Braunschweiger=liverwurst. I watched a show on the Food Channel where some chef was drooling over a particular preparation of liverwurst–but the recipe isn’t posted anywhere on the web. My present selection of books on charcuterie doesn’t have a recipe for braunschweiger or liverwurst. This didn’t change the fact of two pounds of our own pig’s liver sitting in my freezer.
I combed the web for recipes. I checked and compared proportions of liver to lean meat to fat. I listed the herbs and spices people used, and took careful notes on the various salt ratios. Then I sat back and looked at what I had. I used ham hock and a chop to substitute for the ideal equal weight in shoulder. I used a trimmed edge from my slab of fresh bacon for the belly fat. I added cream and a few other things. The following is for two pounds of liver–cut the ingredients in half for one pound.
Braunschweiger My Way
To blanch the liver:
1 1/2 cups milk
1 small onion, peeled and halved
1 tsp juniper berries
1/2 tsp allspice berries
2 whole cloves
2 lbs pork liver (from a pastured/foraging, heritage breed–not one of those poor commercial monstrosities), cleaned of ducts, fat and connective tissue
For the Paté
1 1/2 TBSP drippings, i.e. bacon grease
2 large onions, chopped
3 lbs lean pork shoulder, confusingly called “butt” much of the time or “Boston butt” or “Picnic Ham”
1 1/2 lbs of pork fat, from the belly for preference as it’s softer
1/4-1/2 cup cream
1/4 cup Calvados, brandy or quince liqueur
For the Spice Blend:
2 1/2 TBSP coarse salt (the finer it is, the less you’ll need)
2 1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 1/2 tsp whole juniper berries
2 tsp whole coriander seeds
2 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
1 1/2 tsp grains of paradise
1 tsp whole allspice berries
1 tsp black pepper corns
1 tsp ground sage
3/4 tsp whole cardamom seeds
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, put the milk, onion and the three spices. Bring the temperature up gradually then slip the liver pieces in. They should fit in a single, close layer. Shift them around occasionally and turn them once.In five minutes, turn off the heat.
Drain the liver and give the milk to the dog. Cut the liver into 1 inch chunks. Put parchment paper on a cookie sheet and the liver on that in a single layer. Set the liver in the freezer while you do the same with the lean and fat pork. The meat will need to sit in the freezer for about an hour. Blend the spices in your spice grinder until very fine and consistently so. In the bacon grease, caramelize–slowly–your chopped onion. Spread the caramelized onion onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and put it into your freezer. Deglaze the pan in which the onion cooked with the calvados/brandy/quince liqueur reduce the liquid by half. Scrape it out and set it aside to cool in the fridge.
Place a 1 1/2 gallon bowl in your fridge. Into your food processor, put about one third to one half the lean meat (depending on the size of the food processor). In pulses, reduce the half frozen meat to little meat bits. Empty the processor into the bowl in the fridge. In batches, process all the lean, the fat and lastly the liver–storing the cumulative results in the bowl in the fridge.
Take the big bowl o’ meat out of the fridge. Mix the cream, onion deglazing liquid, onions, and spices with all that meat. I wear nitrile gloves so that I can get in there and really mix and mix the stuff. Preheat the oven to 275°F.
For this volume of paté, I used three modest loaf pans and a smaller (pint) terrine. You could do this in very small containers–or two quite large ones, or whatever you have on hand which will suit your purposes. Brush your pans with water and line them with plastic wrap, leaving plenty extra. Spoon the paté into your chosen molds, and push it well down–again and again. Wrap the plastic wrap over the patés. If the containers have lids, put them on. If not, aluminum foil works well.
In a deep-sided roasting pan (more than two inches say), place the braunschweigers. Set the pan in the oven, pulling the rack out slightly. Fill a tea kettle with the hottest tap water you have. Pour it carefully into the roasting pan, so that it doesn’t splash into the paté molds. You want enough water to come a little over half way up the sides of the molds. Bake for an hour (for a braunschweiger under a pint in volume) to an hour and a half. You’re looking for an internal reading of 150°F on a meat or instant read thermometer.
Let the braunschweiger cool slowly, weighted with heavy jars or cans so that they stay compact and easy to slice when they’re cold. After three hours, you may pull the loaves from their molds and remove the plastic wrap. Set them back in their aspic, put the lids back on their containers and rest easy knowing you’ve got a homemade braunschweiger which will last you ten days under proper refrigeration–and it tastes better than any version of this dish you’ve ever had before in your life. It’s also more full of texture. I think you’re really going to love this.