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Chicken Liver Pâté
Pâté de foie de volailles
- 3 parts Chicken livers
- 1 part Butter
- ¼ part Cognac or other liquor
- Salt, herbs, and spices to taste
- Truffles, garlic or porcini: optional
Use the same recipe for duck and goose livers; other brandies, whiskeys and fortified wines, such as sherry or marsala, can also be used.
Clean the livers, removing any fat and blood vessels with a sharp kinife; ensure the gall-bladder (a greenish sac, normally removed before the liver is sold) is entirely removed.
If you have no cognac, use gin! Use half-a-dozen juniper berries, freshly-ground pepper, and garlic, instead of the customary mace, allspice, or thyme. In the photo you see a glass of Bols Oude Genever, old dutch gin, spiced with crushed juniper berries and ground green pepper, ready to flame at the appropriate juncture.
Chicken livers have a robust flavour and can carry strong seasonings. I always include some pepper, normally black, sometimes green, or even chilli, freshly ground; mace, nutmeg, or allspice marry well with cognac; thyme and garlic are optional. In any event, add herbs and spices to your liquor of choice.
Melt the butter in a frying pan, and heat until it sizzles; pour almost half into a separate small pan, leaving all foam and solids behind. This clarified butter will be used later. Heat the remainder until it is about to brown, and use it to sear the livers quickly, a few at a time, until they are nicely browned on the outside, while the inside remains pink. Put the seared livers in your blender jug.
Garlic adds attitude; truffles add class, and cost; for the rest of us, porcini can also be used. Chop them fairly fine, and incorporate them after blending if you don't want them blitzed to invisibility. You can soak dried porcini in your liquor in advance, or just add them at the last moment and let the blender do the work.
Once the livers are all safely in the blender, briefly fry any aromatics—garlic, truffles or porcini—then add a good measure (in proportion, as above) of cooking brandy to the still sizzling butter; flamber (ignite the cognac—tip the pan, or use a ligher—let it burn), deglacer (scrape the bottom and sides of the pan to incorporate all the flavoursome brown bits into the cognac and butter). Scrape all this goodness lovingly into the blender bowl, and whizz briefly to form a smooth, slightly pink, pâté. Adjust the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste, then pack neatly in ramekins, using a spatula to sculpt a smooth flat surface. Heat the reserved, clarified butter, and cover each pot with a generous (1/8'' 3mm) layer.
Provided the protective layer of clarified butter is unbroken, the pâté will keep for a couple of weeks, refrigerated. It can also be frozen. In any case, you should, if you can, keep it uneaten for several days, to let the flavour mature. Serve at room temperature.