New Years appetizer trend: Pate recipes

Dec 30, 2008 at 4:28 p.m. ET

The word pâté is typically associated with the lofty Pâté de Foie Gras made from fattened liver of ducks or geese. However, the controversial issues surrounding foie gras has resulted in an upsurge of pâtés made from a delectable array of other, albeit non-controversial, ingredients. Serving a pâté or two for a New Year's Eve cocktail party or as an appetizer for a New Year's dinner will lend an effortless elegance to both your casual and upscale get-togethers. Pâté novice? Read on for recipes and tips to serve the perfect pâté.

Various Pates on Plate

What is pâté?

"Pâté is basically a spread that can be eaten in many ways but most traditionally on toast," explains Margaret Carter, founder of The Patchwork Traditional Food Company. "It can be made from meat, vegetarian ingredients, fish or game."

As compared to the infamous – and controversial – pâté de foie gras, Carter, who has been passionate about pâté for over 25 years, proudly says, "Our pâté is made with organic chicken liver or venison liver with none of the issues surrounding foie gras."

Not all pâté tastes like liver

Many people shy away from pâté because they've had pâté that tastes heavily of liver or they've never actually eaten pâté because of the liver. Though traditional pâté is made with liver, there are many ways to prepare this flavorful spread so liver is not the forefront taste.

According to Carter, Patchwork's pâté, which is currently available in select gourmet food stores in New York and can be ordered online at, is made in small batches with only natural ingredients and cooked in such a way that their signature pâté has a sweet flavor and none of the bitterness associated with liver.

In addition, you can puree other meats as well as vegetables and grains to make liver-free pâté or even vegetarian pâté. The versatility of pâté lends itself to pleasing all of your New Year's Eve party guests as well as family and friends for food-centric get-togethers throughout the year.

Serving suggestions for pâté

New Year's Eve party nibbles

Pâté is an elegant offering for holiday cocktail parties or simple weekend get-togethers and can be served with miniature toasts and crackers for appetizers. "The really professional way of presenting pâté is with melba toast, and pâté is great served with a chutney or pickle on the side," suggests Carter.

For party nibbles, Carter recommends pâté-stuffed mushrooms. She says, "You can take some small button mushrooms, remove the stems, fill them with pâté then push two together to make little balls, dip them in egg and bread crumbs then deep fry them." (Carter says Patchwork's Dragon's Welsh Pâté is particularly divine for this appetizer.)

Mouthwatering entrees

But pâté isn't only for appetizers, this delectable spread can be used as a component of other dishes. Carter is particularly fond of a spin on a hearty beef classic. "One of my favorites that I cooked with my grandchildren recently is Beef Wellington, where you wrap a filet of beef spread with pâté – mushroom and garlic pâté is best for this – in puff pastry and bake it in the oven."

Carter also suggests slicing a pocket in chicken breasts, filling them with pâté, wrapping the chicken in bacon and then baking it in the oven. You can do this with pork chops or cuts of beef as well. Another superlative idea is to spread pâté on a boneless, skinless salmon fillet and wrap it in phyllo dough before baking it in the oven.

"There are really no strict rules, I say experiment," concludes Carter.

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