This was one of my contributions to our weekend away, and it was truly wonderful. It's a very simple recipe for chicken liver pate I found in a French cookery book when I was working in a library. Personally, I think it's more of a chicken liver mousse, but who's to argue with a French cookery book?
I decided a few years back (probably with a mouthful of good pate from a shop) that I wanted to try making my own. I knew it was popular to do in the 80s - my mother remembers doing it quite a bit for dinner parties - but it really seems to have fallen out of fashion at the moment. What a shame. Yes, it's far from healthy, but it's packed full of iron, which makes it great for women. Bring Back The Pate, I say!
A few chats with people who had experience in this marginal interest group gave me a few tips and warned me not to expect a professional texture; mine probably wouldn't be completely smooth. Doesn't matter, I thought. I found them to be wrong anyway! My first effort was about 3 years ago, and it was an instant, wildly-heralded, roaring success. My friend managed to eat her way through an entire pot and then asked for more!
I believe I've become known for my pate, and I have no complaints with that!
This recipe makes a soft, smooth pate with a wonderful flavour - the sort that needs to be served in a pot, rather than the firm, sliceable type. It makes enough to fill a large terrine or about 5-6 small ramekins, and I find it freezes amazingly well, which is great if you want to make up a batch of pate in small pots, to bring out at a later stage. Really, the flavour is incredible and, apart from the every-so-slight ickiness of preparing and trimming the livers (which only takes a few minutes...it helps to hum loudly, I find!) it is incredibly quick and easy to make. I really encourage you to try it.
(Chicken livers are easily available at supermarkets here in Melbourne, but I can't speak for anywhere else.)
Chicken Liver Pate
(from some French cookery book, the name of which I never wrote down...)
Makes 1 medium sized terrine, or 5-6 small ramekins.
500 grams chicken livers
80 ml brandy
90 g butter
1 onion, very finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon chopped tfresh hyme (alternatively, I use a small handful of chopped fresh sage, which we have in the garden. I actually prefer its flavour in this pate)
60 ml cream
Trim the chicken livers, cutting away any discoloured bits or veins (yes, I know....ewwwww...but the worst part is over now!). Rinse them, pat dry with paper towels and cut in half. Place in a small bowl with the brandy, cover and leave for a couple of hours. Drain the livers, reserving the brandy.
Melt half of the butter in a frying pan, add the onion and garlic and cook over low heat until the onion is very soft and transparent. Season well with salt and lots of freshly ground pepper. Add the livers and herbs and stir over moderate heat until the livers change colour. Add the reserved brandy and simmer for 2 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes.
Place the livers and liquid in a food processor and whiz til smooth. Add the remaining butter, chopped, and process again until smooth. (Alternatively, roughly mash the livers with a fork, then push them through a sieve and mix with the melted butter.) Pour in the cream and process until just incorporated.
Check for seasoning and pour into small pots or a large earthenware terrine, smoothing the surface. Cover and rerigerate until firm.
This recipe freezes well. Bring individual ramekins of pate to room temperature slowly (don't use a microwave).