Seasonal Homemade Paté

Chicken/turkey liver pate

Paté is a much better use of chicken livers or turkey livers than making stock (Which they make cloudy, anyway) – and you might even be able to feed them to members of the household who profess not to like liver by itself, but will (fairly) happily munch of (a little bit) of paté.

It’s also easy to make. The only caveats are (1) use livers from pastured poultry that get plenty of exercise, fresh air, grass, bugs, and sunshine; and (2) do to overcook the livers (which is true of any recipe using liver). The recipe is for 1 lb of liver. Weigh what you have and adjust the other ingredients accordingly. When I last made this a few days ago, I had 3 turkey livers, weighing 3/4 lb together (2 weighted 5-6-oz each, the other only 2.5 oz from a VERY small turkey) , so I used 75% of the quantities below. But this is not an exact recipe: a tad more, or a dash less, will be just fine. I promise.

Chicken or Liver Turkey Paté

  • 4-6 tablespoons butter (60-90g)
  • shallots, or leeks (white & pale green parts only), or white/yellow onions (in order of preference – or combination), enough to have 1 Cup, minced (250 ml)
  • 1 lb (500g) trimmed chicken livers, (if turkey livers, cut in rough pieces of approx the same size). See Note 1
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves. See Note 2
  • 1/3 Cup port, madeira, or vermouth (80 ml)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 Cup heavy cream (60-120 ml)
  • salt & pepper

Melt 4 T of butter in skillet, add shallots (or leek, or onions) and cook on low to medium heat until the alliums are very soft and translucent – maybe 15 minutes. Do not let them brown (i.e do not go away and get distracted). Adjust heat as needed.

Increase the heat to high, push the alliums on one side of the pan, add the additional 2 tablespoons of butter if needed, and lightly brown the livers – 1 minute. Add the wine, thyme leaves, and cook another 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally (mixing the alliums with the livers) until the livers are browned outside and still slightly pink in the middle.

Transfer to a food processor with 1/4 cup of cream and process until smooth. Add more cream (if desired) as well as salt & pepper to suit your taste. Do no let the livers cool before processing or you will have a sticky mess to clean.

Pack in ramekins and refrigerate. I prefer several small ramekins to a single large one, as I can then set them out one at a time, keeping the remainder of the paté cool and fresh-looking.

Serve as a light lunch or appetizer with crusty bread, slightly bitter salad greens (or at least lettuce dressed with a garlicky & lemony dressing), a variety of pickles or relishes. Cranberry sauce (especially if a tart one with oranges & port) is especially good. Of course, it’s also delicious as a hors d’oeuvre or snack, set out with baguette rounds (or crackers), cut celery ribs, bread & butter pickles, young French breakfast radishes, or sliced Japanese market turnips. One just needs a little bit of bitterness and sourness to balance the richness of the paté.

Note 1: should you be in the enviable position to have duck or goose liver, you can use those, supplementing with chicken liver if needed.

Note 2: a nice touch is to add a tablespoon (or two) of finely minced sauteed mushrooms to the processed paté before packing it in the ramekins. Shiitake caps are particularly nice. So would truffles. In which case you may omit the thyme. Or not.

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