1. Prepare the pastry in advance so it has plenty of time to rest. Remove it from refrigeration long enough ahead of time to allow it to warm up slightly.
2. Prepare the molds by greasing them well on the inside. The directions here pertain to standard rectangular pâté molds. These usually are hinged and collapsible so it is easy to remove the pâté without damaging it. If you are using bottomless molds, then also grease the sheet pans on which they are to set. For molds of other shapes, modify the pastry-molding procedure as necessary to fit the shape.
3. For best results, mold the pastry so it is of even thickness, has no seams, and fits the mold perfectly. First, work the pastry with the hands for a few seconds to make it pliable. Then shape it into a rectangle and roll it slightly with a rolling pin to flatten it, keeping it quite thick.
4. Make an indentation down the center of the dough with the fingers. Gradually make the dough into a sort of boat shape. Dust the inside of the dough shape well with flour (to keep the two layers of dough from sticking together) and fold the dough along the indentation to make a pocket.
5. Gently roll out the dough to make a rectangle the size of the mold. Be careful not to roll the dough too thin, which would make it fragile. Open up the pocket.
6. Fit the opened pocket into the mold. Carefully mold the pastry to the shape of the mold by pushing the dough with your fingers. Make sure there are no air bubbles between the dough and mold. A ball of dough dipped in flour is useful for pushing the dough into the corners of the mold without tearing it.
7. If the pâté is to be made without a top crust, leave a rim of dough about 1A inch (5 mm) above the top of the mold. Crimp this rim to make a decorative border. If there is to be a top crust, leave a rim of half the width of the mold and let it hang over the sides. (For an alternative method, see step 10.)
8. The mold is now ready to fill. For display pieces, it is common practice to line the inside of the dough with thin sheets of fatback. For pâtés to be eaten, however, it is more appetizing to omit the fat lining. Fill the mold with the desired forcemeat and garnish as for terrines (see p. 860). Mound the filling slightly so the top crust, if used, will have an attractive domed shape. The dough should hold this shape even as the forcemeat shrinks and settles during baking.
If the pâté is not to have a top crust, it is now ready for baking. Skip to step 12. Baking without a top crust is easier and allows you to make an attractive aspic glaze with decorations for the top.
Fold the rim of the dough from the sides of the mold over the top of the filling. If using a top crust:
• Lay the sheet of dough on top of the mold, trim it to size, and remove it.
• Brush the edges of dough from the sides of the mold with egg wash.
• Return the pastry top to the mold and fit it in place, gently sealing it to the egg-washed dough.
10. As an alternative method for fitting the top crust: Leave a 1/4-inch (5-mm) rim of dough, as in step 7. Brush the inside of this rim with egg wash.
Roll out and cut a top crust slightly larger than the top of the mold. Place it on top of the filled mold. Crimp or pinch the two layers of pastry together with the fingers to seal.
11. Decorate the top crust with pastry cutouts, if desired. Seal the cutouts to the crust with egg wash. Make one or two vent holes in the top crust to allow the steam to escape. Fit pastry tubes into these holes to form chimneys in order to keep juices from running over the top crust and spoiling its appearance.
Preheat an oven to 400°F (200°C). Place the pâté on a sheet pan (if you are using a bottomless mold, it will, of course, already be on a sheet pan) and put it in the oven.
After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 350°F (175°C). The higher initial temperature helps brown the pastry. Bake at this lower temperature until the internal temperature reaches 160° to 165°F (72°C).
For an average rectangular mold, the baking time will be about 1 to 2 hours. Small molds that make 1 to 4 portions will take 45 minutes or less. For very large molds, use a baking temperature of 325°F (160°C) so they cook evenly. Extend the baking time accordingly.
13. Remove the pâté from the oven. Let the pâté cool to room temperature in its mold. For a pâté made without a top crust, first let it cool until it is warm. Then let it finish cooling with a weight on top in order to give the pâté a firmer texture. The weight should be large enough to cover the meat but small enough so it doesn't touch the pastry rim. This can be accomplished by cutting a board to the proper size, laying it in place on the pâté, and placing the weights on the board. (Obviously, this cannot be done if there is a top crust.)
14. When the pâté is cool, prepare an aspic jelly. Melt the aspic and flavor it, if desired, with a little sherry, port, or Madeira wine. Cool it according to the procedure on page 852. Fill the pâté with the aspic.
• If the pâté has a pastry top, pour the aspic through the vent hole or holes, using a funnel, until the pâté is completely full.
• If the pâté has no top crust, fill it with enough aspic to completely cover the top of the meat. Refrigerate until the aspic is set.
15. Remove the pâté carefully from the mold.
16. Pâtés without a top crust may now be decorated and reglazed with aspic if desired. Decorate as desired (using the materials suggested on page 852) by dipping the decorations in liquid aspic and setting them in place. Chill briefly, then apply a little more aspic to glaze the top.
17. For storage, handling, and presentation, see page 848.
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