I've had good and sorta good and not really good at all liver pate. For me, I prefer my pate smooth as silk, and to have a faint sweetness. And I like to have a slight aroma of the Cognac still there. These elements make, for me anyway, the perfect pate.
Most of the chicken liver pate recipes out there are pretty much just carbon copies of each other, so I had to write my own recipe for it, tailored to my own preference. It's velvety and delicious!
Here's how it goes ...
It's fast to make too. Onion saute, then add the livers, then the liquids. Remove livers when they are medium, and reduce liquids. Let mixture cool, then into the processor for a quick whirl.
Fill the ramekins, then top with clarified butter. And, maybe a few whole peppercorns for a bite. Chill.
1 pound fresh chicken livers, cleaned
1 cup milk
10 tablespoons cold butter
1 stick of butter - clarified
1 cup chopped sweet onion, such as Mayan, Walla Walla or Maui
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons green peppercorns, or 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 fresh bay leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon good sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup Cognac + 1 tablespoon
4 tablespoons good red wine
Soak livers in milk for 2 hours. Drain well.
In saute pan, melt 4 tablespoons butter and saute onions, thyme, peppercorns, bay & rosemary on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes until onions are translucent (do not brown). Add garlic and saute 5 minutes more. Add the chicken livers and gently saute a few minutes, then add 1/4 cup Cognac, red wine and sugar. Continue to cook over med heat until livers are brown on the outside, but still slightly pink inside (not red, just slightly pink). Remove livers to a plate so they don't overcook, and continue to cook liquids until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and let livers and mixture cool at room temp. Discard bay leaves, and any stems from the thyme.
While waiting to cool you can clarify your butter, you will need that to seal the top of the pate.
Once cooled, put livers and mixture into food processor, along with the remaining 1 tablespoon of uncooked Cognac, and puree until completely smooth. Take remaining 6 tablespoons of the cold butter and cut into cubes -- Add butter to the puree in pieces, pulse to blend making sure it is completely incorporated.
Fill small ramekins 2/3 full and carefully spoon clarified butter over the top to seal. The butter should completely seal the top of the pate, so depending on the type of dish you use, you may need more clarified butter. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving so it has a chance to really firm up.
Serve with fresh, warm french bread or toasted slices of baguette. I don't like capers or cornichons with my pate, I never did understand the pairing -- to me they do not go together. I prefer figs or a good orange marmalade to bring out the sweetness in the pate. Sort of like you'd serve with foie gras.
Pate can be stored in the refrigerator with unbroken butter seal for up to 2 weeks.