As the nights close in and the days get colder, I increasingly reach for comfort. I want something rich and delicious and I want it fast. Some treats in the fridge, whether delicious cheeses or spreads that welcome toast, are perfect winter fodder.
Over the last few years I have become a little obsessed with duck and chicken liver parfaits and pates. Duck liver parfait is one of my favourite things in the world. Regular doses of it spread liberally on some bread or just from a spoon at times that required it, powered me through the intensity that was writing my book. I am going to share a recipe for that too, but for now I want to start with Chicken Liver Paté.
Easy, cheap, rich and delicious. That spells recession Christmas to me. People are afraid of chicken livers. Why? Liver in general gets a bad press because it is often served over cooked and rubbery. It is associated with times of deprivation, when those little chicken livers are so luxurious when cooked just right. Liver needs to be underdone to get the tenderness that it deserves, and that you deserve as you eat it.
My chicken liver pate is basically a butter rich chicken liver spread with some onions and spices, cooked gently, blitzed until smooth and then – if you want super smooth paté this is essential – pushed through a sieve. I also like to add cream for some extra luxury. In my current role as Spice Santa, with my giant jars of spices carted back from Grenada, I gently infused some cream with some whole bright red mace, like a mini jaded octopus, and some lovely bay. I also used rum, but really, it is barely detectable as this is about the spices and the liver, so feel free to substitute some brandy if that is what you have.
I think that this is perfect for Christmas, and you can make it in advance. I serve mine in little bright espresso cups, which I love.
Ps. this really is cheap. 400g of organic chicken livers set me back £2.50.
RECIPE: Chicken Liver Paté
400g chicken livers
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
100ml good rum or brandy
1 bay leaf
1 whole piece of mace of a pinch of mace powder
ramekins or little cups for serving
Bring the cream to just before the boil (take care not to boil it) with the bay leaf and mace and leave to cool and infuse for 1 – 2 hours. The longer the better.
Melt 125g of the butter and sauté the onions until soft but not brown. Add the chicken livers and sauté over a medium heat, turning frequently to ensure that they are evenly cooked for 4 – 5 minutes until brown but still soft, and therefore pink inside. Add the garlic for the final minute.
Blitz the liver mixture in a blender until it is as smooth as you can get it. Add the rum / brandy to the pan and reduce by half. Take the bay leaf and the mace out of the cream and add to the alcohol before adding to the livers and blitzing again. Taste and season with sea salt to your liking.
For super smooth paté, pass it through a sieve. If you can’t be bothered it will still taste great, but you will get a better texture if you do.
Divide the mixture between your ramekins / cups and leave in the fridge to set to cool. This will take about a half an hour. Then melt the remaining butter and pour on top of the little pots of paté to seal them.
Cool until the butter is set and you are ready to go. Or you can save for later.