Cheap (cheep cheep) Chicken Liver Pâté: !

Cheap (cheep cheep) Chicken Liver Pâté:     !

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins.

Course:        Starter/Snack

Serves:       As many as……..

Rating:         3:  Moderate, and worth every effort!

Find:

  • 250g pack of butter (cheap as y’like) 200 for cooking, 50 for melting later on for sealing the surface.
  • 2 medium onions or 8 shallots
  • 250g pack of chicken livers (I get mine from the reduced cabinet and freeze them until I want to make this paté)
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic – or more
  • Mick’s terbs . . .. (sorry…..mixed herbs)
  • Mustard of some sort – whole grain is good
  • Gros sel (sea salt grains) – Optional, you can just use table salt.
  • Large glass of white wine – or more
  • A big slug of brandy, Calvados or something equally nice – not vodka
  • A blender or a stick blender
  • A frying pan
  • About half a dozen cups, or ramekins if you have them, or a single, larger paté pot

 

Method:

  • Gently rinse, drain and pat dry the chicken livers in kitchen roll.
  • Fry them in 50g of the 200g you have for cooking, turning them quite often but keeping them on a low heat.  They’ll take about 10 mins.
  • When the livers are cooked right through, sprinkle lightly with gros sel (large grains of sea salt) then tip the total contents of the pan into the blender.
  • Chop the onions/shallots quite small (no ends of fingers please) and gently fry in another 50g of the butter for about 5 to 10 mins on quite a low heat, as we do not want the butter to burn at all – or even to put on a great deal of colour.
  • Crack’n’peel the 3 garlic cloves (see Tricks’n’Tips for the easy way), slice them and throw them onto the half-cooked onions for another 5 minutes, then pour the whole contents of the pan into the blender.
  • Gently melt the rest of the cooking butter in the frying pan and pour that onto the other bits in the blender. It should be looking quite a splodgy, gooey mess in there by now – but it smells great, eh?
  • Put the pan back on the heat, turn up to full heat for a few moments and chuck in the wine so that it ‘shushes’ a lot. It’ll do what the cheffie types call ‘deglazing the pan’.  Actually, all you’re doing is getting all of the nice last little bits of flavour off the surface of the pan using a wooden or even better, a silicon spatula.
  • Pour that onto the top of everything else in the blender.
  • If it’s too much for one blender batch, do two batches and mix them together afterwards.
  • Add a teaspoon of Whole Grain mustard or half a teaspoon of Dijon. (If you only have one sort of mustard, use that, whatever it is, but beware of English mustard; it is strong!)
  • Add mixed herbs to taste, put the blender top on and blend for a while until it’s quite a smooth texture. Chicken liver pate is normally very smooth indeed.
  • Mix in a half glass of brandy to give it a kick. Go on, have a swig as well. Well, why not?  It’s your friggin’ brandy……

Oh, what do you mean “It’s not mine”?        In that case, give it ‘ere!

  • Pour or spoon the thoroughly mixed pâté into teacups or ramekins, or a single bowl – you choose. Just taste that, eh?  Yo, brother.
  • Hey!, don’t eat too much of it or it’ll all be gone. Remember, this is a rich pate.
  • Melt the rest of the butter gently and pour over the top of the pate in the ramekins. This seals out the air and keeps it fresher for longer.
  • When it’s quite cool, pop it into the fridge. It will actually mature a bit if left for a few days in the fridge – I like to leave it for a week.  Then, when you come to taste it . .  . . . Oh yes.

Serve it as a starter with thin toast and a lettuce leaf or two.  You’ll really impress people with your new found culinary expertise.    Actually, it was quite simple, but don’t let others know that.  It’s great for impressing parents and other relatives – and for rather attractive members of the opposite sex. 

“Come up and taste my pâté . . . . yes, I made it the other day….. it was quite easy…… I make bread as well….. this is the bedroom where I make my own bed….”

Pâté – various versions

Pâté – various versions

Prep:           30 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins.

Course:        Starter or snack

Serves:        8 to 10

Rating:         3:  Moderate (well, it’s actually more fiddly than difficult – but well worth it).

One really good thing about living in France for part of the year is that I get to use all manner of different ingredients.  If I see something interesting that might be good in a dish, I get it and experiment with it.  Normally it works well and makes a great version of whatever it was I was making.  Sometimes it doesn’t work, and then it’s just put down to experience.  Today I have just made a superb version of a basic pâté, using chicken livers (tasty but a bit boring) and duck hearts.

 “WHOA!” I hear you say.  “HEARTS?” 

Yes, duck hearts.  I was dead chuffed to find these little gems on special offer.  Don’t be squeamish; they’re lovely.  Heart is a good meat. (I draw the line at tripes or brains, but heart is a good meat from just about any animal). You don’t NEED to use heart in this recipe; don’t fret yourself!

The method I’ll describe is a basic method for pâtés of all sorts, but I’ll give you variations as we go along.

Find; to make enough for 8-10 people to have a starter:

  • 2 large red onions (or could be white, yellow…..blue?) chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 250g butter
  • 500g – 800g meat content – pig’s liver, lamb’s liver, chicken livers, duck hearts or whatever you wish to use…… you don’t have to use duck hearts… or a mixture of any of them
  • Sea salt & ground black pepper (preferably both coarsely ground)
  • 2 tablespoons brandy (an’ ‘arf a bottle for the chef….)
  • You can also add mushrooms, crushed/chopped pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts etc, to alter the flavour and texture, should you wish.
  • Other flavourings (perhaps closely pared orange zest to give a zing of citrus, or ‘ambiance’ if yer wanna be posh).
  • Frying pan, mixing bowl (just any bowl large enough to take it all), food processor (if y’ain’t got one, borrow one. If y’don’t, you’ll be there for a fortnight choppin’!), ceramic dish large enough to take the mixture – or just use the mixing bowl!

Method:

  • Peel and roughly chop the onions. Don’t be too fussy when chopping as everything will be put through the food processor anyway – just don’t chop y’fingers (unless you can stand a funny-coloured finished product).
  • Melt about 50g of the butter in a frying pan and add the onions, heating them very gently to soften them rather than frying them off. After about 5 mins, add lots of ground black pepper and a little salt.  Remember that you can re-balance the seasoning later, but you can’t reduce salt content.
  • Peel and chop the garlic (see Tricks’n’Tips for the easy way to peel garlic) and add it to the onions in the pan. You MUST NOT overheat the garlic.  If it colours up, it’ll become bitter an’ knackered (like me).  You could even turn the heat off when the garlic goes in; that’d do it.
  • Put the now heated/softened onion mixture aside in a bowl.
  • Meat content: You could use all chicken liver or pig’s liver, beef or lamb’s liver or combinations of liver & heart of just about anything, I suppose.  I used chicken livers and some rather delicious duck heart for mine, about 50/50.
  • Trim the livers/hearts/kidneys of the fatty/sinewy bits. Cut ‘em away using scissors rather than a knife, it’s much easier.

(Fry up the trimmings for your dog/cat – he/she will love ‘em cold, sprinkled on top of the normal dog/cat food.  Try to use everything that you’ve bought – you’ve paid for it all, so use it all, even if it is just for the benefit of resident mutt or mog.  Reserve the juices from the cooking of them.  (Not the juices from the mutt or mog.)

  • Chop the firmer meat more than the soft chicken livers (chucky livers only need to be rinsed, patted dry on kitchen roll and halved, really) and gently fry them all in more butter. You’ll need to retain about 50g of melted butter to cover the paté for later, so keep that by for now.
  • The meat content will need about 10 mins of slow, low-heat cooking. When the chicken livers are just slightly pink in the middle, they’re ready – the duck hearts need a little further time.
  • Pour the contents of the pan into the bowl with the onions and mix ‘em all up nicely.
  • Use a food processor for long enough to give a velvety smooth texture. With mine, I processed the duck heart separately and for much less time to achieve a coarser texture, and then mixed that into the smooth chicken liver & onion mix to produce a smooth pâté with coarse duck heart pieces suspended within it, as a highlight.  Posh, eh?
  • Put it all back into the bowl and mix for the last time. Now check for seasoning/flavours and adjust as necessary – do it now.
  • Then add a couple of tablespoons of brandy – to the bowl, not to you. Aw, go on then – but only one small swig……

You must get the seasoning right before adding the brandy because the spirit, in its raw-straight-from-the-bottle form, will kill any flavours in the paté for a while.  The paté will need to mature before it’s consumed, you see.  Sorry, but there it is.  You should have made it earlier then!

  • Pour it all into the final container, preferably ceramic (but there’s nothing wrong with using a small loaf tin or plastic container from your Chinese/Indian take-away, if that’s all you have).
  • If you’ve used orange/lemon/lime juice/zest as flavouring, cut a couple of pretty slices of fruit and lay those either in the bottom of the container if you intend to turn it out to look good, or on the top if you can’t be bothered to turn it out.
  • Or if it’s quite herby, like mine, lay a sprig of herb on the top (or under) – mine has rosemary. Just make it look a bit pretty.
  • Gently melt the rest of the butter and pour it all over the top of everything, sealing it all in, including the herb/fruit/whatever. Now leave it until cool enough to go into the fridge.
  • Keep it there for at least 48 hours; preferably longer as the tastes & flavours will improve as time rolls on – I left mine for a week.
  • Turn it out onto a plate…..or not.
  • Cut slices of the pâté and serve it with slices of seeded bread or toast. It will be delicious either with or without butter.  And you’ll look ruddy heroic when you say “It’s just a little paté I knocked up the other day……..”
  • Don’t tell ‘em about the duck hearts until they’ve told you that it was a friggin’ triumph!