Pâté…Reflections from the home cook.
My favorite memory of chicken livers was when Aunt Marla and I were leaving the Piggly Wiggly in Albertville- and the fella that brought the groceries to her radiant blue Corsica- well, he dropped the chicken livers- and we laughed. Aunt Marla said maybe the cats will come get them. I guess cats like livers as well.
Surely, I won't be like Edith Massey, in Pink Flamingos as she is about her eggs, though me, with that beloved liver.
The music at church was really good today- so that was fun. I played some Frank Bridge and a Renaud Toccata- but I whittle it down to not bore, or make them last too long so as best to fit with the livestream.
So, anyway- A lovely day.
Shimmy Shimmy- Co-Co-Pops!
I love fried chicken livers. I liked chopped chicken livers, you know with the boiled egg, and all that good stuff- tres NYC, tres Katz. I miss going to Reid's in Guntersville.
Firstly, let me encourage you to not let your culinary lexicon sound ridiculous. Lesson 1:
Don’t be a cringe inducer.
Pâté…well, Chicken Liver Mousse/Pâté/Spread. Some people love it- some folks despise it. The Pâté that I speak of simply is chopped chicken liver- but on a finer degree of praise-elevation-jubilation church of hallelujah amen dish, or you could call it a mousse, should you want to crank it up to that summit of culinary velvet…both the same really.
Frequently- of my parties, and most of my birthday parties, and friend’s birthday parties- we have always had a liver pâté served, as it’s one of my favorite treats. It all started perhaps around 2009/2010 when our much more seasoned friend Alan- up in Florence, Alabama, brought his famous pâté to my birthday party- that was the night that I became interested in this culinary magic trick. A pâté- something we should all enjoy- alas, some people are afraid...especially my friends that think “French Toast” and fried pickles are an exotic delicacy. The liver is an intimidating foodstuff for SO MANY! Lord, have mercy, like OMG.
I have for many years wondered exactly what his recipe was, it is hard to beat though. I think he used Sherry. I like that name- Sherry. I want to say that the recipe was from one of the older Four Seasons Cookbooks- though, I haven’t looked, and I’m not really doing a research paper.
What is pâté? Well blessed# yum…meat paste. So let us focus on chicken liver pâté only for this diatribe…. Liver is a special taste. I don’t expect everyone to like it. This is my blog, so I will celebrate the beloved chicken liver pâté or mousse or spread. I will try to use my chosen interchangeable terms, because my personal recipe is sort of a meeting between mousse texture with less air, and ingredient de la pâté…
I am not venturing in directions to argue the etymology of pâté. Wikipedia is on the internet- you can go there or somewhere even better for the history.
Okay- terrine style of pâté is good- though I usually only buy those kinds, because as a home cook, I am not going to go to all of that trouble. Also, I’m not going into the force-meat explorations at this juncture in my life. I bought that grinder attachment for the KitchenAid, but I took it back- as with most products that grind- HURRY take it back. It always ends up being trouble- as well as 95% of the Kitchenaid (not a death sentence anymore) attachments are. The Terrine often times seems too coarse or too jelly-like, or too much greasy gelatinous fat around it. YES, those qualities in the terrine are fine, just not what I prefer when it comes to processing meat products into a block or a mixture to spread/dip. Terrine is good for cutting- that’s a whole other dish for another day, or not at all from me. Also, get that mustard and get that cornichon going with it. Rustic. Wow gurl- you be so Fraynch.
Simply chicken liver mousse/pâté.... chopped liver- whatever....it’s liver dip….that’s what I really think we should call it. Liver Dip…sounds like a nice 1950’s dance. You just need a food processor or blender for my favorite versions.
So, the magic trick is the good liver. I have known some people to soak their livers of all sorts in milk- I don’t do this, mainly because I rarely keep milk in my house, I think it’s perverse and I don’t like the taste. Liver soaked in milk doesn’t seem too relevant to home cooking for chicken livers- I guess I can see how it would be interesting to soak calf’s liver in milk. If anything- why not clean the livers- soak in a bit of that good cognac, or Sauternes- some liquor.
For a good pâté, I like the humble and tasty chicken liver pâté de la praise. I have found to be best for my cooking parameters, as my go-to recipe from Gramercy Tavern, the book dictates to not cook the chicken livers until they are dull and brown inside, but rather leaving them a little pink inside. I’m sure you’re not going to die if you don’t fry the hell out of the livers- so don’t bellyache and write to me should…. errr…your belly ache. Also, remember how many chickens had to be massacred to get a pound of liver…How monstrous are we to kill 24 precious birds for their 24 blood filtering organs, so that we can fry them up to serve with ketchup? They are indeed delicious!
The wonderful muckraker writer Upton Sinclair in “The Jungle” says that some of those cows got injected with things maybe like tuberculosis et-cetera, I don’t really know the details- I read it in 1996- anyway the cow would be injected with some bacteria and it would make them swell up and bloat, and they could get more product after the slaughter to make more money for the meat packing industry. I read somewhere recently like 2022/23 that some workers were found at the bottom of a cooking vat cooked down in some factory- how Sinclair-ian. So, what I am getting at- try to find a good chicken liver brand- be sure you clean them and make sure the sinew has been cut away. Hopefully Chicken Little wasn’t pumped full of hormones, and won’t have those giant bloated livers like that of his Geese Cousins in France… Neither is right- don’t torture the goose by force-feeding it, and don’t pump the beasts full of chemicals, bacteria, or hormones.
Speaking of bellyaches, it is not cool too force feed the goose so its little liver gets so fat; as delicious as the liver of the overfed fowl may be- it’s simply not nice. Side-piece: I know a couple that force feed each other on their OF…Interesting folks. The goose liver pâté is fine- I like it just fine, that’s all. I’ve not been transported to France because of it…The only places I want to be transported to are Japan and Los Angeles. Lawss-Annjuleeze.
My friend Jason Allen (The Carriage, Wine & Champagne Specialist, Purveyor de La Praise, Opera Singer, Bon Vivant) well, he says that prefers his pâté light as air, and more like a whipped mousse. Well, he may not have said it in those terms- but, he has said that he wants to make it so super fine. Beautiful. This is a delicious idea. He likes the luxury model- and it is indeed good. When we do that style, be sure to use the best of the ingredients that you can procure. Definitely think about brining the livers in cognac and maybe calvados or some maple syrup and maybe a touch of Scotch…The dense style is a little laborious to serve as a dip- the airy version is more user friendly as a dip. Should you keep yours more dense and not process through a sieve as much, then prepare your vessels that you will serve the pâté in, ahead of time, to pass around or put on the tray at the buffet. I sigh- though, I like both, it’s just the super airy version reminds me of whipped cream cheese, which is ugly to the eye, and costs too much to put air in cheese, and charge more for it.
I prefer a boozy/butter/fat rich pâté, though more dense and dip-like than the mousse-y sort. I also find that the more dense version is better for other purposes…such as putting on banh-mi, or finger sandwiches, or even stuffed into little boiled quail eggs. I’ve tried filling the “deviled” egg, with a pâté- it’s fine- it’s a little rich for larger eggs. I don’t like to mix the yolks in the liver pâté/mousse though when I do/have serve/d it in “deviled egg” style.
To make your pâté mousse like- or light like my friend likes his- is after you have blended the pâté ingredients, you then cool it down (not refrigerate) – (as you will notice the warm liver mixture that goes into the blender/processor, will be liquid, so this particular texture works best to not be warm)-run through a sieve (fine mesh) about two or three times to remove all traces of less than fine texture pâté mixture.
In my pâté recipe, which will follow, I just run the liver mixture (post blend/process) through a sieve no more than two times, and then for visual effect mainly, I create a nice beef consommé sort of aspic on top of it. I have used truffles a number of times in the gelatin, and also the pâté, but I really find it to be a waste of truffles, unless you have a very mild pâté. Though, black truffle in the gelée/aspic, it looks really chic- but who cares. Usually if you’re having (my) pâté, you’re at a party or a darker room, where folks are celebrating something, or are in cocktail hour mode- which no doubt doesn’t require your pâté to be terribly handsome.
I like my Pâté/Spread/Mousse de la Liver au Chicken served with the following items:
Due to the butter content, I like for my mousse/pâté/spread mixture to be refrigerated overnight or around 12 hours, preferably 24/36 hours….and then I like to let the mixture come to room-ish temperature so that it “dips” without a great big mess or wad of gloppy organ paste.
Okay- Blessed Assuriance. Here is the Recipe:
Adapted from Danny Meyer & Dorothy Kalins “The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook”
Chicken Liver Mousse/Pâté De La Christoffer Joel De La Praise
So- Praise the Lamb- Take a skillet and sauté the minced shallots a little in some neutral oil, and I like to pour a little wine of any kind in with then the chicken livers- then perhaps add some butter and cook gently until the livers are pink inside- but not cooked so much that they are crumbly- they get grainy.
While the liver mixture cools down (not hot- warm is needed)-add the dry seasonings and stir that in, if you haven’t done before- correct or “doctor” up the livers with salt and pepper. -at this point if the spirit leads you, feel free to add a touch of red pepper flakes, maybe a dab of truffle oil.
In the blender- Add the sticks of margareen and butter. To that-add a little of the chives. The butters/margarines doesn’t need to be super cold- as long as the liver mixture is warm enough. Pour about 1/3 cup of Calvados and ¼ cup of Cognac.
Pour in the liver mixture. Puree- and mix till it is a silky consistency. Yum. Blessed#
Pour the mixture through a fine sieve, as many times as you like. Pour into a crystal bowl, and chill.
While the mixture chills, prepare an aspic- I prefer golden or brownish. I use a strong beef broth- clarified as clear as you can make it- synthetic is fine with me, beef cube, who cares. Throw some chives or chopped bits of truffles in a mixture of a basic aspic made with an envelope of gelatin and instead of water- use the beef broth.
The pâté should be set at this point- cover the top with the aspic- refrigerate- and serve later. I like it closer to a cool room temperature so it spreads so buttery like, or dips more tenderly.
I recommend buying their book- here’s a link to their website:
SOOOOO many delicious treats in that book!
Thanks for reading-