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by on April 28th, 2013

Chicken Liver Pâté with Cognac Gelée

Luxuriously smooth……

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I would describe this pâté as a luxurious treat. Throw in some cornichons and some thin slices of crostini and you will be delighted with the results. (I forgot the cornichons so my group did not get the tiny little pickles to go with the yummy pate.

I’ve eaten and cooked my share of organ meats; things like tongue, lamb fries, sweetbreads, tripe, chitterlings and gizzards but I’ve never been a fan of chicken livers and their mushy texture; although I do love terrines and pâté. So, when I saw someone on one of the cooking networks make a pâté, I knew I was going to have to make one. But, where was I to start, the Internet of course.

I started with Julia Child’s recipe but then I went to one of my favorite French sites — David Lebovitz. I ended up making his recipe for the pâté but added cognac instead of the port; but then I went back to Julia’s recipe and added fresh thyme and allspice. Thyme is a classic seasoning in most liver pâté and I have a fantastic herb garden this year. (see pics below)

I also added the allspice to the Gelee that goes on top of the pâté.* I was intrigued by the idea of David putting hard boiled eggs in the mixture and by the time it was blended in the food processor there was no evidence of egg parts. The one thing I would have liked to try was David’s jelly on top. He used the port wine again which gave the gelee a really pretty shade of crimson.

While in France last year we found ourselves snacking on pâté and other French favorites daily. I’ve made rillettes before and have made a country pâté but have never tried a chicken liver pâté so this is a first for me.

The pâté can be served without the gelee on top but I like the finished touch it adds to the serving container. Serve with some toasted thinly sliced baguettes with a sprinkle of sea salt. Thinly sliced apples would also be delicious with the dish. One recipe I came across used calvados (apple brandy) in the pate (some call this a mousse) and the gelee and she also put the apples in the pâté.

Most recipes I found contained butter but David’s recipe called for duck fat which I just happened to have a jar of in the refrigerator. So the onions were sauteed with the duck fat and then more of the fat was added to the livers while processing.

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Saute the onions until translucent.

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Saute the chicken livers 2-3 minutes, turning once to cook both sides. They need to be a little pink on the inside.

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Put the boiled eggs in the food processor and the all the other ingredients are added in before you process into the creamiest of pates.

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Pour the pate into jar or serving dish and chill several hours.

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Ingredients for the Gelee.

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Heat the cognac and sugar.

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Dissolve the gelatin in warm water

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Chicken Liver Pâté

Adapted from David Lebovitz

3/4 c. melted duck fat, or butter
1 lb. chicken livers
1 small onion, about 1 cup chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 large hard-boiled eggs
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. cognac
1/8 tsp. allspice
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
dash cayenne pepper

Remove any greenish or blackish spots from the livers, as well as any sinew. Cut the livers into 1/2″ pieces.

Put about 1 tablespoon of the duck fat in a skillet and saute the onions until browned and beginning to caramelize. This will take 10-15 minutes. Scrape them onto a paper towel-lined plate to drain.  Put in blender container.

Melt 1-2 tablespoons duck fat or butter over medium heat in a sauté pan until foam has subsided. Sauté livers for 2 to 3 minutes, until the livers are just stiffened, but still rosy inside. Scrape into the blender jar.

In the food processor, pulse the hard-boiled eggs a few times, then add the cooked livers (scraping in any pan juices), vinegar, cognac, onions spices and remaining 1/2 cup melted duck fat or butter, then puree until smooth. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper.

Scrape mixture into a pâté mold or decorative bowl and chill a few hours until firm.

Make the Jelly.

Cognac Gelée

1/2 c. water, separated
1 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 c. dry vermouth
dash of allspice
2 tsp. cognac

Place 1/4 c. of warm water in a ramekin, sprinkle unflavored gelatin and let it stand for about 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan heat wine and sugar over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes.

Once the gelatin has softened, add the other 1/4 c. of hot water to the ramekin and dissolve until mixture becomes clear. Add the gelatin mixture to the warm wine mixture and mix thoroughly.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and add cognac. Let the warm mixture stand until it almost reaches room temperature. 5. Once it has cooled, pour over chilled mousse. Return the mousse to the fridge and chill until the gelée has set.

Storage: thew pate will keep for three to four days in the refrigerator or frozen up to two months.

*I wouldn’t use ground allspice again because it left the gelee speckled. I might try putting some whole allspice in the liquid when warming it and then removing it before pouring on the pate.

My overall thoughts on the recipe — it wasn’t as deep flavor of pate as some I have had and that may have been because it was all chicken livers. I did use the duck fat which should have added a lot of flavor. I have seen other recipes that blend pork or beef liver with the chicken liver. That will be my next experiment.

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Herbs a few steps away from my kitchen.

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3 comments to Chicken Liver Pâté with Cognac Gelée

  • Aaron

    Your pâté looks a bit pale to me. Try sautéing the chicken livers over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. That will brown the outsides nicely and give your pâté much more flavor.

  • Aaron, that is a good time. I will try that when I make a pate over Thanksgiving. Thanks.

  • Aaron

    You’re welcome, Sherry. Also be sure to caramelize the onions till they turn a respectable brown. Your photo caption says “sauté until translucent.” You want to go beyond that point, as David Lebovitz suggests. That will also enhance the flavor and color of the pâté.

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