This chicken liver paté is a combination of a couple of recipes, including my Mom’s famous version, which we used to make in batches around Christmas and then hand out to friends as we saw them. It makes a lovely creamy and smooth consistency, which is great for spreading on anything from crackers to toast or scooping with crudités.
As an added bonus, liver is exceptionally good for you, being extremely high in protein and many important vitamins and minerals that we don’t easily get from other sources. Having said that, it can be a bit of an acquired taste and I must admit that I don’t generally like livers on their own. I love this paté though – I’m not sure if it’s the sweetness or the consistency, but it’s one of my favourite things to snack on.
My Mom swears that the secret is all the onions, which give the paté a natural sweetness, without being sickly in any way. Just for something different, I’ve adapted the recipe by reducing the onions slightly (yep, the original calls for 8 onions) and adding an apple. I’ve also added some allspice, which gives a slightly different flavour, along with whatever combination of other herbs you choose to use.
For the livers, do your best to find free-range ones if you can. If you’re in South Africa, Woolworths sells them and they’re also often available at organic-type shops. Meat from animals that have been exposed to sunlight and grazed on grass gives you even more nutrients and is way more ethical too.
Traditionally you would use brandy for chicken liver paté, but I have successfully used both wine and whisky too. I’m told that if you don’t do alcohol, you can use something like apple juice instead, which I’m sure would work well. Feel free to experiment with your own flavour combinations of spices and alcohol to find out what you particularly like.
The paté freezes very well, with only a slight change in consistency, especially if you cover it with a thin layer of melted butter before freezing. This batch makes 4 – 5 small dishes, which are all you need since it’s very rich. So if you keep a couple out to use right away and freeze the rest, you can just whip one out to defrost first thing in the morning if you’re thinking of using it later that day. Very handy and delicious, all in one!
- 2T butter
- 4 – 6 large onions, chopped
- 1 apple, peeled and chopped (optional)
- 1 – 2t fresh thyme, rosemary or mixed herbs, stalks removed
- 500g free-range chicken livers
- 1/3c white wine, brandy, whisky or tequila
- ¼c cream or crème fraiche
- 1t salt
- ½t ground allspice (optional)
- ½c melted butter, plus extra if you are not going to be eating the paté in the next couple of days
Melt 1T butter in a frying pan. Add the onion, apple (if using) and thyme leaves and sauté until the onion softens.
Then remove from heat to another bowl to make space for the livers.
Melt another 1T of butter and add the chicken livers.
Cook until they are mostly browned, stirring often. They can be a little pink inside but not too much – break one in half to check.
Then add the wine or brandy and cook for another couple of minutes to combine the flavours.
In the meantime, put the extra ½c butter on to melt. As soon as it’s melted, remove it from heat.
Now add the onion mix to the cooked livers and their liquid, and add cream, salt, pepper and allspice. If you are using a hand blender and have a big enough cooking pot, you can blend in that, otherwise do it in a big bowl.
Process with a blender until the mix is smooth. If you want it to be very smooth, you may need to use the grinder attachment and process it in batches.
Once it’s completely smooth, add the melted butter and blend again. The extra butter helps to set the mixture into the right consistency.
Immediately pour the warm mix into small dishes and put in the fridge to set for at least a couple of hours, preferably overnight.
It will firm up quite a bit as it cools and get less shiny.
When it’s set and if you are not using it in the next day or two, melt some more butter to pour over the top of the paté to seal it.
Put it back into the fridge. Once the butter has set, cover with clingfilm and freeze whatever you are not planning to use soon. When you do want to use it, completely defrost it in the fridge first.
Serve as a snack or starter with:
- Crudités like celery or carrot fingers, snap peas, baby tomatoes
- On baked potato
- In pasta
© Alexandra Lawrence and Inspired Nourishment, 2014