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Pate en croute

Pate encased in a puff pastry case makes a spectacular start to any meal. The pastry trimmings can be used to make an attractive decoration on the top and sides - flowers and leaves look especially attractive.

ingredients

1/2 kg (1 lb) streaky bacon
1/4 kg (1/2 lb) chicken livers, cleaned
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed with 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs
3 tbsp brandy
1 tsp grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper

To finish:
212 g (7 1/2 oz) packet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten

method

1. Remove and discard the rinds from all but six rashers of the bacon, reserving these for lining the pate tin. Mince the rindless bacon together with the chicken livers then transfer to a mixing bowl. Stir in the remaining ingredients with black pepper to taste.

2. Stretch the reserved bacon rashers with the blade of a knife and use to line the base and sides of a 1 kg (2 lb) loaf tin or 1 litre (2 pint) terrine or pate dish, reserving two rashers for the top.

3. Spoon in the pate mixture and place the two reserved rashers on the top. Cover with foil. Stand the tin in a bain marie of hot water and bake in a moderate oven (180°C/350°F or Gas Mark 4) for 45 minutes, or until the juices are just faintly pink and the pate has shrunk away from the sides of the tin.

4. Pour off the excess fat. Remove the pate from the bain marie and leave to cool for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, roll out the dough thinly. Remove the pate from the tin or dish, brush with some of the beaten egg and cover the pate with the dough, sealing the edges well with beaten egg.

5. Use the dough trimmings to decorate the top and sides. Brush all over the pastry case with the remaining beaten egg, place on a dampened baking sheet and bake in a fairly hot oven (200°C/400°F or Gas Mark 6) for a further 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden-brown.

6. Remove from the oven, transfer to a serving platter and allow to become completely cold before serving.

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