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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Fabulous Pate

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).


  • Hmmmm, my favourite! I inherited a simple recipe like this from my mom - hers used cream cheese instead of the cream though - and it was one of the first "party trick" dishes I ever made to impress friends. Although chicken livers are available in every supermarket in South Africa, here in London I seldom see them. Lambs liver, calves liver, pigs liver - oh yes. But not chicken. What, do they breed them without livers over here or something??

    Great post - and yummy picture!

    By Blogger Jeanne, at 1/19/2005 09:31:00 pm  

  • Well, sometimes you do have to hunt them out, but they're usually there, hidden in a corner, with the packets of offcuts for your pet dog. Interestingly, I find it easier to get them at supermarkets than at butchers.
    I don't believe I've ever seen pigs livers for sale around here though!

    By Blogger Niki, at 1/19/2005 09:38:00 pm  

  • I LOVE chicken liver pate--or anything with chicken livers, for that matter--and I'm so happy to see that I'm not alone! Bring back the pate indeed!

    By Blogger Molly, at 1/28/2005 06:05:00 pm  

  • Niki, you can't hear me but I'm cheering over here. Just yesterday, I was staring longingly at this teeny little tub of grossly overpriced liver pate thinking, "Oh god, I want that so much." Sorry, I *love* pate but it's just so expensive where I live. I can't wait to make my own. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe!

    By Blogger brownbreadicecream, at 4/25/2005 11:51:00 pm  

  • cant wait to try the pate recipe sounds yummy i always by packet pate but now i will try my own thanks guys 4 the recipe

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/30/2006 10:12:00 pm  

  • cool nice easy recipe sound delightful i will give it a whirl

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/30/2006 10:14:00 pm  

  • Interesting, I remember making chicken liver pate in the late '60s with cream cheese.. so darned easy, and delicious. I haven't made it for years. My chicken livers don't get past being fried and chucked on salad with bacon lardons these days, which made me wonder what the pate would be like with finely chopped crispy bacon in it to add a bit of texture?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/24/2006 02:52:00 am  

  • Yes Hmmmm. Chicken livers are alway available fresh in sainsburys near the fresh chicken dept. or indeed frozen in small tubs in the freezer dept. I suppose because they are not used very often in cooking it is easy to miss them sitting on the supermaket shelves, but believe me they are there. I have alson used this recipe adding pistachio nuts and port before. delish!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/22/2006 10:35:00 pm  

  • Hi nikki

    do you know where in Melbourne I can find chicken livers. Does Coles stock them.
    Love your site I have bookmarked this.
    I am just starting to go thru my deceased mother inlaws cook books and picking out recipes to ward off the boredome of feeding the family.
    I think I'll be checking out your site a bit too.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/15/2007 09:14:00 pm  

  • Nikki

    chicken livers are readily attainable at the chicken shop in the plaza off bridge road.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/07/2007 05:12:00 pm  

  • I've made chicken liver pate for years...and it is never the same twice because I add different ingredients each time.

    -- Try adding something fruity. Cranberry jelly (either the slightly sweeter sort from a jar or some home made tart cranberry sauce). Nothing too sugary, so no jam/conserve! If you are not sure, then just think about the fruity things you have with meat - Apple sauce and Pork, Cranberry and Turkey. That should give you an idea of how sweet the fruit should be.

    Instead of the usual alcohol try a fruit liqueur (raspberry liqueur works!) or tequila or peach schnapps

    For texture a few bits of very crispy bacon or nuts.

    Just remember that if you want texture, you have to manually chop, then add after the blender!

    Experiment and have fun!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/30/2007 12:15:00 am  

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