31 December 2011

Chicken Liver Pate

We love chicken liver in all it's forms but especially when just simply fried and served with a little lambs lettuce and honey/mustard vinaigrette dressing. Delicious! We also love to make pate which is more or less just the buttery spreadable version of the simple fried dish. It has one major advantage though you can play endlessly with flavours, textures and nuances by varying the supporting ingredients according to your mood. True to say that no two pates we ever make are exactly the same.

When thinking about making a pate we generally look and see what's in the fridge. For example some diced chorizo is a wonderful addition which you can enhance by adding a few pinches of paprika, smoked paprika and/or cayenne pepper. More conventionally some diced smoked streaky bacon can be added for extra flavour. If using fry them off with the onion at the start. To add texture we might put in a few dried mushrooms which have been soaked in boiling water for a few minutes beforehand or even some diced dried fruits like apricot or fig. To add heat and a little kick garlic and chilli are good, or a little tobasco, sweet chilli sauce or Worcestershire works wonders but you do need to be careful not to add too much liquid as this may cause problems down the line when trying to set the pate. A splash of Port or sherry can be used to lend sweetness.

Once made the pate will last for several days in the fridge and can be served as a canape on crostini with a chutney, as a starter with Irish soda bread, as stuffing for example in beef wellington or chicken breasts or even as a flavour enhancer to mince meat when making something like Bolognaise sauce or cottage pie. The recipe below is for a basic pate which you can enhance with some of the suggestions above.


250g pot of chicken livers
2 red onions
2 garlic cloves
Handfull of Bacon lardons
50g butter
Tbl spoon olive oil
Salt and Black pepper


Sweat down the onions and garlic in a skillet with a little butter and olive oil. if adding any further spice powder such as paprika do it now so it has a chance to cook out with the onions. Add the bacon. In the mean time make sure all the livers are free of sinew and are roughly the same size. Once the onions are translucent and the bacon cooked push to one side of the pan and throw in the livers and keep turning them for about a minute then remove from the heat, don't worry they will continue to cook in the residue heat. Allow to cool slightly and put in a food blender. Again the final pate texture can range from course or rustic to creamy smooth depending on your preference just by varying the length of whizzing. Put in an airtight container and re-fridgerate. Pate in preserving jars makes a nice present. Clarified butter can be used as a seal which stops the pate oxidising. Decorate with cornichons halved lengthwise.

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