Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chicken Liver Pâté

...aka Vincent's new raison d'être...

This was made to what I remember of my mother's recipe. It was too late to call her in Cape Town to check on details, so I may have got some things wrong. It tasted like hers, though! We bought a bottle of pretty nice brandy, as I didn't have any, and we'll be sitting with it for some time, I think.

If you're on Weigh-less or a calorie-restricted diet, exit now. Don't walk, run.

I found organic chicken livers at Wholefoods, in a flat styrofoam tray. I'm used to plastic containersful, from Woolworths, so I bought two, not sure of quantities. It turned out to be a lot.


2 trays of chicken livers (maybe 1 1/2 - 2 lbs)
1/2 a stick butter (50grams, I think...must check), for sautéing livers
1 medium-large onion finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, ditto
6 stalks thyme, leaves stripped from stalks
10 stalks flatleaf parsley from your terrace, with or without swallowtail eggs, finely chopped
1/3 cup brandy
2/3 of a pint of heavy cream
1/2 stick butter, melted for pouring into blender
1/2 butter, melted, too, for sealing pots

Okie dokie:

In a wide pan with sides, melt the first half stick of butter, a tablespoonful at a time, and sauté the livers in batches, browning them and flipping them as soon as they have some colour, then taking them out and keeping them in a large bowl. Don't overcook: quite pink inside is good. Watch the heat, as you don't want to burn the butter and get a scorched taste into the pâté.

With each batch add to the pan some parsley and thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Do this until you've got through them all, and finally cook the onion and garlic until translucent.

You will by now have a good layer of fond coating the pan. Turn up the heat. Pour in the brandy and stand back, it may ignite. Let it bubble for a minute or so to cook off a little and mellow, stirring to loosen the brown bits off the pan and into the liquid. Return the chicken livers and onion to the pan and stir. Turn off heat. Add cream, stir, and taste for seasoning.

When the liver mixture has cooled, either food-process or blend it in batches. I blended. It should be mousse-like. As you blend each batch dribble in a little of the melted half stick of butter.

Pour into ramekins or what have you. Cool till set, press a parsley leaf or thyme sprig, or thyme flowers into the top and pour over a little of the last half stick of butter to seal.

Chill in fridge or freeze. Frozen, it will last a long time, wrapped up.

Pretty potsful make good gifts, and a freezerful of pâté is easy pickin's for last minute suppers or appetizers for a dinner party.

Why do I suddenly sound like Martha?

Oh, the bread? Brown seed bread. Preferably bought in South Africa. But that another story.


  1. oh wow- I don't even like chicken livers but my mouth is watering. The pictures and descriptions of your recipes are inspiring. I'm going home to cook now.

  2. Good paté is definitely something I can't easily get easily here. I never thought to make my own, and love the concept of freezing some. Will have to leave some room in the freezer after berry-picking Friday...

  3. What a thing of beauty... a get a "lost art" feeling off of that...

    Looks amazing..


  4. hmmm ... lewer is nog een van my residual fiemies-kosse uit my jeug, maar hierdie lyk eintlik nogal tempting.

    en ja, iewers langs die pad begin ons almal soos martha klink.

  5. I tried to run, honest! But I found myself creeping back, peeping through my fingers.... Looks wonderful; freezable too - even better.

  6. You got it right. Sometimes I add a little bacon at the beginning and it all gets whooshed up into the smooth patè

  7. Pee ess
    Forgot - black pepper and some salt to taste

  8. I just recently discovered your beautiful blog. I am loving it!!

  9. Ok, I'm doing this. Not today, but I will.

  10. choor killing me. can i live in your freezer?


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