While technically this is more of a ‘puree’ than a pâté, according to my 1981 The Good Cook: Terrines, Pâtés and Galantines book, it functions, feels and tastes like a modern, more approachable pâté or mousse. Puree is their term used for a base recipe that is then incorporated into much more elaborate recipes. This cook book is a treasure trove of recipes and ideas for all the offal and tasty bits. Savory, buttery, rustic, fussy, pastry wrapped, whipped etc.
Below is my version of pâté, basic framework of liver, butter/fat and some seasoning. You can use different animal livers, each with varying degrees of ‘livery-ness’. In other words, chicken livers are pretty mild, pork is moderate and beef is quite livery. I will often make a larger batch and freeze some for later. You can also combine types of liver. It is not as amazing as fresh but still tasty and works well in sandwiches, with a good mustard etc. Do not hesitate to freeze! This recipe is really flexible.
- 1/2 pound liver, cleaned/trimmed and chopped
- 3 tablespoons chopped shallots
- 2 cloves garlic, finely diced (this can be optional)
- 3 tablespoons butter at a very minimum
- 1-2 tablespoon sherry, cognac or brandy
- Fresh cracked pepper and/or other herbs
- Additional butter for melting on top (1/4 – 1/2 cup)
- Optional cream (1/2 cup or so)
- Clean and trim liver. Rinse the liver, trim off connective tissues and blood vessels. I will also usually soak in milk for at least an hour to overnight. This helps remove any bitter or iron/blood taste. Feel free to put some herbs in with the milk as well, such as fresh rosemary, oregano or Herbs de Provence. Drain and discard the milk after soaking.
- Prepare the dish or pans. I use mini-loaf pans and canning jars. Loaf pans only: butter or grease them and line with parchment paper.
- Heat the butter in a pan and brown the shallots. The goal is caramelize so lower heat and more time is key. Add the garlic when you are about half way done caramelizing, so that it can brown as well.
- Rough chop the liver while caramelizing the shallots and garlic. If using chicken livers they are pretty small so you could brown in the next step whole but I like to have a little more surface area undergo everyone’s favorite kitchen chemistry, the Maillard Reaction. If using pork or beef, chop into 2 inch sections or so, all of approximately same size.
- Add the chopped liver to the pan, turn the heat up a little and add more butter (tablespoon at a time) if you need it. In this step you are browning up the liver. The goal is to cook until light pink in the center but not overdone. it will keep cooking in the next step. This should only take a few minutes.
- Add the brandy/sherry/cognac at this point. Remember it will ignite if using gas stove and flame touches the liquid, which can help cook and removes the alcohol but can also remove your eyebrows. you can also add some herbs at this step if you like.
- When the liver is browned up nicely and still pink in the center, turn off heat and get your blender ready. Put a portion of liver/shallots/garlic into the blender and start blending, add the rest after a minute or so. If you doubled or tripled this recipe, work in batches, never overfill your blender with hot liquids. Be sure to vent the blender as this meat puree is hot and will explode. You could also use the food processor or immersion blender for this step.
- Blend until smooth. You can add heavy cream at this step if you like, pouring slowly in while blending. This is optional.
- Pour the liver puree into the prepared pans, dishes or jars. Top with cracked pepper and/or dried herbs. Lavender and pepper is amazing!
- Melt additional butter and pour this on top, because butter.
- Let cool and enjoy! Either scoop out of the jar or remove loaf from pan after cool and slice.