How To: Pate
Offal is not for the faint-hearted. A dicey subject from the moment it is revealed, often at the just-starting-school-asking-lots-of-questions age, that the lovely crumbed rounds you’ve been happily guzzling for dinner are, in fact, lambs brains. Or those satiny morsels in mum’s meat pie are, woe be me, beef kidney. It’s not a happy set of circumstances that leads you to discover you’ve been deceived so surreptitiously all these years and you’ve been eating the innermost parts of animals. As if vegetables weren’t bad enough.
You immediately subscribe to the theory that ‘Offal is Awful’. Torn by the shock and awe that you’ve been unknowingly and yet happily enjoying innards for several years, coupled with discovering the exact detail of the previous post held by said innards, there is no choice but to swear never to allow another piece pass your lips as long as you live.
The problem with this kind of sweeping disqualification of a whole food group means that every time you are introduced to a new version thereafter; declaring your undying love and promising to love and cherish forever, you discover its dark past upon which you are bound by a Kindergartener oath to break off the relationship without so much as a parting SMS. Clearly a case of ‘it’s not you, it’s me’.
For me, tasting pate for the first time was when I began questioning if my sanction on offal may be just ever so slightly ill conceived. It didn’t look like liver so I was able to hurdle the mental barrier somewhat whilst loading up another piece of Melba toast with this delightful concoction. Perhaps I was able to make an exception to the rule after all.
Despite an effort to be open to notion that ‘Offal is Awesome’, I have to admit there’s not been much progress extending exceptions to any other of the inner parts of animals in my wisened years.
I figured that if I had any chance of making exceptions outside of pate, I really had to confirm my dedication and make pate from scratch. While Dean looked on in abject horror at me sieving blitzed chicken livers, I soldiered on, convinced that if I could do this without my stomach turning, I was indeed making headway.
The road to recovery is fraught with regressive behaviour, but with my first pot of pate at my side I will endevour to move onwards and upwards. Wish me luck!
Chicken Liver Pate
Makes 2 x 250ml pots
600g chicken livers (to make 500g cleaned)
milk – enough to soak the livers in
120g softened butter, plus another 60g
freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
Trim the livers of any dark green and bloody bits. Leaving these behind will make the pate bitter tasting. Pull each lobe away from its connecting threads. Cover the livers in milk and leave to soak for thirty minutes.
Drain the livers from the milk. Heat 40gr of the butter in a large fry pan. When the butter is foaming, drop in the livers. The livers at contact with the hot butter will spit so keep a safe distance. Let them develop a pale, golden crust on one side and then turn them over to do the same on the other. You want the centre of the livers to remain soft and pink.
When the livers are done, tip them and their butter with the rest of the softened butter into a food processor. Add a little salt, freshly ground black pepper and nutmeg. Put the fry pan back on the stove and turn the heat to high. Tip in the brandy and light with a match, tilting the pan to spread the flames over the whole pan and pour into the food processor. Blitz to a smooth puree. Check the seasoning and add more salt, pepper or nutmeg as required.
Now place the mixture in a fine stainless steel sieve and push it through with the help of a spatula or spoon. This will make the pate smooth and velvety. Spoon the pate into a small pot or bowl, smooth the top, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to set for 20 minutes.
To avoid the top layer of the pate oxidizing and going black in colour you can cover with clarified butter. Melt and simmer the 60g of butter, scraping off the scum that rises to the surface. Try not to disturb the butter too much as the butter separates, with the milk solids falling to the base of the pan. Collect the liquid butter that sits at the top of the pan with a spoon and pour on to the top of the pate. Pop the pate pot (with or without a lid) back in the fridge where the butter will set solid. Leave for four hours to allow the whole pate to set before eating. The pate can be stored in the fridge for up to five days. Once you break the butter seal, use within 24 hours.
Serve with toasted bread (hot or cold) and cornichons.Share this on: