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Twitter Challenge: Olive Loaf

Twitter Challenge: Olive Loaf

oliveloaf@fredspins asks: Do you want difficult or impossible? The former: olive loaf, the latter: bitter melon.

This reminds me of the scene in The Godfather Part Two when Michael admonishes his henchman for thinking it impossible to kill Hyman Roth in the airport. Nothing is impossible, @fredspins. Difficult yes, but not impossible. Thankfully we had someone else on staff willing to tackle the bitter melon, leaving me to ponder exactly why someone would want to make their own olive loaf. Seriously @fredspins, why? And just who would want to eat it for that matter too? Do a search on Google images if you dare or just imagine solidified pink slime with embedded olives and then tell me about your appetite.

My first instinct was to cop out, offer a recipe for the other olive loaf (homemade bread with olives) and call it a day. What fun would that be though? Then it hit me. The cold cuts of our country are essentially the charcuterie of our European brethren, albeit severely dumbed down and mass produced (hence the pink slime/olive deal). So why not reverse engineer the olive loaf to bring it in line with the spirit of the hand crafted product available across the pond? That’s what made the thought of making an olive loaf palatable. Pun intended.

The first dish I ever learned to make with duck as a protein was canard aux olives (duck with olives), a French classic. It’s delicious and its memory made the substitution of duck for pink slime seem like the correct choice. Same for the inclusion of ground pork shoulder because – but only because – I had successfully made a pate with it in the past. Kalamata olives were the olive of choice simply for the fact that they are purple and the olives in every loaf in that dreaded Google image search were green. A glut of seasonings, garlic, wine and cognac rounded out the mixture. The result: a funky country pate that went great with the crusty bread and leftover morbier cheese that was on hand.

“Olive Loaf” Duck, Pork and Olive Pate

2 lbs ground pork shoulder

¾ lbs ground duck legs

2 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp grated garlic

2 tsp chopped thyme

¼ cup white wine

½ Tbsp cognac

½ tsp black pepper

¼ tsp fennel seed, ground

½ tsp nutmeg, ground

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

½ cup kalamata olives, halved crosswise

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the meat, salt, garlic and thyme in a bowl using a wooden spoon or your hands. Add the white wine and cognac and combine again. Add the spices and combine again. Press 1/3 of the mixture into a standard loaf pan and then press half of the olives onto the top of the meat. Cover with 1/3 of the mixture and then press the remaining olives into the meat. Top with the remaining third of the meat and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Place a roasting pan in the middle rack of the oven and then place the loaf pan in the middle of the roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with water to halfway up the sides of the loaf pan. Bake for one hour and fifteen minutes. Remove and let cool in the loaf pan until it is almost room temperature. Remove from the loaf pan, discard any of the remaining rendered fat that might be in the loaf pan. Wrap the pate tightly with foil and chill for at least 24 hours before serving.

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