Easy, Silky Chicken Liver Pate
December 29, 2014 • Appetizers,
When I was in Washington for my book tour back in September, I tried to stop in for lunch or dinner at as many restaurants that had contributed to the book as I could. That was hardly rough duty, as the chefs always took extra care of me. When I arrived at Restaurant Marché on Bainbridge Island, it was just as the place was opening up and I was nearly the only person in there. But the chef, Greg Atkinson, was there, prepping things for the evening meal, including small little dishes of this paté that they serve on the table with crusty bread.After he filled the last ramekin, he poured the still warm and runny leftovers onto a small plate for me and confided that this was his favorite way to eat it, slathered on some French bread. I ate every drop of that (along with his fabulous mussels and frites) and have been waiting until I had enough livers in the freezer to make this at home.I almost always buy whole chickens – they are simple to butcher, they are cheaper whole than in parts, you have the carcass left for making stock, and you (usually) get the livers along with it. I gently wrap them in plastic wrap and store them in a bag in the freezer until I have a pound, and then I make paté.Ironically, when I asked the chef for the recipe last week, he told me it originally came from Susan Hermann Loomis, who runs On Rue Tatin, a cooking school in Normandy that I attended back in 2007, where I happened to have met my friend Silvestro Silvestori, who runs The Awaiting Table cookery school in Puglia where I take guests each year. Isn’t it a small world after all?The technique is simple – marinate in port wine with some thyme overnight, simmer for 5 minutes to just barely cook, process in a food processor with butter, strain, pour into ramekins, top with some clarified butter (photo above – this helps keep the pate from oxidizing), and refrigerate until set.I like to use a butter knife to gently remove the butter layer before serving the pate, and you can garnish with some sprigs of thyme if you have them. I took one of these to a friend whose family had been sick and needed a little pick me up, and I took one to our friends who invited us for Christmas Eve dinner, I served one as we opened gifts with our kids and friends on Christmas, and I still have one ramekin left which I will freeze for another party (unless I can’t stop nibbling on it). This is a pretty decadent way to use up those chicken livers, something that until now you might have unknowingly just thrown away!
- 1 pound chicken livers, cleaned
- 1 cup port wine
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sticks butter, cold and cubed
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 stick butter, clarified
- Combine livers with port and thyme and marinate overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, bring to a boil and simmer until just barely cooked through, about 5 minutes, turning livers to make sure they cook on all sides.
- Use fork to remove just the livers (not the thyme) and place them in the bowl of a food processor. Add about ¼ cup of the cooking liquid and turn the food processor on. Slowly add butter a piece at a time with the machine running until completely emulsified and smooth, then add salt and process for 10 more seconds.
- Press the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a large Pyrex measuring cup with a spout; discard any solids left behind. Pour the mixture into 4 6-ounce ramekins and top each with a small layer of clarified butter. Refrigerate until firm and serve with crusty bread and some onion or fig jam