Welcome to The Storied Recipe! This recipe for Polish Pasztet comes to us from my podcast guest, Gabriela Houston, author of The Bone Roots, a novel that draws heavily on Slavic folk tales (and features a Wild Boar Pasztet). Make sure you listen to Gabriela's story while you make this Pork, Beef, and Chicken Liver Pâté.
Pasztet is a delicious, soft, rich Polish pate made from variety of meats, vegetables, bread, and stock. chicken livers.
I've documented before, in this Steak and Kidney Pudding recipe, that I'm a novice with organ meat. But once again, I was pleasantly surprised. For me and my family, this recipe absolutely divine! A crusty piece of bread, slice of pate, and sharp smear of horseradish hits all the right notes for a quick and satisfying meal.
Although Pasztet can be eaten on simple sandwich nights, it is also served for special events like Christmas, Easter - or, as Gabriela depicts in The Bone Roots, for a wedding.
The sun was streaming through a narrow window high up on the wall, and the whole kitchen was warm with the steam rising from Motik’s pots. The cook himself was making a pashtet, the finest in all of Torlow, if he was to be believed. The mixed meats were all cooked with vegetable stock in a large pot, with selected herbs measured out by Motik himself, proudly secretive on this occasion.
He would later mince the meats and mix them with liver, milk-soaked bread and eggs, then he’d bake it all in tins till every single member of the household made an appearance in his kitchen, drawn in by the aroma. Only then would Motik, with the absolute authority of a lord in his keep, bring out the smallest tin of his pashtet, baked separately from the ones for the party...
When he was ready, and only then, would Motik bring out a board with the coveted pashtet on it and a cut crusty loaf. He would slice the bake thinly, as carefully as a city surgeon. He’d place a slice on each piece of bread and top it off with the tiniest smear of horseradish, freshly grated that morning.Pasztet for a Wedding in The Bone Roots by Gabriela Houston
- Basic Technique
- Top Tips
- Food safety for All Pâtés Using Chicken Liver
- Author Gabriela's Houston's Pasztet Memories
- Listen to Gabriela Now
- Follow The Storied Recipe in Your Favorite Player
- More Eastern European Recipes
- Polish Pasztet Recipe: Pork, Beef, and Chicken Liver Pâté
Make a stock
- Add a variety of meats, vegetables, and seasonings to a pot and simmer on low for at least 90 minutes
- This step is not just a way to cook the meat - the stock itself is a key element Pasztet.
- In fact, many economical home cooks make Pasztet after making Rosół, Polish chicken soup. It's a great way to use up the boiled meat and vegetables used to make chicken stock.
- Let stock cool.
Soak the bread
- Soak a white roll or part of a loaf in the stock
Grind the meat
- Gabriela uses a small-eyed mincer and minces 3 times. I believe this is the same as a meat grinder, which The Polish Kitchen uses.
- I don't own a mincer/grinder (nor do most Americans), so I used a food processor! I used the slicing blade first, then went back with the mincing blade to reproduce Gabriela's multi-step process.
Taste, Season, and Add More
- Taste and season the mixture.
- Add prunes, pistachios, and herbs.
- Once the flavor is as desired, add eggs.
- Finally, if you want a softer and more spreadable pate, add more stock.
Bake and Serve
- Grease and line long thin baking tins with breadcrumbs or parchment paper.
- Bake 90 minutes
- Slice thinly and serve simply with bread and accompaniments.
Pasztet is an unpretentious, unfussy dish.Gabriela Houston
The important thing to remember is that ingredients vary from recipe to recipe, family to family, cook to cook, even occasion to occasion.
- Chicken (Whole, legs, breast, etc;)
- Pork Meat (often shoulder)
- Venison (deer meat)
- Always: Bacon (traditionally smoked, not in Gabi's) or pork belly - anything that adds lovely pork fat
- Chicken liver is most common, although you can choose other livers
- Chicken livers are cheap and easiest to procure. They also have the least strong flavor.
- Liver is very high in essential nutrients, particularly iron.
- Gabriela says the liver is absolutely essential for the flavor and softness of the Pasztet.
- The soaked bread thickens the mixture.
- Also, perhaps more importantly, the bread carries the flavor of the stock into the Pasztet.
- Gabi's calls for carrots, leeks, onions, parsnips
- Anything you prefer for a stock: celery and mushrooms mentioned in quite a few recipes (and Gabi discusses foraging for wild mushrooms with her grandparents; I have to believe they are in there.)
Is Polish Pasztet spreadable?
- In addition to asking Gabriela, I read at least a dozen recipes to find the answer to this question. The consenus: It depends!
- The vast majority (including Gabriela) say the Pasztet is mean to be sliceable, but soft.
- However, all concede that Pasztet can be a spreadable pate, if you prefer. Simply add more stock to the mixture. (see Basic Technique below.)
- Taste and season before adding eggs
- All pasztet recipes (that I've seen) make multiple loafs. If you're not serving a big crowd, freeze the pasztet mixture up to 3 months. Defrost, put in baking tin, and bake fresh!
- Store in the fridge up to 3 days.
- Two freezing methods:
- Bake, cool, wrap in foil, then saran wrap (cling wrap), and freeze up to 3 months.
- The better option is to freeze the mixture unbaked and bake fresh.
- Large Stock Pot
- Meat Grinder OR
- KitchenAid Grinder Attachment
- Food Processor
- Long narrow loaf tin (You'll use both of these)
Food safety for All Pâtés Using Chicken Liver
- Start with fresh, high-quality liver from a reputable source. Look for liver that has a vibrant color and a clean, pleasant smell.
- Store any liver you're not immediately using in the refrigerator or freezer. Don't leave it at room temperature for extended periods.
- Cook the liver thoroughly to an internal temperature of at least 160°F (71°C) to kill any harmful bacteria. Use a meat thermometer to ensure accuracy.
- Prevent Cross-Contamination: Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw liver and its juices separate from other ingredients & use different cutting boards and utensils for raw and cooked ingredients.
- Chill quickly after cooking: cool the liver mixture quickly to below 40°F (4°C) to inhibit bacterial growth. You can use an ice bath or divide it into shallow containers for faster cooling.
- When serving leftovers, serve cold or reheat the pate to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) before consuming.
- When serving the pate, keep it at a temperature above 140°F (60°C) to prevent bacteria from multiplying. Consider using a hot plate or chafing dish for extended serving periods.
- Liver pate is best enjoyed within a few days when refrigerated. If you have a large batch, consider freezing portions for later use. Frozen pate can be kept for several months. Always inspect the pate for any signs of spoilage, such as off-putting odors, unusual colors, or mold. If you detect any of these, discard the pate immediately.
Author Gabriela's Houston's Pasztet Memories
My grandfather was a hunter and my grandma had access to wild boar meat, which she would make into the pasztet. My memory of it is linked to my summers in Mazury (Polish Lake District), where my grandpa had built a wooden cabin. I used to spend my whole summers there as a kid.Gabriela Houston
Listen to Gabriela Now
Gabriela is an author of adult and children's fiction books. Her latest work, "The Bone Roots," is an adult fiction novel deeply influenced by Slavic mythologies and her childhood memories of hunting with her grandfather and cooking with her grandmother in the forest.