We moved out of the city almost a year and a half ago. It seems like ages ago, but really has not been. However, what we found in the burbs from a dining perspective can be described most nicely as “limited”. Coming from Chicago, where we could stumble down the street for any number of great things to eat and having dozens of great places to deliver food to us, it was a shock. Since moving, we’ve adjusted. We have bought a second car. My garden has grown exponentially. But, some adjustments will never be made. We usually travel into the city to eat out and go in to do so as frequently as we went out when we lived in the city.
There are so few options near us that a place serving real quesadillas with handmade tortillas four miles from our house qualifies as destination dining for me. The quesadillas are hidden on the last page of the menu and caught my eye when I saw nopales, huitlacoche, flor de calabasa, and chorizo. I was concerned, given what I have seen in the area, these would be ortega flour tortillas and shredded cheez. Since discovering the deliciousness of the huitlacoche and nopales quesadillas, I have adopted a more regular weekend lunch pattern of grabbing lunch while out (like a normal person).
When I saw in the nearby bodega, a jar of huitlacoche, I picked it up. I had a half dozen ears worth of corn smoked over corn cobs (meta) to go along with the huitlacoche. When I opened the can, I was surprised by how ugly the contents were. Black sludge with large kernels, corn silk and everything. Knowing this was corn smut, mold and fungus, I was ready. After all, I had the real thing in the kitchen last summer from a local farmer. That was a different animal. Even so, I wanted to embrace the horrifying appearance and make something where I saw the ugliness. I didn’t want to hide it in a casing or puree it into a sauce, so I made a pate. Cross sections of black-hued pork with flecks of fungus throughout.
As ugly as it was, there was a deep richness to the pate coupled by a really unique savory quality with the combination of the smoked sweet corn, the pork and the huitlacoche. The corn brings a smokey flavor, but also a bit of color among the muddy, ugly pate.
Huitlacoche & Smoked Corn Pate
750 g fatty ground pork, I ground a fatty pork shoulder
150 g smoked corn
250 g huitlacoche
20 g kosher salt
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
4 cloves garlic, grated
1 serrano chile, roughly chopped
10 grams all-purpose flour
1 large egg
70 milliliters heavy cream
Step one: Assemble your gear and cut your pork shoulder into one inch cubes, run it through your meat grinder using the fine disc. Refrigerate.
Step two: Add corn, huitlacoche, salt, cilantro, garlic and chile
Step three: Assemble the panade and combine with the forcemeat. Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, mix the forcemeat/panade until it is sticky.
Step four: Line the inside of your terrine with plastic wrap. Form the mixture into a loaf and place it inside the terrine. Fold the pastic wrap over the loaf, cover, and place terrine into a high sided roasting pan. Fill the pan with water until in reaches 2/3’s of the way up the terrine. Place in a preheated 300 degree oven and cook to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
Step five: Remove terrine from oven and place a two pound weight on the pate to weigh it down until it cools to room temperature. Once cooled, refrigerate overnight.
Step six: Slice the Pâté about a centimeter thin and serve with salsa and corn tortilla.