Monday, March 9, 2009
chicken liver pâté (you'll like it, I promise)
Chicken livers are one of those foods that either incite "Ew, gross!" or "Oh, yes." I am in the "oh, yes" camp. Especially when they are pureed into a silky, buttery spread.
I had my doubts when I made this for Dan's birthday, as per his request. I wasn't sure if everyone else at dinner would be as game as we are. And if you're not into liver, it's kind of a bad way to start off the night. So we bought some cheese, as a back-up.
After everyone sat down, I put the pâté out on the coffee table with some crackers, a sliced apple, and the cheese. And then I went back in the kitchen to make some drinks. When I came back, there was a major dent in the pâté and almost all of the crackers were gone. And the cheese was relatively untouched. I put out more crackers, and again, they disappeared. Eventually we ran out of crackers so I took the pâté away before people could start digging into it with their fingers. Luckily, this recipe makes a lot, so Dan and I worked on some of the leftovers with celery sticks the next day.
Chicken liver pâté
From the master, Jacques Pépin, via Food & Wine. As fancy as pâté may sound, as the recipe promises, it is simple and very inexpensive to make. One change: I reduced the butter from 1 1/2 sticks to 1/2 a stick. Did it make a difference? No one seemed to notice.
(Serves 8 to 10 people)
1/2 lb. chicken liver, well-trimmed
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
1 small garlic clove, smashed and peeled
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. thyme leaves, plus an extra pinch
1/2 cup water
1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. Cognac or Scotch (I used Calvados, apple brandy)
Freshly ground pepper
In a medium saucepan, combine the liver, onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and 1/2 tsp. of salt. Add the water and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the livers are barely pink inside, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the liver, onions, and garlic to a food processor and process until coarsely pureed. With the machine on, add the butter, a few tablespoons at a time, until incorporated. Add the liquor, and season with salt and pepper. Process until smooth. Scrape the pâté into a large ramekin or bowl and sprinkle the extra thyme on top. Press a piece of plastic wrap on top and refrigerate until firm. Serve chilled with toasted baguette slices, crackers, or apple slices.