Liver is very good, nutritious food and it is cheap. Since the liver is a busy organ, being, amongst other things, the detoxification station of the body, it is better to buy organic liver. For various reasons, liver can be unpopular, especially with children. However, most people do like a bit of pate – so the answer is simple. Make chicken liver pate, the simplest pate to make and very tasty.
The basic recipe is very simple. Gently fry some chicken livers in butter until cooked through, add flavourings and a load more butter, bung into a food processor and whizz away until smooth. Put into a nice serving dish or individual ramekins. If the pate is not going to be eaten withing the next few hours, cover it with clarified butter.
How much butter? It depends on the recipe. Delia uses 1 oz/25 gm of butter for frying, then adds a further 5 oz/150 gm melted butter to 8 oz/225 gm chicken livers in the food processor prior to the whizzing.There are 2 different BBC recipes for chicken liver pate. Both call for 450gm/ 1 lb chicken livers and use 6oz butter like Delia does. Margaret Costa, in her Four Seasons Cookery Book uses a mere 3 oz/80 gm butter to 8oz/225 gm chicken livers. Do not be afraid of using butter. Use organic unsalted. Butter is extremely good for you, being full of nutrients and is a rare dietary source of butyric acid, a fat that feeds the good bacteria in the gut. Please do not use butter substitutes. These things give good profits to food companies at the expense of our good health. If you are dairy intolerant, then clarify the butter. The intolerance will be to either the lactose in milk and yoghurt or caseine, the protein found in cheese. Clarifying butter gets rid of these problems.
Flavourings: these will vary according to who you are cooking for. Most frequent is a good dollop of brandy which is swirled around the pan the livers were fried in, then added to the processor. The brandy goes with a teaspoon of mustard, English if you like heat, French if you like something a bit gentler. Onions and garlic sometimes appear – fry the onions in the ounce/25 gm of butter until soft but not coloured prior to cooking the chicken livers. A clove of garlic is often, but not always, called for. When you add the garlic is going to make a big difference. You can fry it gently with the chicken livers, which will soften the impact. But one recipe calls for it to be added to the food processor raw – so this will give a spectacular kick to the pate. Other flavourings include anchovy essence, thyme, mixed spice, or mace. All call for salt and black pepper – some for more black pepper than others. Essentially, it is a matter of spicing it up according to who will be eating it.
Here is one of the BBC recipes, which calls for the least ingredients. Says it serves 4.
- 8 oz/225 gm butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 lb/450 gm chicken livers, halved
- 1 tblspn brandy
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- salt and pepper
- 1 bay leaf and a few cranberries for garnish.
- Melt 4 oz/100gm butter over medium heat, add the onion and fry until soft but not coloured.
- Add the garlic and livers to the pan and gently fry until cooked through – 5 -6 mins.
- Transfer to a food processor.
- Add the brandy, mustard, salt and pepper to the pan and stir about to dislodge any bits stuck to the pan.
- Add to the food processor, with the livers.
- Add a further 2 oz/50 gm butter to the processor. (Make sure the butter is at least a room temperature. Personally, I would melt it over a low heat.)
- Blend until smooth.
- Check the seasoning.
- Transfer to ramekins or dish and decorate with a bay leaf and some cranberries.
- Melt 2 oz/50 gm butter, skim off the froth (ie clarify it).
- Pour over the ramekins or dish.
- Allow to cool and transfer to the fridge.
If you don’t have a food processor or you fancy a bit of a workout, you could push the chicken liver mix through a sieve. This will make the pate super smooth and your arms super strong.