If you’ve only ever had chicken livers fried with onions or chopped up with hardboiled eggs, then it’s time to experience liver in a more decadent way. Not that Grandma’s chopped liver doesn’t hit the spot sometimes, but the smooth, whipped texture and buttery flavor of Chicken Liver Pâté is really something special.
The secret to silky, smooth pâté is twofold. First, simmering the liver in liquid instead of browning it prevents the liver from drying out while cooking. The second “secret” – and actually, this shouldn’t be a surprise, since we’re talking about French cuisine here – is butter. Lots and lots of butter. Some traditional French recipes call for so much butter that the end result is more like butter pâté with a little bit of chicken liver thrown in. Some recipes also add whole cream and many have a dash or two of Cognac or other liquor for good measure.
This recipe, which is based off one by the great French chef Jacques Pépin, uses a little bit more restraint and gives the chicken livers first billing. With less butter, the result is no less delicious. The liver flavor is slightly stronger but the texture is still perfectly smooth and creamy. If you want to add more butter, by all means, go for it. Either way, this chicken liver pâté is a perfect snack, one loaded with flavor as well as protein, vitamins and minerals. Eat it by the spoonful, or use the pâté as a dip for raw vegetables or Primal crackers.
Makes between 1/2 and 1 cup of pâté
1/2 pound chicken livers
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 cup water
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature). For pâté that is very dense and buttery, add between 8 to 12 tablespoons of butter
Rinse the chicken livers and pat them dry. Cut off any white connective tissue.
In a saucepan, combine the chicken livers, shallot, garlic, bay leaf and salt. Add the water and bring to a simmer.
Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer 3 to 5 minutes, stirring once. Turn off the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
Discard the bay leaf. Drain the liquid out and transfer the livers, shallot and garlic to a food processor. Add nutmeg. Process just until the livers are finely chopped, then, with the blade still running, start adding the butter 1 tablespoon at a time.
Once the butter is blended in, season with salt and pepper then continue to process until the pâté is completely smooth.
Scoop the pâté into one large or two small ramekins or bowls. Decorate the top with fresh herbs if you like. Cover with plastic wrap pressed down onto the pâté (to protect it from air) or pour melted butter on top, creating an edible seal (when melting the butter, skim as much white foam off the top as possible).
Refrigerate 4 to 6 hours or overnight so the pâté firms up. The pâté will stay fresh up to 1 week.