Monday, November 03, 2008

Pâté Saxonne: Easy, hearty appetizer

I'll admit the idea for this German-inspired appetizer spread, though much modified, came from a magazine. It's not something I actually ate in Europe. But it's a hearty, tangy, satisfying appetizer spread for water crackers or thin slices of toasted bread, and it would go with schnapps. Or with a chilled crisp white wine, which I prefer.

In French the pâté is named 'saxonne' (Saxon style) because (Lower) Saxony is the German state where Braunschweig is located, the city that gave the soft liver sausage Braunschweiger its name. That sausage is the main ingredient for this pâté. Unlike the firmer baked pâtés characteristic of French cuisine, pâté saxonne is soft and designed for easy spreading. I prefer the readily available Oscar Meyer Braunschweiger from the local supermarket as the starting point for this dish.

The appetizer should be made a day in advance, or at least a few hours, and allowed to mellow in the refrigerator, ready for the appetizer tray or buffet. Ideally the bread or crackers served with it should be low in salt, so the pâté can be fully appreciated. A cold slightly acidic white wine goes well with this, a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio (Pinot Gris), but a dry German Reisling would also do well.

The recipe makes nearly a pint, plenty for entertaining. Half a recipe is enough for 4 to 6 people. Leftovers keep well in the fridge for a few days.

Pâté Saxonne Tim

1/2 of a small clove of garlic
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 (8-ounce) tube of Braunschweiger type liverwurst, Oscar-Meyer preferred
4 ounces (half a small package) Neufchâtel (lower fat) or regular cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne
1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
1 large or 2 thinner scallions (green onions)
1 tablespoon drained capers

Mash the garlic well in the salt, using the back of a spoon. Mix in the Braunschweiger, cream cheese, spices, and lime or lemon juice, using a fork to mash the Braunschweiger and the cream cheese. Finely slice the scallion, white and green parts, crosswise (cut scallions in thirds and line them up to slice more quickly). Stir the sliced scallion and the drained capers into the mixture, breaking the capers up a little with the fork.

Pack the pâté into a serving dish, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until needed. Serve with toasted thinly sliced baguette, water crackers, or melba toast.

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