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.


Anonymous said...

This sounds so good. I am absolutely in the yes group, but unfortunately, I live with a no, so I'll have to hold off until I'm entertaining a pro-chicken liver crowd.

Daniel said...

Yum. All you need to go with this is some pumpernickel and schmear of schmaltz.

Unknown said...

It's certainly not the recipe from a Jewish kitchen.

Lisa said...

Brooke: Pro-chicken liver people need to stick together.

Daniel: Sorry, schmaltz is just something I cannot get behind.

Linda: Nope, Jacques Pepin is certainly not a Jew.

Megan and Butch! said...

Schmaltz no, pumpernickel yes. But actually, I'm in the eat it with a spooon camp.
Why haven't I thought of doing this before? What's wrong with me? Chicken livers are so cheap! I could have been eating pate EVERY NIGHT!
On the other hand, not being aware of this recipe means that my eventual contraction of the gout is postponed for a few more years.

Lisa said...

Mmm...delicious, delicious gout.

Unknown said...

I'm afraid I can't get behind "schmear." Nor past it.

Daniel said...

So for those keeping score...

Schmear of schmaltz: too Jewish.

Jacques' chicken liver pate: not Jewish enough.


Ulla said...

that looks so good:)
my mother used to make rabbit liver pate.

Kristina Strain said...

Oh, yes, my mom used to make a heavenly chicken liver pate. It's one of those things: just take a deep breath, close your eyes, and don't think too much about what's really in it.

Lisa said...

Kristina: Ha! So true.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mr. Lynch said...

Just began making pates but I am now looking for an alternative to sealing pate with butter. Yes, I know it can just be covered with foil or wrap but I remember sweet tasting dark red sealers when in Europe but can't for the life of me find anything online to suggest what I could use. Any ideas? Thanks.

Lisa said...

Mr. Lynch: Hmm...I have to say, I have no idea! I did not seal mine because it was to be eaten that night. I wish I could be of more help.

Goldie said...

Damn that was EASY!!

Renay said...

I think I have a better recipe wherein the butter is not floating all over the top, which can make it appear unappetizing. This is really delicious.

1 pound chicken livers
1/2 stick of butter
2 large onions, sliced thinly
teaspoon of thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of Cognac

Sautee the onions with the butter, till soft. Add the livers and spices and cook for about 8 minutes. Add the Cognac. Simmer for another minute. Put all in food processor, or blender until creamy. Then place in serving dish and chill. Serve with chopped hard boiled egg, capers, cornichons and chopped shallots.

I made this for the first time last year at a holiday party and everyone liked it so much that it has now become my "standard dish" to bring.

Anonymous said...

that's very nice and easy.thank you so much.:)

Unknown said...

half a pound my foot ,go with at least a pound so there is
enough for everybody and yes pumpernickel is a must

Carolyn said...

How much would a stick of butter be in grams!?

Lisa said...

115 grams

Anonymous said...

a stick of butter in New Zealand is 500 grams. Pate - definitely a "eat with a spoon" kind of a gal. So yummy - my parents raised me on it, along with smoked oysters, caviar and cheeses, - my father traded with the Russians when our city had been a major port years ago. Thanks for the fab recipes.

i speak Foodie said...

I roasted a chicken last night and needed to do something with the livers that came with it. It was the title of your post that made me want to try this - and you were right! It went like hotcakes with my guests and was super simple to make. I didn't have a lot of time to chill it prior to serving, so I stuck it in the freezer for the initial 10 minutes to kick start the chilling. Thanks for a great post!

Lisa said...

So glad you liked it! Thanks for commenting.

Sara said...

I love your title--that's exactly how I presented it. I also live with a "no" (though he eats foie gras) so I have to make it strategically!

Anonymous said...

3 words for everyone: Duck Liver Pate!!!

That's the way we do it in the South!!!


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