Garnish plays an important role in most pâtés, regardless of the type. Garnish adds color, a visually pleasing mosaic, varying textures, and, most important, flavor.
How should you think about garnish in a pâté? As you would with any garnish for any dish: Does the taste contrast or enhance that of the pâtés? Does it add the appropriate color? Is it the proper size? In a fine forcemeat, the garnish should usually be smaller and neatly cut. In a more coarse country pâté, the garnish may be unevenly sized and rough. Should it be random, small nuts or chunks or whole meat simply paddled into the pâté to wind up where they may? Or would the pâté benefit from a more structured approach, where you determine exactly where the garnish will stay in the finished pâté-a whole duck breast in a duck pâté, for instance? (This is referred to as a structured inlay and is completely enclosed in the pâté itself.) And how much to use? Not more than half of the pâté, or you may weaken the structure of the pâté. But not so sparingly that it appears to be an afterthought.
What follows are a few suggestions for garnishes that work well with specific meat, fish, and vegetable terrines.
All confits add a chewy texture and rich salty flavor to pork pâté. Smoked ham, smoked tongue, cooked sweetbreads, peeled pistachios or hazelnuts, pine nuts, cooked mushrooms, truffles, and some dried fruits (such as tart cherries, apricots, and prunes) all work to provide textural, visual, and flavor contrasts.
Game benefits from the same garnishes pork does, especially the dried fruits-tart cherries, apricots, raisins, and prunes.
In addition to the garnishes listed for pork, cooked hard vegetables also work for poultry, such as carrots or green beans. Roasted bell peppers are excellent. Soft Leafy greens such as spinach or arugula also go nicely with neutral-tasting chicken. Soft herbs, such as tarragon or chives, which can be chopped or laid in as a whole structured garnish, are particularly flavorful.
Veal takes the same garnishes as pork with the exception of dried fruits, which do not work well with veal.
FISH AND SHELLFISH
Soft leafy herbs, spinach, and cooked mushrooms are excellent in seafood pâtés, as are chunks of compatible-tasting seafood-whole shrimp in a lobster terrine, for instance.
Most vegetable terrines are light and soft like a custard. Any garnish, then, needs to be similarly soft and compatible so the pâté can be sliced cleanly-think cooked mushrooms, any of our vegetable confits, soft leaves of spinach or watercress, and soft herbs.
This excerpt is taken from Pate, Confit, Rillette by Brian Polcyn with Michael Ruhlman
Get the book, here.