chicken liver paté

June 12, 2015

I don’t drink beer, and I’m not really one for going up to the pub just for a drink. However, I have been known to go up at my local (The Local Taphouse) just to get their Chicken Liver Parfait which is served with onion marmalade, toasted almonds and brioche. Fortunately for me, it’s been on the menu for the last 2 years since I moved into the area; and more often than not, when I order it, whichever bar person takes my order high-fives me or gives me the appreciating nod because they all love it too.

If there are two things that draw me to order a particular menu item time and time again when I’m out, it’s either because I have resigned myself to the fact that there are some foods that should just be left to the experts (Peking Duck springs to mind, and most of the items at yum cha fit into this category) or I’m simply a little bit scared to try to cook it myself.

Paté used to squarely fit into the latter category. If it’s on the menu, I will usually order it. And if I’m out and there’s a cheese board in reach, I may even reach for the paté before the cheese. While I have always loved eating it, until recently, I was hesitant to cook it. Not because of the “thought ” of cooking offal, but mostly because I was scared the smell would put me off and paté would be ruined forever. Anyway, I got over this phobia, and decided to have a crack at it. At around $2.50 for 500g, it’s such a cheap, easy, forgiving, nourishing and super tasty dish which, for me, can be a meal in itself with a few crackers, chutney and toasted nuts. Making the jelly top feels a bit fancy, and ensures a 2nd portion keeps in the fridge for over a week. Or you can also use melted ghee, olive oil, butter or bacon fat to seal the tops too if you have these on hand can’t be bothered pfaffing ’round with gelatin. (These will all set in the fridge like the jelly.)

This recipe was inspired by one of my heros, Alexx Stuart, from whom I continue to learn so much about low-tox living.

Makes 2 medium-sized dip bowls

ingredients

  • 1/2 cup grass-fed butter (about 125g) (I use Ashgrove’s Farmhouse Butter which is pretty readily available), or ghee if you’re dairy free (I do nom nom paleo’s version which you can find here)
  • 1 large onion (white, brown or red all work fine)
  • 1 rosemary sprig, (or thyme, or both)
  • Approximately 500g organic chicken livers (preferably pasture-raised organic which might set up back $4 instead of $2.50)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 4 Tbsp tomato passata / tinned tomatoes / fresh tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp dried cranberries / sour cherries
  • 50mL stock (any stock will work)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Jelly tops (optional)

  • 1 tsp gelatin powder (or 1 leaf/sheet)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp raw honey (or cassis or brandy for sweetness)
  • a couple of bay leaves and whole peppercorns

method

Jelly tops – the paté is quick to make, so if you’re making jelly, start this off first so it can start to cool.

  1. Pour 1/2 cup bowling water into a small (heat-proof) jug.
  2. Add gelatin powder/leaf/sheet and sweetness of your choice, mix to combine/dissolve and leave aside to start cooling while you make the paté.

Paté

  1. Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a medium-large fry pan over medium-high heat and fry your onions until soft (just starting to colour).
  2. Add rosemary/thyme, livers and garlic and fry until livers are well-browned on the outsides (but not cooked all through* – about 5 minutes).
  3. Add passata/tomatoes, stock, salt, the rest of the butter and the dried cranberries / sour cherries and fry for a further 5 minutes.
  4. Pour everything into a food processor, (or you can pour into a medium saucepan/jug and use a stick blender) and blend until smooth.
  5. If you want a super smooth ‘parfait’ you can pass the mixture through a sieve so you get a silky smooth paste-like consistency (I don’t bother with this).
  6. Pour / spoon the hot paté mixture into bowls and smooth over with a spatula to flatten out the tops.
  7. If adding jelly tops, pour over a thin layer of the slightly cooled (will not yet be set) gelatin mixture, drop a bay leaf and a few peppercorns into the jelly for added fanciness, then carefully place flat in your fridge to allow the tops to set.
  8. Enjoy with crackers, toasted baguette/brioche, etc.

*browning the livers without cooking through will ensure your paté has a great depth of flavour and it will be the classic ‘pink’ colour. If you’d prefer to ensure your lives are well-cooked, no problems! Your paté will still be delicious – just a lovely brown instead of dusty pink.

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