Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Tale of Chicken Livers

Raising your own chickens has become increasingly popular in our area. Sweetie has been there, done that and has the tee shirt, too, after helping to start an egg co-op in Micronesia in the early '70s. As a result, he is smart enough to let others raise the chickens. Fortunately our neighbors across the road have taken to chicken farming with delight, raising both egg layers and chickens for eating. Since we help them now and then with chasing the chickens into their coop at night (so as to not get eaten by the local foxes), they gift us now and then with a chicken dinner, fresh broth, and very fresh livers. For a recent chicken dinner, I made one kind of pate', the goodwife made another, plus chicken livers wrapped in bacon and broiled. It was a feast! G made outstanding barbecued chicken for the main meal.

Freshness and careful handling are very important when dealing with chicken livers. Since it was too hot to turn on the oven, I made the kind of pate where you gently simmer the livers in water flavored with celery and peppercorns, then process them with yummy things like cooked onion, garlic, whipping cream, brandy and herbs. Since this makes a light and smooth paste, I added chopped walnuts and crumbled bacon for both flavor and texture. It went well on baguette slices. My friend made a pate' with a bit more texture and deep, wonderful flavor from anchovies and citrus zest, plus wine. Served with toasted slices of country bread it was delightful. The broiled bacon wrapped livers were excellent, too. We enjoyed them all!

Not about chickens, but about a kickstarter campaign you might be interested in. This fellow is not chicken at all and has a great idea for a flavorful bun for sandwiches. Check out Perry Livingston of the Bread Beaker here: I wish him every success and am impressed by his initiative.

Back to the regular post - I didn't get a recipe from my friend, but I can give you mine, which was a combination of about four recipes I found in various cookbooks. The uniting theme was the simmer in flavored water until barely cooked...there should be some pink in the center when you cut into the livers. The recipe made enough that we had another crock ready for a picnic this weekend, but it wasn't as nice as the freshly made pate', so consider eating it all at once, or making a smaller amount.

Chicken Liver Pate' de la Maison
Makes enough for 6-8  

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 small stalks celery
4 whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups water
1 lb chicken livers
1 stick softened butter
pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup brandy or Cognac
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup cooked, drained, crumbled bacon
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped

Melt butter and sauté onion and garlic over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, place the celery stalks, peppercorns and salt. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat so water just simmers. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove cover, add rinsed and drained chicken livers, return to a simmer, cover, and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Insides of livers should still be a bit pink.

Drain mixture in pot, discard celery and peppercorns. Placed drained livers in a food processor fitted with a metal blade.

To the food processor add the butter, cayenne pepper, thyme, nutmeg, allspice, heavy cream and brandy or Cognac, and onion mixture. Process until mixture is smooth, scraping down work bowl as needed.

In the same pan you used to sauté the onions, place the walnuts and cooked bacon. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until bacon releases a bit more oil and walnuts are fragrant. Add the parsley and stir to combine. Add this mixture to the liver mixture and stir to combine.
Scrape the pate mixture into small crock or crocks. Smooth the top, decorate with a parsley leaf if desired, cover with plastic wrap and chill 4 hours or more. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Serve with slices of baguette or toasts.

1 comment :

  1. Excuse me for commenting so late on this post....

    How cool to have access to fresh eggs!! And livers. Oh my. Those bacon wrapped livers sound delicious.

    Your pate sounds wonderful.

    We love chicken liver pate - when we make it, we use the Silver Palate recipe that calls for adding green peppercorns and serve it with two kinds of bread - ordinary baguette and Clarke's bread (our September 2012 BBB bread) Chicken liver pate is fantastic with that bread!