December 29th, 2011
This is my chicken liver paté recipe – the one I made for Christmas Day. I used to buy a delicious paté like this about 30 years ago and when the delicatessen I got it from closed down, I tried and amalgamated a few recipes until I was able to produce a similar flavour and texture. I’ve made this at least four or five times for Christmas over the last 20 years – it’s always gone down very well. This one weighed about a kilo and was completely gone before the end of the day. Chicken livers should be easy to find – mine came from the butcher, but most supermarkets sell them.
Before you start making the paté, it needs to be covered in clarified butter, at the end, in order to protect and preserve it, so you need to clarify the butter in advance. You can buy this or make your own. It’s a simple process, heat about 125g butter (about half a packet) gently, until it foams. Cook for a minute or so, do not heat excessively, you don’t want it to burn or brown. Skim off the foam, pour into a bowl and refrigerate. Any impurities will fall to the bottom and can be easily scraped off before using.
Chicken Liver Paté recipe (produces about 1 kilo):
1/2 kilo of chicken livers
2 medium onions (chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
ground herbs – a few sprigs of rosemary, sage, thyme, salt and black peppercorns, ground with a mortar and pestle
2 bay leaves
3 dessertspoons of Spanish sherry brandy
This uses a packet of butter, most of which is blended with the other ingredients towards the end, so take it out of the fridge half an hour in advance. Cut off a quarter of the butter and heat it in a frying pan until it melts and foams a little.
When the butter has melted put the onions into the pan and cook them slowly. Keep stirring – cook the onions until they soften and change colour (for 20 – 30 minutes). They should caramelise a little without burning (do not cover them, they are not supposed to sweat).
You can keep an eye on the onions while you chop the chicken livers into bite sized pieces – remove any little tubes and membranes. Add the livers when the onions have softened and stir them in.
Brown the livers a little before stirring in the chopped garlic, followed by
the ground herbs and bay leaves. I used to buy mixed herbs, but bunches of fresh ones are far superior – I hang them up and let them dry out, the flavour is much better than the little pots from supermarkets. However, if you are stuck, some mixed herbs would do. Make sure the chicken livers are cooked all the way through – they are small so it shouldn’t take long. Take some out and cut them open if you want to check (they should be the same grey liver colour throughout, with no blood). When done, try some to check the seasoning – you can add a little salt and black pepper (to taste) if necessary.
Once cooked, remove the bay leaves (rinse them under the tap and save them for decoration). Allow the liver and onion to cool for 30 minutes or so. Once cool, put it all into a food processor,
chop the remainder of the butter into pieces and put it on top.
Using the fastest food processor setting, blend the ingredients to make a fine paste. Pour in the brandy and give another quick wizz. Do taste again, to make sure the seasoning is as you like it.
Put the paté into a suitably sized bowl or bowls – smooth it out (as per the picture at the top), melt the clarified butter gently and pour it on the paté to seal and preserve it. You can use the saved bay leaves for decoration if you like.
Allow the butter to cool before refrigerating.
Serve with toast or some good fresh bread.