We Irish look proudly at great cities like New York or Chicago and boast that our forbears built them. Our little island has sent its sons and daughters to all points on the compass to start new lives and to put down roots. Our influence spans the globe in science, engineering, literature and politics. When one looks to France, one sees so many of the great wine dynasties founded by the Irish ‘Wild Geese’. Names like Barton, Phelan and Lynch are all Irish and are now intertwined in the multi-generational success of the French wine trade. We have a lot of which we should be proud.
We love our overseas success. Yet, when I talk to people here in Dublin, so many of us resent foreigners coming here to seek a better life as so many of us have done elsewhere. On a recent taxi ride, I endured the driver’s tirade against “bloody foreigners” coming in and ruining the taxi business. I have to admit that the only way I can stomach this sort of crap is to stoke the fire with comments like “Yes, but the taxi trade used to be so corrupt” and “I believe the Revenue Commissioners are focussing on the taxi business at the moment.” then bring the conversation around to talking about some of my foreign friends, doing well, here in Ireland. I like to throw in a couple of grenades around our Irish habits of tax dodging and laziness too. That usually restores balance, leaving me in good mood and the narrow-minded racist fuming. Happy Days!
One “Bloody Foreigner” making her way here in Dublin is my friend Katia. She hails from France and no sooner had she arrived than she got busy stealing work from us Irish. When she is not earning income, doing a job an Irish person could do, she manages the Irish Food Bloggers Facebook page (Yes, a foreigner running OUR Facebook page). She also writes an excellent blog (that I’m sure an Irish person could do) called Proper Food. She rubs salt into our wounds by being extremely helpful and supportive of the Irish food blogging community. Perhaps it’s because we have so many “Bloody Foreigners” in our food blog group? I don’t know.
So to keep the racism level up where it ought to be, and to get some revenge on the interloping Frenchwomen, I am stealing a dish from them and cooking a French classic, Pâté de Campagne. One irony is that I use Piment d’Espelette to add some flavour. The Piment d’Espelette was a gift from Katia. Espelette being close by her grandmother’s home town (Bloody foreigners, trying to ingratiate themselves by bringing gifts). I also cook it sous vide (more French influence).
Ingredients for my Pâté de Campagne
- 300 gms chicken livers
- 425 gms pork shoulder
- 550 gms pork belly
- 500 gms streaky bacon
- 60 gms pistachios
- 3 teaspoons of red peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon of juniper berries
- 2 teaspoons of Piment d’Espelette
- 3 cloves of good garlic
- 2 eggs
- A large glass of white wine
- An equally large glass of Cognac
There is a fair deal of chopping in preparation for this dish. Roll up your sleeves and get stuck straight in. I tend to do the cutting in ascending order of sloppiness.
Skin and dice the pork. Keep as much of the fat as you can. Fat equals flavour!
Slice the pork shoulder into small pieces. Trim the bacon of its rind. Reserve enough to line two loaf tins. Slice the rest up small. Then prepare the chicken livers (the very sloppy bit of this exercise). Cut out the hard connective parts and discard. Slice the balance up nice and small.
Throw everything that has been chopped into a big bowl. Shell the nuts. Crack the eggs. Crush the juniper berries.
Mix the wine and brandy in a saucepan.
Bring this to a simmer and set fire to the mixture. Stay back to avoid burning your eyebrows. Burn off the alcohol until there is none left. The alcohol will not improve the flavour of the pâté when cooked sous vide.
Add everything (except the lining bacon) to the big mixing bowl.
Season with salt and pepper and get your hands in there and mix it as evenly as possible.
Line two loaf tins with cling film, leaving enough to comfortably wrap around the top. Then line the loaf tins with the bacon slices. Add the mixture until the tin is nearly full.
Tap the tins on the work surface to get any air pockets out. Fold over the bacon and add another strip if needed to complete the wrap.
Wrap in the clingfilm. Then vacuum seal the lot.
Place it in a sous vide bath at 65ºC for 5 hours. It may be cooked sooner but giving it 5 hours won’t do it any harm. I’d rather not take any chances. When it is cooked, cool it in an ice bath and then leave it in the fridge overnight. Then you can open it up. There will be a deal of jelly around it. This can be scraped off before serving this delicious dish to any foreigners or other people who happen to be at your table.
The eagle-eyed amongst you will have notice that this is only Part 1. In Part 2, I get to have a go at not only the French but some Mexicans who have infiltrated our lovely isle, bringing their own brand of generosity and pleasantry to try to erode our natural racism. Bloody Foreigners!