Chicken Liver Pâté
I am a lover of liver, though I never touch foie gras for the abhorrently cruel practices required to obtain the stuff. Chicken liver I adore. It’s cheap and when prepared right, very good. Artery-clogging? No doubt. But one could do worse. My husband wouldn’t go near it with a ten-foot pole. Whenever I make this recipe, he locks himself in the room and won’t come out till the coast is clear. Our two cats, like cats do, love it. They rub themselves furiously against my legs while I am cooking this. Of course I share the spoils, to take a little bit of the guilt off this sinful treat.
Traditionally duck fat is used in place of butter, but it’s not always readily available here and butter is as good a substitute as any. I usually put the pate in small ramekins but these were lost in my cluttered kitchen cabinets last night. Instead I found a few disposable souffle cups leftover from a muffin-baking workshop and they worked perfectly well. Less washing up to do, which is imperative after this meal – I have no intention of waddling to the sink. I think I might stick to these paper cups in future.
- 120g butter, divided into thirds
- 1/2 yellow onion, minced
- 300g fresh chicken livers
- 1/2 tsp each salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper
- a dash of vinegar (any kind, except distilled, yucks)
- Water or dry white wine for deglazing, 1/3 cup is plenty
- In a big skillet, sauté the onions in a third of the butter until caramelised. Transfer everything into the bowl of a food processor to cool and await the rest of the good stuff. I was too lazy to drag out the food processor, so I used a tall jug and a stick blender.
- Add the livers to the same pan. Pat really dry first unless you fancy getting hot butter splattered into your eye. Season and cook both sides until just cooked through. It’s okay to have a bit of pink inside, unless you are super “kiasee” like me, then cook until they turn all grey and then some. Remove the livers to join the onions in the bowl.
- Deglaze the pan with water or wine and scrape all the pan juices into the bowl with the vinegar and another third of butter. Whizz everything up into a smooth paste. You can add more water, wine or a dash of cooking cream to adjust the consistency. At this stage, some people sieve to remove the onions and sinews, but I don’t bother. If the onions were finely minced and livers clean, the stick blender usually suffices.
- Warm the last third of butter in a small saucepan until melted. Immediately place the pate in your ramekins or souffle cups, tapping gently to smooth the tops. Pour on a thin layer of butter, making sure none of the pate is exposed. This prevents the iron-rich pate from oxidising and turning a dark and unappetising colour.
- Chill a couple of hours before serving. This can be frozen for months, but it usually doesn’t last that long in our house. I served it with thin, toasted slices of a lovely sourdough rye we baked in school this week. Add pickles if you want, though not absolutely necessary.