A personal favourite of mine, and one that never quite goes out of fashion. Here’s my simple (no brains required) version; this will feed 8 as a starter, or about 20 as part of a buffet.
I’ve never been able to understand why people are so impressed by home-made pate and when you make this yourself, you’ll understand why.. In recent times, I’ve started sieving my pate after blitzing while it’s still warm. I’ve decided that I really like that smooth texture, but it’s entirely up to your personal preference. Apparently you can call it a ‘Parfait’ if you’ve sieved it ..
- High-sided frying pan
- Food processor
- A Sieve.
- Small pots or ramekins, or a larger shallow dish
- 8 oz./500g chicken livers. Fresh or frozen (if frozen, defrost before use)
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- a teaspoon of butter
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped – or 2-3 shallots, finely chopped.
- 2 cloves of garlic – finely chopped
- 1/2 a teaspoon of dry mustard powder
- a large sprig of fresh thyme, leaves stripped from the branch, and chopped
- 4oz/125g of unsalted butter, melted
- Brandy (my favorite) or Port – a splash, oh all right, 2-3 tablespoons or so..
- Sea salt, and freshly ground pepper
- Bay leaves or sprigs of thyme to decorate (optional, but it looks great)
- Check over the chicken livers, and discard any vessels or sinews
- Heat the oil and teaspoon of butter in a heavy-based frying pan over a fairly high heat.
- When it is foaming, add the onions, and stir well, moving them all the time, until slightly golden and softened, but not brown.
- Add the garlic, give it a quick stir, and throw in the Chicken livers
- Stir these around until the outsides of the livers have changed colour and are mostly cooked (about 5 mins)
- Stir in the dry mustard powder, the fresh thyme, and the salt and pepper
- Add the brandy/port if you are using it, let it to bubble up, and allow to reduce slightly.
- After about 2-3 mins, remove the whole pan from the heat. You do not want the liver to cook through; they should be very slightly pink on the inside.
- When they’ve cooled for a few minutes, put the contents of the pan into the food processor and give the liver mixture a good old whiz. I process it for about 1-2 minutes, on and off, checking it every 20 seconds or so, and pushing the mixture down the sides of the processor bowl if required.
- Pour the melted butter through the funnel in a steady stream until it is all absorbed.
- Then have a look. If you’re going to sieve it, it doesn’t need to be completely smooth, but it should be fairly homogeneous .
- Taste for seasoning. I find this difficult, as the mixture is warm, and it tastes quite different when it has cooled. But as long as it is not too obviously low on the salt, I tend to leave it.
- Using a fine sieve, strain the mixture into a bowl, discarding the leftover bits and then onward into your chosen dishes
- I always think that smaller dishes look better.
- Allow to cool, lightly covered with a clean tea-towel.
- As soon as it has cooled a little, decorate it if you feel so inclined.
- Place a (previously washed and dried) sprig of thyme, or a Bay leaf, or a sprig of rosemary and a few whole peppercorns on the surface of the pate, patting them down very, very slightly.
- Melt 125g unsalted butter and pour gently and slowly over the top of the pate, trying not to include any of the solids left in the melted butter.
- Using a flat-bladed knife, make sure that the decorations are under the butter layer.
- Cover with cling film and remove to the fridge, where they will live happily for several days.
- Remove the pate from the fridge about 30 mins before you want to serve it. Keep the cling film on until the last minute. (our cat loves pate – learn from my mistakes!)
- Make some melba or fresh hot buttered toast, remove the cling film, and serve.
- Fresh wheaten bread is great with this too – try Nanny Bell’s recipe – http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/jonnys-nannys-wheaten-bread/
- If you’ve used a larger bowl for the pate, allow people to serve themselves. Or, using two dessert spoons, scoop out a portion for individual plates. About two scoops is fine for a starter.