I love dining at bistros not just for the comforting French dishes, but also the appealing appetizers. Many times I've shared an appetizer of liver pâté with a friend over a bottle of wine and lots of bread. It's a very filling and not to mention budget-friendly meal. Different forms of pâté can be found throughout Europe, mainly in France, Scandinavia, and eastern Europe. In markets, pâté can be found sold in sausage-like tubes, which is commonly known as liverwurst here in the States. I grew up eating many different types of kenőmájas, as it is known in Hungarian. I couldn't imagine not eating it, especially around the holiday time. It makes a very nice appetizer with pickled vegetables and bread, crostini, or crackers.
Pâté is one of those things that most people will only enjoy at a restaurant or buy in a meat market, but never actually attempt making at home. I've enjoyed many good chicken liver pâtés, but the ones I make myself are always just as good, if not better, than the ones I purchase. For this recipe I make pâté in the French style with a mixture of herbs and a dash of Cognac. It is spread into a terrine, the typical French container, and then enveloped in a layer of clarified butter, which is a traditional step that preserves the product for a month. But once broken through, the pâté should be eaten soon, which won't be a difficult task if it's served at a party. I guarantee that even the pickiest eater will enjoy this pâté. Liver might not appeal to many people, but when homemade and presented elegantly, it appeals to practically everyone. Maybe it's just the effect of the word: pâté.
Chicken Liver Pâté
Adapted from Gourmet.
Note: Dried herbs can be substituted for fresh, but use only 1/4 teaspoon of each.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons duck fat
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon minced fresh marjoram
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
1/8 teaspoon allspice
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 pound chicken livers
2 tablespoons Cognac
Melt half the butter with the duck fat in a skillet set over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add herbs, allspice, and season with salt and pepper. Add chicken livers and cook until just pink on the inside, about 8 minutes. Add Cognac and allow alcohol to evaporate for a few minutes. Add mixture to the bowl of a food processor and purée until smooth. Transfer to a terrine or crock and smooth top.
Melt remaining butter in a saucepan set over low heat. Let stand to separate butter fat from milk solids. Skim foam from the top. Lay additional herb sprigs over pâté for decoration. Pour over clarified butter, leaving behind the white milk solids at the bottom. Chill until firm, then cover with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Yield: 2 cups; 8 to 10 servings.