Rustic Lambs & Clams Pâté with Lamb Crackers for the Charleston Wine & Food Festival’s Recipe Contest


It’s been four months since we kicked off the Lambs & Clams Cooking Contest with the BB&T’s Charleston Wine & Food Festival.  In case you are not familiar with this contest, the winner will be awarded an all-expense paid trip to the festival in March and will have their winning dish prepared at one of the events, Pinot Envy Uncorked.  It would truly be an honor to attend this event and to have one of my recipes prepared during the festival, so I would appreciate your support in the voting process.


This is the last of the four challenges.  Thank you so much to Craig Rogers of Border Springs Farm in Patrick Springs, Virginia and to Travis Croxton at Rappahanock River Oysters in Topping, Virginia for coming up with the idea and for all of the fabulous products you have sent to us for our recipes.  This month’s ingredients are ground lamb and Olde Salt Clams.

Several of my dishes in this contest were inspired by Charleston’s history, a focus on Southern ingredients, and the regional culture.  I have incorporated and supported local farmer’s and artisan’s ingredients in these recipes.  During the process of making these recipes, I have purchased similar ingredients prior to receiving the shipments from Craig and Travis and have made these recipes at least two or three times to fine-tune the flavors and get it right.  I have also had several taste testers judge my recipes during this process to be sure they are everything I want them to be.  I know these recipes work and are delicious and I hope that you will try several in your own home.

I was excited to win the first two challenges, one for my Tennessee Whiskey and Sorghum Brined Leg of Lamb and the other for Southern Rockefellas.  However, the judges did not like my last dish, Epaule d’Agneau (Lamb au Vin).  It was my riff on Coq au Vin.  My overall score from the judges was very low, so it makes this, the final challenge, quite important.  The flavors were outstanding in that lamb dish.  I am not sure why they graded it as they did, but I knew I needed to create something unexpected for this round.

Rustic Lambs and Clams Pâté with Lamb Crackers is my entry for this challenge.

While creating a pâté may sound difficult, it is incredibly simple to make, although it could require an overnight stay in the refrigerator, depending on how you chose to finish the pâté.

In addition to the lambs and clams that we received, I incorporated local ground pork from Thompson Farms in Dixie, Georgia (of course, you can use any ground pork) and chicken livers from Bell and Evans (who sell locally here in Georgia) in this recipe.  You could certainly use lamb livers if they are available at your market, but you may need to adjust the seasonings.  Remember, “no guts, no glory,” as the organ meat kicks up the flavors.

I made the first trial run of my pâté with the meat mixture containing just ground lamb and chicken livers and the second with a mixture of ground lamb, pork, and chicken livers.  The second was the preferred recipe by all, so I have gone with the latter.  Since most people will have a 5-cup loaf pan, this recipe was developed for that size pan, however, you may also use a pâté terrine, if you have one.

First, prepare your loaf pan or pâté terrine and line with bacon strips.  Then, combine the meats with the seasonings in a large bowl.

Line your pate terrine pan with bacon strips

Line your pan with bacon strips

Add the spices and cognac to the raw meats

Add the spices and cognac to the raw meats

Sauté portobello mushrooms with seasonings and Cognac, followed by the clams.  You just want to warm the clams and mellow the flavor of the Cognac for a minute or two, slightly reducing the liquids.

Saute the portobello mushrooms and then

Saute the portobello mushrooms with seasonings, add the Cognac, and then the clams


Olde Salt Clams

Layer the meat mixture alternately with the clam mixture; be certain to press the mixture tightly into the pan after each addition.  This will create the proper texture desired for the pâté.


Layer the meat mixture alternatively with the clam mixture

Place a bay leaf on top of the meat mixture and top with bacon slices.  Seal the dish properly (tightly wrapped aluminum foil for a loaf pan or the lid and a flour paste for the pâté terrine) and set in a hot water bath in a larger container and place in the oven.   Bake for two hours at 325 degrees.  Remove the pan from the oven and let the pâté sit for a few minutes.


Cover the top, seal the dish, and bake in a water bath for two hours

Drain the excess liquid and fat from the pan.  Place a weight on top of your pâté and leave until it has cooled.  This is essential to create the desired texture.  We used a washed brick wrapped in aluminum foil as a weight.  If using a loaf pan, place the weight directly on the pâté or on a dish that will fit the loaf pan.

Place the weight on top of the pate

Place the weight on top of the pate

Once the pâté has cooled, remove the weight and then loosen the pâté from the pan and transfer to a plate.  You could serve the pâté at room temperature or refrigerate it for several hours.   I wanted to serve it garnished with a Cognac gelée, so I removed the bacon, trimmed the pâté, and then placed it back into the clean terrine dish, covering it with a Cognac gelée.  I refrigerated this overnight.

Cover with Cognac gelee, if desired

Cover with Cognac gelee, if desired

The flavors and textures in this recipe were as good as any pâté I have ever been served, yet unique in the distinct lamb and clam flavors.  We thought the seasonings in the meat and layer of mushrooms and clams were exceptional, all with a subtle hint of Cognac.  The mushrooms were important to add the texture that I was looking for with the clams.  The aroma of the pâté baking wafted through the house each time I made it and it was intoxicating.  My taste testers were very impressed.  I did make it several times to fine-tune the textures and flavors.

Making lamb crackers

Making lamb crackers – There’s a black sheep in the family made with dark whole wheat bread

For something fun, I made lamb crackers to accompany the pâté.  These are simple to prepare and are a quick way to make a homemade cracker.  Take slices of your preferred bread (a softer bread works best) and run them through a pasta machine several times, taking the size of the opening down after the first pass.  It should take just two times to get it thin enough, but not too thin, to cut.  I used a lamb shaped cutter and toasted them on a greased baking sheet at 375 degrees for a total of ten minutes, turning them once.  You can adjust the baking time according to how dark you want the cracker.  It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Serving pate

Your guests will enjoy the presentation with the lamb crackers and mustard served in clam shell halves

A great pâté needs a few special accompaniments to make it complete.  We served ours with the lamb crackers, cornichons, red grapes, and one of our favorite mustards, Lusty Monk from Asheville, North Carolina.  This coarse-ground mustard has a delightful kick that comes from the fresh mustard seed.  I chose their Original Sin version.  The spiciness and heat was perfect with the rustic texture and flavors of the pâté.  I served the mustard in cleaned and scrubbed clam shell halves, so that along with the lamb crackers, our guests would know what we were serving, my version of Lambs & Clams.


Lambwich with Lusty Monk Mustard

Not to waste one bite, this pâté makes one awesome Lambwich.  One slice of pâté, sandwiched between two slices of bread, topped with lettuce, and dressed with a bit of Lusty Monk Mustard.  It was reminiscent of an old-fashioned liverwurst sandwich, but oh, so much better.

If you like my Rustic Lambs and Clams Pâté with Lamb Crackers, I would appreciate your vote, for the last time, in the Lambs & Clams Cooking Contest.  You need to go to Facebook and first “Like” the Charleston Food and Wine Festival.  You will then be able to access the voting link to the Lambs & Clams Cooking Contest from the burgundy colored tab at the top right-hand side of their Facebook page that says “Lambs & Clams Contest.”  Voting ends Friday, January 25, 2013.  Thank you!


Here are the other participants and their recipes:

Lynda of Taste Food Blog

Peter Barrett of A Cook Blog

Olga Berman of Mango Tomato

David Dadekian of Eat Drink RI

Heather Scholten of Farmgirl Gourmet

Cecilia Stoute of One Vanilla Bean

Vivek Surti of Vivek’s Epicurean Adventures

Rustic Lambs and Clams Pate with Lamb Crackers and mustard served in clam shells

Rustic Lambs and Clams Pate with Lamb Crackers and Lusty Monk Mustard served in clam shells

Rustic Lambs and Clams Pâté with Cognac gelée

Yield: 1 pâté loaf

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

This recipe was created for a 5-cup loaf pan. I used a 4-cup pâté terrine pan, so I modified the recipe a bit. The pâté is excellent served plain, without the Cognac gelée. I added it to dress up the pâté. If you use a pâté terrine pan, make a flour paste with 1/4 cup of flour and 2 to 3 Tablespoons of water and seal the pan with that paste before placing in the oven.


For meat mixture:
1 pound ground lamb
8 ounces ground pork
6 ounces chicken livers, pulsed several times in a food blender or finely chopped
1/2 small onion, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/2 teaspoons chopped, fresh thyme leaves
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons Cognac
1 large bay leaf

For clam mixture:
8 ounces portobello mushrooms, scrubbed clean and chopped medium
8 ounces raw clams, rough chopped
4 Tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt or more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons chopped, fresh thyme
4 Tablespoons Cognac

Softened butter, for greasing pan

10 -12 slices of good bacon

For Cognac gelee:
1 envelope plain gelatin
1/4 cup Cognac
1 3/4 cup beef broth (I used low-sodium)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Grease a 5-cup loaf pan pan with butter. Take the bacon strips and stretch them with the back of a heavy kitchen knife. Use the bacon to line your pan.

3. Combine all of the ingredients for the meat mixture in a large bowl and thoroughly mix with your hands until the spices, Cognac, and meats are blended together. Check for seasonings and set aside.

4. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the 4 Tablespoons butter. When foaming has subsided, quickly add the mushrooms and spread them out in the pan. Sprinkle with the salt, add the chopped thyme, a bit of freshly ground black pepper; let them cook for just a few minutes until slightly softened, stirring occasionally. Add the Cognac and then the chopped clams, stirring to combine. Cook this mixture just another minute or two to warm the clams and soften and reduce the brandy. Check for seasonings and remove from the heat. Set the pan aside.

5. To begin layering, place one-third of the meat mixture into the bottom of prepared pan, pressing tightly into the corners. Make a nice even layer and press it down firmly. Next, add one-half of the clam and mushroom mixture, spreading evenly across the meat mixture. Once again, layer with one-third of the meat mixture, followed with the remaining clam mixture, and end with the final third of the meat mixture. Each time, pressing the meat mixture down and making it compact.

6. Place a bay leaf on top of the meat mixture and cover with three bacon slices to encase the meat. Seal the loaf pan tightly with aluminum foil. Place loaf pan in a roasting pan or large ovenproof dish. Pour in hot water to come halfway up the sides of the pan. Bake for two hours.

7. Take the loaf pan out of the oven and hot water bath and remove aluminum foil. Let sit a few minutes. Drain the excess fat and liquids and then weight down with a 4-pound weight. Cool completely. Remove the pâté from the pan. *You could either serve this at room temperature or refrigerate and serve the pâté as is.

Optional - Remove the bacon, clean the pan, oil it and line it with plastic wrap (for ease of removal), and place the pâté back in the pan. Cover with Cognac gelée.

To make Cognac gelée:
1. Sprinkle one package of gelatin over the Cognac in a small bowl and bloom (soften the gelatin). Let sit for a few minutes.

2. Pour 1 1/2 cups hot beef broth over the gelatin mixture and stir until gelatin is completely melted. Add Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, as desired. Cool until almost room temperature and then pour over the pâté. Refrigerate overnight.

3. Remove pâté carefully from the pan. If it will not loosen easily, place the pan in warm water for just a few seconds and then remove. (* I trimmed the sides of the gelee on my pâté so there was just a layer on the top.) Serve with desired accompaniments and garnishes.


7 Responses to “Rustic Lambs & Clams Pâté with Lamb Crackers for the Charleston Wine & Food Festival’s Recipe Contest”

  1. 1

    Heather | Farmgirl Gourmet — January 16, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

    Interesting way to prepare the 2. I’m a huge pate fan, so this is right up my alley. It’s been fun competing with you for the past 4 months. Hard to believe this is it. Best of luck to you!!


  2. 2

    Gwen — January 16, 2013 @ 2:20 pm

    Hi Heather,

    Yes, I wanted to create something different with this challenge. I thought about meatloaf, sliders with fried clam “bacon,” stew, hand pies, a meat pie, or a layered dish with phyllo, but opted for pate. I figured that was somewhat unusual.

    It is fun that we all seem to create different dishes and have crossed over very little. It makes it interesting. It will be sad to not receive that box of lambs, clams, or oysters next month. 😉 Good luck to you, too.


  3. 3

    Susan in the Boonies — January 16, 2013 @ 5:10 pm

    I voted. I have never made a pâté before, but I have a Silver Palate recipe for a rustic pâté that I have always wanted to try.

  4. 4

    Jamie — January 23, 2013 @ 11:55 am

    OMG Gwen this is an absolutely WOWER!! I love this and wonder if I’d be up to make it. We love pâté but your flavors and use of lamb is stunning! As is the cognac geléé. And I’ll bet that sandwich is fabulous! VOTED!

  5. 5

    Cook In / Dine Out — January 27, 2013 @ 9:20 am

    This looks so elegant and you’ve obviously put a lot of care and work into creating this dish. Good luck in the contest!

  6. 6

    meredith — March 9, 2014 @ 6:31 am

    We love pate but i have never tried to make it as we live in France and have so much to choose from here. That said, I have never seen anything with clams and lamb meat in it so I couldn’t resist trying your recipe as my first attempt at pate! (i.e. something i definitely couldn’t buy).

    Your instructions are great, easy to follow and the result was fantastic – really original flavours and a very unexpected combination of ingredients. My husband from Normandy loved that it represented his origins (turf and surf :0) and the rest of our guests from the UK found it an excellent variation.

    Modifications: not by choice but of necessity. I could not get any ground lamb’s meat so tried to “mince” it myself in food processor – texture was actually a nice addition yielding a pate de campagne result (chunky bits). Could not get Portabello mushrooms so used an alpine mix (frozen no less) of girolle, cepes etc) = tasty and lastly i was out of beef stock so for the gelee i used 1/2 chicken stock and 1/2 knorr mushroom stockcube from italy = also very tasty gelee result.

    so yes this recipe is WONDERFUL, and easy to do even for a novice. Will be making it again without hesitation. Thank you for sharing.

    • Gwen replied: — March 9th, 2014 @ 7:29 pm

      Hi Meredith,

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I’m so glad that you and your guests enjoyed the pate and that the directions were accurate. That is very important to me and I work hard to make sure that recipes do work/

      As you know, this was a unique recipe that was developed for a recipe contest and I had to use both the ground lamb and clams in the dish. While it was a different combination of flavors, we really enjoyed it as did our neighbors and friends. We made it twice; both times to rave reviews, so I’m please you had the same outcome.

      I hope you will continue to be adventurous with your pate making. We thought this one was better than most we are able to purchase, even at good specialty markets.

      Thank you again.


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