Dominique Moussu’s Pate de lapin aux Pruneaux

From Dominique Moussu

2009 Nov/Dec

Moussu is a chef and the owner of L’Epicerie. Making pâté is no more complicated than making meat loaf, its homespun North American cousin. The golden ratio of meat to fat in a pâté is 3:1. For a rougher-textured country-style pâté campagne, leave some meats in larger chunks. Use a heavy ceramic pot or terrine mould in a hot water bath to cook the pâté. This keeps for several weeks in the fridge. Most butchers carry caul fat and pork cheeks.


  • 2 4- to 5-lb. rabbits, bones removed, meat cubed, 4 tenderloins left whole
  • 1/2 c. brandy, Armagnac or cognac
  • 1/2 t. minced fresh rosemary
  • cracked white and pink peppercorns to taste
  • 2 t. kosher salt
  • 1 t. nitrites (a.k.a. “cure”– it boosts flavour and helps maintain good colour – 1%, available from CTR Refrigeration, 403-444-2877)
  • 1/4 lb. pork belly, cubed
  • 1/4 lb. pork shoulder, cubed
  • 1/2 lb. rabbit liver
  • 1 c. minced prunes
  • 1/2 c. brandy, Armagnac or cognac

court bouillon (recipe follows)

  • 1/2 lb. pork cheeks
  • 2 t. quatre épices (recipe follows)
  • salt and freshly cracked pink and white peppercorns to taste
  • caul fat (see page 13 for where to get caul fat) or slices of lean side bacon
  • 1/2 lb. pork fat, sliced thin (you need this if you are using caul fat)


Have your butcher bone the rabbits. Marinate the tenderloins with the brandy, Armagnac or cognac, rosemary and
peppercorns for 24 hours. Mix together the salt and nitrite, then rub it over the pork belly and pork shoulder. Cover and chill for 24 hours. Reserve the cubed rabbit meat in the fridge until ready to use.

When you’re ready to make the pâté,
macerate the prunes in the brandy, Armagnac or cognac for 20 to 30 minutes, or until softened. Drain and reserve.

Heat the court bouillon and poach the pork cheeks for 10 minutes to an internal
temperature of 175°F. Then shred them and keep them warm.

Use a meat grinder fitted with a coarse blade to grind the cubed rabbit, pork belly and shoulder, and rabbit liver. Mix together the ground meats, prunes, shredded pork cheeks, quatre épices, salt and peppercorns. Sauté a bit of the mixture and taste for salt content.

Turn the oven to 350°F. Line a 4” x12” ceramic terrine mould or 2-quart (medium-sized) ceramic pot with caul fat, if available, or bacon. Add half the ground meat mixture. Lay the reserved rabbit tenderloins down the centre of the terrine on top of the ground meat, then cover with the remaining meat mixture. Fold the caul fat or bacon strips over the top of the mixture. If using caul fat, lay the strips of pork fat overtop in a diagonal pattern.

Pick up the pan and whack its base on the counter to eliminate air pockets. Place the uncovered pan in a hot water bath – a larger pan with water in it (bain marie) – so that water comes 2/3 up the sides of the pan, and cook the terrine until the top starts to brown. Reduce the heat to 300°F and cook it to an internal temperature of 148 – 150°F, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Remove and pour out the juices from the cooked pâté, cover with parchment and place several cans on top to weigh it down. Refrigerate and age at least 3 days before slicing. Store uneaten pâté in the mould, covered. Makes one 4”x12” pâté.

Court Bouillon

Combine in a pot: 4 c. water, 1 each carrot, celery stalk and small onion, coarsely chopped, 3 garlic cloves, bruised, 2 thyme sprigs, 1 bay leaf and a couple of black peppercorns and simmer 30 minutes. Strain and discard the solids.

Quatre Épices

Although it is called “four spices,” this classic seasoning for pâtés and terrines is usually made of at least five spices. Mix the following together and store in a cool, dry place.

  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • 2 t. ground allspice
  • 1/8 t. ground cloves
  • 1/2 t. ground cardamom
  • 1 t. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 t. ground coriander
  • 1 t. each, freshly cracked white and black peppercorns
  • 2 t. finely crumbled dried tarragon
  • 1/2 t. finely crumbled dried marjoram