Chicken liver pâté is one of those inexpensive and easy dishes, yet it is luxurious and appropriate for special occasions. You could serve this chicken pâté as an appetizer at a dinner party, or simply as a supper or a sandwich spread. It takes less than a half-hour to prepare, and it will firm up in the refrigerator in a few hours. Simply pack the mixture into a bowl or glass jar, cover and refrigerate. This pâté can be eaten the day it’s made, but I find it even more flavorful when made 1 or 2 days ahead.
Chicken liver pâté is perfect for spreading over crackers or toasted thin baguette slices. And unlike so many of the pâtés we make that require a weighted terrine in a water bath (for example foie gras), this one is easy to make and takes hardly any time. It is luxurious enough to make the table for your festive feasts (and can be made days in advance) but is easy to throw together for lunch all year round. What you need to do first is make sure you trim the chicken livers of their connective tissue, then sauté them in butter with spices, add a little alcohol, and then purée with cream and/or butter. It is best serve chilled, and because of its richness, a little goes a long way. The initial browning of the liver process seems to be as important here as it would be in a stew or roast — it adds a depth of flavour. For alcohol, usually madeira, port, cognac or brandy is used. I really like the subtle sweetness of madeira with the chicken. Instead of yellow onions, I recommend using shallots, for their slightly vinous sweetness. Thyme is also a classic partner with chicken. When the liver is done, make sure you push the mixture through a sieve before chilling because there are always little bits left after pureeing, and pâtés should either be coarse or smooth, not gritty.
- 350g chicken livers, cleaned
- 100g butter, diced
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1 tsp thyme leaves, finely chopped
- 75ml madeira
- 75ml double cream
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 allspice berry, ground
- Cut the livers into roughly 1.5cm pieces, and heat a knob of butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the shallot and thyme and soften, then turn up the heat to medium-high, add the livers and saute for a couple of minutes until browned. Place into a food processor.
- Add the madeira to the pan and boil until reduced to a couple of tablespoons. Tip into the food processor, add the cream, salt and spices and whizz until smooth. Add the remaining butter, and whizz again. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
- Pass through a sieve into a serving dish and chill.