Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Jacques Pépin's Chicken Liver Pâté

Chicken livers. You either hate it, or love it, and I happen to be in the "love it" category of foodies. It's my favorite part of the chicken! If you're squeamish about gizzards and innards and stuff like that, then perhaps this is not for you, but you should have at least tried it before squirming away.

Before anyone starts rambling about how bad chicken livers are for you because they are high in cholesterol, please read this. Yes, they are high in cholesterol. I'm not denying that. But, they are also high in many vitamins and minerals. Three words: Eat in Moderation. By eating less of other high cholesterol foods, chicken liver can be a smart addition to a healthy diet.

Here's a recipe from the master - Jacques Pépin, courtesy of Food and Wine magazine. I love Jacques Pépin and watch Julia and Jacques, Cooking at Home on Hulu when I have time. I love the older style cooking shows where they just cook and treat food with the utmost respect, which is more than I can say for present day cooking shows (though I watch a fair amount of that too).

Call me old-fashioned, but I like the idea of buying and serving whole animals because that is the first step to respecting your food. Unfortunately, I can't say I know five people who can butcher a whole chicken or fish these days. Supermarkets make it too easy for lazy people, coming to the point of not selling whole fish anymore (well, at least here in New England, the only places that sell whole fish are Asian supermarkets).

You are what you eat, and it is a pity people don't respect food anymore. A little part of me dies every time I see videos of Swedish Mealtime on YouTube, and I'm not linking it for obvious reasons.

Pâté - not the best presentation, but it sure was delicious. 
Ingredients (1 ramekin-full)
  • 1/2 pound chicken livers
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1/4 teaspoons thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons cognac or scotch whisky
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper

Method
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the chicken livers, onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. 
  • Add water and bring to a simmer.
  • Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the livers are barely pink inside (about 3 minutes).
  • Remove from heat, and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
  • Discard the bay leaf. 
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer the livers, onion and garlic to a food processor and process until coarsely pureed.
  • With the machine on, add butter two tablespoons at a time, until incorporated.
  • Add cognac/whisky, season with salt and pepper, and process until completely smooth.
  • Scrape the pate in two large ramekins.
  • Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pate, and refrigerate until firm. 
  • Serve chilled.



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