After a long break (I’m SO busy at the moment dahlings, you have NO idea), I’ve finally found the time to grace your screens with another foodie ramble, this time to do with chicken liver paté. Hope you all enjoy it, and don’t eat it all at once.
Without a doubt, chicken liver paté is one of my absolute favourite things. It’s my go-to starter on a disappointing restaurant menu – in fact, I have to get pretty strict with myself sometimes about giving the other dishes a shot. Making a really smooth chicken liver paté is a bit of a fine art to be honest, but if you’re just looking for something really, really tasty, look no further than the recipe below.
In terms of my usual pre-recipe burble, there are just a couple of things to say really. The difference between a paté and a parfait (since I’m sure you were wondering) is that for a paté you cook the chicken livers in butter first, then purée them, whereas for a parfait you pureé the livers first to make a sort of raw liver mush (mmmm, delicious), then pass it through a sieve before cooking it in a bain marie until it sets. This allows you to get a smoother texture because the sieve takes out any impurities. On the other hand, sautéing the livers in butter first gives a richer flavour, like when you seal beef for a stew. You can put paté through a sieve once it’s cooked and puréed and it does give a smoother texture, but when I’m just making it at home I’m afraid I see it as a bit too much of an effort.
The recipe below is based on one which my mum uses, ergo it’s tried and tested to the max. The jelly on top, though, is all mine, and I’m quite proud of it to be honest. It’s a flavoursome alternative to covering the paté with a layer of melted butter: it’s important to cover it with something, because the liver mixture will oxidise when exposed to the air. I so often hate those jellies they put on supermarket patés that I thought it was about time I worked out one I actually like. I have to say, though, that I’m not sure how much of the liking is due to the fact that it’s made of about 90% port...
Anyway, as a recipe for paté this is about as simple as it gets (don’t be fooled by the length of my method – as usual, I was a tiny bit carried away by letting you know exactly how I like to do it!). If you want to change it up a bit, you can try altering the herbs you use or leaving out the garlic. A great option is to vary the alcohol you put in the paté – Madeira is lovely with chicken liver, or you could use cognac or port.
In retrospect, there were more than a couple of things to say in the pre-recipe burble. Apologies. On with the recipe without further ado.
500g chicken livers
1 onion, or two large shallots, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Chopped thyme, parsley and chives – about 2 tbsp in total
1 heaped tbsp redcurrant jelly
2 leaves gelatine
Some cold water
Trim any excess fat or sinew from the chicken livers. Sauté them in a little hot oil until the outsides are browned and caramelised and they’re still a bit pink inside. Season lightly and remove from the pan.
Add the butter to the same pan and when it’s foaming sweat the onions and garlic over a low heat until the onions are soft and translucent. Turn up the heat and deglaze the pan with the brandy, then reduce until almost all the brandy is gone. Return the livers briefly to the pan and leave to cool for a few moments.
In a food processor or blender, blitz the liver mixture until it’s as smooth as possible. Season to taste and transfer to the dish of your choice (NB: you can put it through a sieve at this stage if you like – it’s a bit of extra effort, but it is worth it if you don’t like it too coarse) Smooth it down with a spoon, making sure there are no air bubbles and the surface is very even. Pop it in the fridge while you make the jelly.
Put the port in a small pan and bring to a boil. Simmer until it is reduced by half – you should only have 100ml left! Put the gelatine in some cold water and let it soak for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, whisk some redcurrant jelly into the hot port. It should all dissolve. When the couple minutes are up, squeeze the excess water out of the gelatine (it should have softened up a lot) and whisk it into the port mixture. Do not return to the heat.
Leave the port mix to cool – it shouldn’t feel at all warm to the touch. You can speed this up by putting it in the fridge, but keep a close eye on it because the jelly might start to set. If this does happen you can re-melt it with no ill effects, but don’t let it boil or you will ruin the set from the gelatine.
The mixture will thicken a bit and you may need to stir it occasionally. When it’s cooled, pour it over the paté, making sure you get a good layer over all of it. You may not need all the jelly mixture – it depends on the size of your paté dish.
Top the lot with a couple of sprigs of thyme or a bay leaf, and put it in the fridge to cool for a few hours or until the jelly has set. Use within a few days and keep it in the fridge. It’s extra great with brioche and some decent butter, or really thin (dare we say melba?) toast.