This is the first time I’ve ever made pâté. I’ve ordered it in restaurants countless times, because I LOVE IT. Recently, Sue was in Portland and she, Dom and I went to dinner at a wonderful Portland restaurant, Toro Bravo, a tapas place. They have a chicken liver mousse on their menu that we had and enjoyed so much (it was our favorite thing at that meal, which was the best meal I’ve ever had in Portland). We talked seriously about ordering another order of the mousse to go, which we didn’t do, and then regretted as soon as we got home. It was silky and fantastic, we could taste the sherry and lightly the pepper and onion. It was amazing.
I was home in Michigan a week or so ago for my grandfather’s funeral (miss you Papa Tim) and made it for my parents, because they are the ones who taught me to love pâté. (The first time I had pâté and LOVED it rather than freaked out because I was eating liver was on a cruise with my family and we had this green peppercorn studded pâté that was unbelievable.) Turns out, it was pretty easy, and my parents agreed that it turned out fantastically. If you like pâté, this is worth making for yourself, though keep in mind that it makes a whole lot, but you will eat it.
Chicken Liver Pâté
1lb chicken livers, trimmed (They will probably come trimmed, but go through them anyway, and remove any sinews and strips of fat. Also, here’s some amazing news, chicken livers are like $2 per pound. If you don’t see 1 pound containers of livers in the chicken area, ask the butcher, and make sure they’re trimmed.)
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 tbsp bacon fat
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp allspice
1/3 cup sweet cooking sherry
3 tbsp heavy cream
salt and pepper
When you’ve trimmed the livers, place them on top of a paper towel lined plate, and push a paper towel onto the tops of them as well, you want them to release as much liquid as possible so they brown nicely in the pan.
In a medium saucepan, melt half a stick of butter, and put in the onion, garlic and all spices. Caramelize on medium-high heat until the onions start to brown, probably 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, put in half the sherry. Cook that a further 5-7 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Remove the onions to a bowl to cool.
In the same pan, melt the one tablespoon of butter and the bacon fat, and put half the livers in the pan, carefully. Cook them on the first side for 3-4 minutes, until they’re browned. Flip them, splash in half the remaining sherry and cook until the other side is browned, salting and peppering liberally. When they’re browned on both sides, and relatively firm, remove them to a plate, and repeat with the remaining livers (put them in, wait until the first side browns, flip them, put in the rest of the sherry, salting and peppering liberally, removing to a plate when they’re browned on both sides and are firm).
When the onion mixture and the livers have cooled sufficiently, 45 minutes or so, put all of it into a food processor and pulse until smooth. When it’s all been smooshed into sludge (albeit tasty sludge), drizzle in the heavy cream and pulse some more. When it’s smooth, remove it to a bowl or series of bowls, and smooth the top.
Melt the remaining butter in the microwave for 1 minute, so that it melts and gets foamy. Spoon off the foam and milk solids and pour the clear, light yellow clarified butter over the top of the pâté. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour or so, but up to 24-48 hours. Serve with baguette slices, crackers, pickles (cornichons are traditional but I used bread and butter pickles because I love them) and sweet mustard.
Seriously this pâté is so good. My parents freaked out over it, my dad demanded that I make another batch before I went home to Portland. It was good that didn’t turn out to be necessary, because it would have been kind of gross, as it made probably 16 ounces or so of pâté, and it isn’t exactly diet food. It was a lot easier than I thought, too, and worth it for this caliber of snack. Really, really, really good.