The other night after work, I had to decide between 2 snacks: my usual squares of dark chocolate, or this chicken liver pâté. It’s a testament to how ridiculously tasty and satisfying this pâté is that I chose the latter…
Chicken liver pâté is one of those classic, rustic dishes that should be a kitchen staple rather than a dinner party treat. And for it to be made frequently, on a whim, it mustn’t be fussy. The chicken livers are the star of this dish, and the other ingredients are only there to help the chicken livers shine. Sealing the pâté with butter is optional and more of a decorative touch, since I doubt it’ll be left uneaten for long enough for the seal to make a difference – without the seal, or once the seal is broken, the pâté should be okay for 4-5 days, especially if the livers are cooked through. Besides, if you make a big batch, it freezes great, so store some in the freezer for a rainy day (or, you know, next week).
Enjoy this pâté as a snack, light lunch, an appetizer, or just because you feel like it. Once you’ve tried it and seen how simple it is to make, I’m sure you won’t be needing an excuse to make it again and again.
Can be served with a light side salad, some cornichons, a charcuterie or cheese plate, or simply on its own. Spread it on whatever you’d like, or eat it by the spoonful as I do.
- 1 lb. chicken livers, thickly sliced*
- 2 large shallots, minced (can substitute 1/2 large onion)
- 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
- 3 Tbsp. brandy or Cognac (Cognac is a type of brandy)
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, chopped into large cubes
- 3 Tbsp. whipping cream
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- butter for greasing the pan
- a few sprigs of thyme for decoration (optional)
- approx. 4 Tbsp. butter for seal (optional)
1. Prepare the chicken livers by trimming off any discoloured parts as well as any fat, veins, and connective tissues. Rinse the livers and pat them dry with a paper towel. Slice the livers thinly to ensure even cooking.
2. Heat medium pan over medium-high heat. Add enough butter to grease the pan.
3. Add the shallots/onions and thyme. Cook until shallots/onions have softened, approximately 5 minutes. Add alcohol and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated – approximately 3-5 more minutes.
4. Transfer contents of pan to food processor.
5. Add a generous amount of butter to grease the pan so that the livers don’t dry out. Sauté until livers in the butter until they are cooked through and no longer pink on the inside, without overcooking them.
6. Transfer the contents of the pan to the food processor.
7. Process the livers, adding a few cubes of butter at a time, until all of the butter has been incorporated and the pate is very smooth (scrape the sides down as necessary).
8. Add the cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Process until well combined.
9. Transfer the chicken liver pâté into ramekins or other serving dishes, level the surface, and top with a sprig of thyme for decoration (optional).
10. If sealing the pâté with butter, chill the pâté for approximately half an hour first. Otherwise, chill the pate for 2 hours straight.
11. Optional clarified butter seal: In a small pot over low heat, bring the approximately 4 Tbsp. butter to a simmer. Once the butter stops foaming, scoop the foam off the top with a spoon. Strain the butter through a fine sieve into another container. The butter may not be perfectly clarified at this point, but it’s sufficient for this application. Gently pour the clarified butter over the pâtés.
12. Cover the pâté with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours total for the pâté to set.
13. If possible, remove the pâté from the fridge 1 – 2 hours before serving to soften it so that it’s more easily spreadable.
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*Most recipes will instruct you to leave the insides of the livers pink in order to improve the flavor of the pâté and to impart a pretty pink color. After reading about the number of cases of food poisoning from uncooked chicken livers, and considering that most of us would never eat pink chicken otherwise, I decided to cook the livers all the way through. I slice the livers up so that they cook more evenly.