Makes about 400ml aka enough for 2 solid sandwiches or 1 potluck party
3 Bulbs Garlic
2 Medium Shallots
1lb Chicken Livers
a fat of choice, for roasting
4tbl unsalted butter, cut into cubes
~1/4c heavy whipping cream
1. Roast garlic and shallots for about 1 hour
2. Trim and clean livers
3. Roast livers for 15 minutes, flip and roast an additional 5 minutes
4. Place livers, garlic, shallots, and half the butter in a food processor
5. Pulse until liver is in pea sized chunks
6. Add brandy, spices, cream and rest of butter
7. Pulse until combined into a loose paste
8. Season to taste and pulse to desired consistency
9. Place in a walled dish and press film onto surface
10. Cool until firm
Before we get to the full directions, we must learn a little bit about the recipe. Paté sounds fancy, but it is a very basal food. Fundamentally, it’s meat and aromatics cooked and smashed together until it’s ‘right’. This means that exact amounts and times are difficult to properly nail down, especially for the method outlined below. My understanding is that, traditionally, chicken livers prepared to be eaten as a spread are sautéed or boiled. This recipe is an extension of a very off-the-cuff dish I made in 2015 and relies on roasting the ingredients instead. What that means for you is that the amounts listed above are what I specifically used to recreate the recipe. Your experience may vary so do not be alarmed if you must use different amounts of ingredients or cook for different times.
I made this paté the way it was made because I love garlic, I love chicken liver, and I love them together. It is relatively light on fats in comparison to other recipes by chefs like Jacques Pepin and Julia Child because that’s the way I like it. Hopefully you like it too.
A note on flavorings:
As I mentioned above, I love the flavor of liver. As a result, I run a little light on the flavorings used in this recipe, relying on the shallots and garlic to complement the liver. I feel that brandy is a good match to chicken, but you are free to use port, sherry, madeira, etc. The spices I used were freshly ground pepper (1/4tsp) and grains of paradise (1/8tsp)- allspice and nutmeg would also be good here.
Preheat your oven to 400F and prepare one baking sheet with a layer of aluminum foil, greased with your choice of fat. This will be used later for the livers. Prepare two more sheets of aluminum foil to accept the garlic and shallots. Slice the tops off three bulbs of garlic and place on one sheet of foil, drench in fat and season with salt. Slice two medium shallots lengthwise and place on the third sheet of foil, and also drench them in fat and season with salt. Wrap both the shallots and garlic in their foil sheets and place in the oven to roast for approximately one hour. The target here is soft, caramelized, and fragrant. While the alliums are roasting, prepare the livers.
Pour cold water into a bowl and dissolve into it a few tablespoons of salt. Rinse your livers in the container they came in until the water runs clear. Using a fine knife, trim the livers of white, green, or black spots and discard any livers that are soft or mushy. The ideal chicken liver is a pale brown-red and slippery, but firm. After each liver is trimmed let it rest in the brine.
Once the livers are all trimmed, drain the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Arrange them on the previously prepared pan and season with salt. Place in the oven during the last 20 minutes of the already roasting garlic and shallots. After 15 minutes, inspect the livers and flip. They should be fragrant and range in color from dull red and brown to gray. At this point they are fully cooked but we want a little more color. After the final 5 minutes they should be red and black to brown. Remove the garlic, shallots, and livers from the oven.
Squash out the garlic into a pile and remove the peels and obviously burnt portions from the shallots. Place the garlic, shallots, and livers into the food processor with half of the butter. Pulse until the livers are reduced to pea sized chunks and add the rest of the ingredients. At this point you will be pulsing and watching for it to combine into a loose paste. Think very soft peaks, and moist. Add butter or cream until it will pile onto a spatula but slowly slide off. Season to taste.
The final step is to pour, slide, and scoop the paté into a walled dish, such as a ramekin or Tupperware container. While the paté is ready to eat now, for best results press cling film onto the surface of the paté and chill for at least 30 minutes. It will firm up nicely for spreading onto crackers or bread. The flavor is strong on liver, with hints of sweetness and bitterness. I find it to be excellent.