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Oregon pâté the Old World way

Oregon pâté the Old World waydt.common.streams.StreamServer.jpg
Story by Kelly Fenley
Photo by Collin Andrew
The Register-Guard, Tastings
Aug. 27, 2014

It’s cooked in a terrine, sort of like meatloaf, only in a gourmet class of its own for delicate texture and super-rich flavor.

In fact it takes Bill Hatch, a chef for Market of Choice stores, a full three days to make each loaf of pâté (also called terrine).

People pay about $8 for a single, 5-ounce slice of the delicacy, which Hatch infuses with all-Oregon flavors, from local pork, duck and venison to morel mushrooms, hazelnuts and blue cheese from Rogue Creamery.

“I think pâtés are a great picnic item,” entices Hatch, 59, who’s something of a local legend for his soups and terrines.

He likes baguette best for pâté. Add pickles, cheese, fruit and a bottle of wine, and “you’ve got a picnic,” Hatch says. “You’re set.”

Legendary taste
If anyone knows the ancient art of terrine, it’s Hatch. Or so claims Greg Cabeza, artisan chef for all eight Market of Choice stores in Oregon.

During all of his travels far and wide, Cabeza says he never could find a gourmet pâté he really, truly liked. Not like what he was accustomed to, anyway.

“I knew there was something better,” Cabeza reflects. “I just kept it in the back of my mind and there on my tongue: ‘This doesn’t taste like Bill’s.’”

Cabeza had worked with Hatch about 15 years ago at the old Cafe Zenon in Eugene. The chefs butchered their own animals, and Cabeza marveled at how Hatch exquisitely rendered fats and proteins into terrines and other charcuterie.

“He’s definitely my Obi-Wan,” Cabeza says in praise of his former mentor.

So when Market of Choice decided to launch its own line of packaged charcuterie a couple of years ago — starting with Oregon pâtés — guess who Cabeza recruited for the job?

“I’ve been trying to get the old Zenon dream team back together,” he allows.

Technique to the T
The kitchen called Hatch at a young age.dt.common.streams.StreamServer-1

“I remember being in the fourth or fifth grade trying to make cookies and cupcakes, because that’s what I wanted to eat,” he says. “We always had a garden when I was a kid. My mom did a lot of canning. We lived out in the country a little bit, so we would forage for wild hickory nuts.”

He also loved literature, and to this day finds connections between his degrees — a bachelor’s in English, a master’s in fine arts — and cooking.

“Cuisine is the culinary language of a culture,” he says.

His pâtés capture Oregon’s bounty, even while Hatch crafts his terrines with feet in two very different worlds.

He’s at once the Old World artisan for charcuterie technique— especially those perfected over the centuries in France — and a contemporary food scientist for sanitation and even more complex recipes.

Each of his five current pâté blends takes about three days to make. “There’s a tremendous amount of technique involved,” he says.

Alcohols and vinegars are not so much for killing bacteria in raw foods these days, but Hatch still marinates with spirits — usually brandy or Madeira wine — for essential flavors.

Livers and other meats get seared just enough for a caramelized glaze, but are still raw in the center for what he calls “flavor molecules.”

Concentrated flavors come from reducing stock to the bone.

“I make all of this stuff from scratch,” Hatch says in reference to his duck stock. “I bone out whole ducks and roast the bones, and make the stock and reduce it down so that it’s a separate ingredient. The ducks themselves, I render the fat, so I have duck fat to utilize.”

There’s no pinch of this or dash of that, but only precise weights and measurements of the ingredients: salts; ground, cut or diced meats such as pork and chicken liver; spices like green peppercorns and orange zest; fruit like Bing cherries; culinary pickings, like hazelnuts and mushrooms; and dairy like blue cheese.

“For me, part of the interest is, you’re able to use ingredients to create something that’s totally unlike the separate ingredients,” Hatch says during a visit at his stomping grounds, the new, expansive Market of Choice central kitchen in west Eugene.

“But it’s interesting,” he adds, that the recipe techniques “were all developed centuries ago. So getting all of those proportions correct is really important.”

Into the oven
dt.common.streams.StreamServer-3Hatch strains the ingredients for smooth texture, then places the frothy “French meatloaf” mix into a terrine lined with caul fat — lacy membrane from an animal’s intestines.

The loaf is wrapped in a Cryovac bag, cooked for about four hours in a 185-degree steam oven, then blast chilled.

After compressed with a weight and allowed to sit overnight, the terrine is ready for market. Hatch cuts the loaf into 5-ounce slices, using a digital scale, then packages the pâté for weekly distribution to Market of Choice stores.

Altogether, it’s a three-day ordeal: one to prepare and marinate ingredients; a second to assemble; and a third to cook.

Pâté always has been “a tiny niche market,” with strongest sales during the holidays, allows Cabeza.

But soon, Market of Choice will add sausage to its new in-house charcuterie line. And for that, Cabeza already has his man for the job.

Best with pinot noir
Marni Furse, beverage manager for Market of Choice, suggests pairing pâté with a dark-fruit Oregon pinot noir, such as from Cameron Winery, Crowley Wines or Ayres Vineyard (all typically found in her stores).

Pâté by the package
Market of Choice currently produces five recipes of pâté, all sold in 5-ounce packages for about $8: Pâté with Green Peppercorns & Orange; Northwest Cherry & Blue Pâté; Country Pâté; Duck & Morel Mousse; and Chicken Liver with Madeira & Apples. 

Read The Register-Guard’s original story here.

Staff writer Kelly Fenley can be contacted at tastings@registerguard.com.