On Alexian Pate's website, you'll find multiple recipes that give port, vegetable, or goose liver pate an entirely new spin. Here are three of Yummy Bazaar's favorite ones:
Simple Crepes with Pork, Turkey, and Chicken Truffle Mousse
Alexian recommends pairing savory crepes with one of their most intensely flavorful options for a hearty lunch. Their crepes skip the sugar and instead go for chopped thyme, rosemary, and some black pepper to add flavor to the batter. Fry on a non-stick pan until dark golden-brown on both sides, then smear with a layer of truffle mousse and enjoy. If you're extra-hungry, you can make a more filling crepe wrap by adding some shredded fried chicken and grilled asparagus to the mix.
A Breakfast Bagel with Duck Liver and Cognac Mousse
I can't think of a better way to Americanize a pate dish than using it as a spread on what is arguably the most iconic American bread. According to Alexian Pate, you can skip the bagel and use toast or English muffin for the sandwich, but we say the bagel works the best.
Lightly toast both pieces of the bagel, then smear both of them with the duck liver and pork mousse with cognac. Add some sliced tomatoes and a fried egg (either scrambled or sunny side up) in the middle and enjoy.
Pork Chops Stuffed with Pheasant and Rosemary Pate
Adding the flavorful Pheasant and Rosemary Pate to the pork chops makes for an extra decadent dinner. It's especially convenient if the guests are coming over since it creates an illusion of putting in extra effort while keeping the recipe quick and easy. Just slice the pork chop horizontally without fully cutting it (rather, it should open like a book). Add around 2-3 tbsp of the pate as a stuffing, cover the chop up, and hold it together with toothpicks or a thin bamboo skewer. Top off with salt and pepper, and bake for 15 minutes. Then cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest for an extra 10 minutes. The dinner is ready to serve!