Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Chicken Liver Pâté or "French Peanut Butter"

When I was growing up, my family would very frequently go to France for the summer.  It was my birthday, the French independence Day, and my maternal grandparents and maternal aunt and cousin lived in Paris.  My parents and my sister and I would rent a room or two in the apartment building where my grandparents lived, and we spent glorious days together exploring the city and eating good food.  There is still - and always will be - a fond place in my heart for the neighborhood of Marie des Lilas.
There was a butcher shop that sold pâté de foie and jambon and we often got this to eat with a baguette; the perfect breakfast.  (There was also milk and yogurt, jam and nutella, and always my mother's favorite President butter.)  For years, as a child it never occurred to me to think about what pâté was; I just thought it as the French version of peanut butter.  It was creamy, it was savory, it was delicious on bread.  Later on, I learned that it was essentially pureed liver.  Now, my mother had always seasoned and baked the gizzard and liver that came with whole chicken when we bought it, and I had no problem eating them when I knew what they were, so this mystery now solved didn't phase me in the least.  The only thing I learned that day was that I really loved eating liver.
I still have a tremendous fondness for pâté - I can rarely resist ordering it when it appears on restaurant menu - and eating it has a sweet sort of nostalgia for me in that it reminds me of my second home; the place of my childhood summers.
For some reason, it took me years to dare to try making it own my own.  I had some strange belief that it would be difficult, or that I would somehow be terrible at making it.  Instead, I've found it to be ridiculously simple and delicious when made at home.  The hardest thing is finding the chicken livers.

Chicken Liver Pate
1 large shallot
7-8 tablespoons of butter
approximately 1lb chicken livers, preferably organic if you can get them
1/4 teaspoon flaky salt
75ml (or roughly 1/3 cup) sweet white wine
dash of allspice
tiny splash of balsamic
freshly ground black pepper

Heat a knob of butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the shallot and saute until caramelized.
Add the remainder of the butter and livers and cook until the livers are just starting to brown on the outside.
Add the wine, salt, allspice, balsamic, and black pepper and lower the heat to simmer lightly until the livers are no longer bloody when pressed.  They should still be pink on the inside.  If you're a little worried about undercooked livers (as I often am), cooking them a little longer doesn't change much.
Tip into a food processor OR use your handy dandy immersion blender to blend the livers.
Optional: (And I'll be honest, I really don't think it's worth the extra time or things to wash because it doesn't change that much of the texture)  Pass through a sieve into a serving dish.
Level out the top of the puree and chill for at least an hour before serving.  Delicious with fig jam or onion compote.

No comments:

Post a Comment