If you’re looking for a brilliant snack to serve friends and family over the festive season, try this velvety chicken liver pâté with green peppercorns. My formula is the culmination of many years of making retro party pâtés, and I hope this easy, inexpensive dish will knock the socks off your guests. (Scroll to the end of this page for links to more of my potted pleasures).
|My Low-Carb, Silken Chicken Liver Pâté with Green Peppercorns.|
|Wine recommendation from Michael Olivier: He says: “Leopard’s Leap Culinaria Muscat de Frontignan Collection 2013, made from Muscat de Frontignan grapes from Robertson. A sweet wine goes very well with paté.”
It looks like: Elegant packaging. The wine is pale salmon in colour.
It smells like: Rose petals and Turkish Delight.
It tastes like: Rich and sweet grapiness. Though not cloying in its sweetness. Percent balance of beautiful aromas, luscious sappy fruits, good counterbalancing acidity and a long gently waning aftertaste with an undertow of rose geranium.
I can’t bear gritty, greyish chicken-liver pâtés: for me even to consider eating liver (shudder), the mixture must be very smooth and fine, with a complex flavour, a boozy undertone and a slight rosy blush on the inside. I’ve added Madagascan green peppercorns to this recipe because I love the way the way their peppery pop surprises your tongue and adds lovely contrast to the richness of the livers.
There are two important watchpoints here: Don’t overcook the livers – a gentle pinkness as you cut into the pâté is essential – and do strain the mixture through a fine sieve to remove any gristle and ensure a silken result. The clarified butter topping isn’t essential to seal the top of the pâté, but it looks so pretty, with its scattering of both crunchy pink peppercorns and brined green ones.
This recipe is low in carbohydrates and suitable for diabetics. If you’re on a #LCHF regime, I suggest you serve it with slim discs of cucumber or crisp celery sticks, or caperberries, as shown in the picture above. If you’re not banting, serve this with slices of fresh baguette or Melba toast.
Low-Carb Silken Chicken-Liver Pâté with Green Peppercorns
500 g chicken livers, thawed
150 g (150 ml) salted butter
a small onion or two shallots, peeled and very finely chopped
1 large sprig fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 Tbsp (30 ml) brandy, plus an extra teaspoon
2 Tbsp (30 ml) cream
4 tsp (20 ml) brined green peppercorns
a grating of whole nutmeg
salt and milled black pepper, to taste
50 g (50 ml) salted butter
a few green peppercorns
a few red peppercorns
a sprig of thyme
Trim any gristle or unpleasant-looking bits off the chicken livers, rinse under cold water and drain for 10 minutes in a colander. Pat them dry on kitchen paper. If they are of unequal size, cut the biggest ones in half.
Melt 100 g of the butter in a large frying pan, over a medium heat, and add the onion and thyme sprig. Cook gently for 4-5 minutes, until the onion bits are soft. Don’t allow the onions to brown – they must seethe happily in their bath of golden butter, without catching. When the butter begins to turn a rich golden-brown at the edges of the pan, add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
Now turn the heat right up and tip in all the chicken livers. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, turning them over now and then. The butter should bubble enthusiastically, and the livers must must take on a little colour, while remaining pink in the middles. To check, cut the biggest piece in half – it should be rosy, but not raw, on the inside. Remove the livers with a slotted spoon and put them in a blender.
Add the brandy to the pan – stand back, in case it ignites – and bubble furiously for a minute or two, or until the alcohol has burned off and the liquid has reduced by about half. Remove the thyme sprig and pour the hot pan juices into the liquidizer.
Put the cream, the remaining 50 g butter and 1 tsp brandy (to taste; you might want to add a little more) into the goblet, and blitz to a smooth pureé.
Put a fine sieve over a bowl and tip the warm mixture into it. Strain it through the sieve by pressing down on the mixture with the back of a large spoon.
Stir in the green peppercorns and a little freshly grated nutmeg, to taste. Season with salt and black pepper. Let the mixture cool to for a 5-10 minutes (this is to prevent the peppercorns sinking to the bottom), stir well, then pour into a clean pâté dish. Smooth the top to as level as you can get it.
Scatter over a few more green peppercorns, and some pink peppercorns if you fancy those, and lightly press a sprig of thyme to the centre. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for 2 hours.
To prepare the clarified butter, melt 50 g butter in a pan or your microwave. Place a new or laundered cloth (a dishcloth like this is perfect) in a sieve, and pour the butter through the sieve over the pâté, to form an even layer.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat.
Serve with crackers and pickles.
Serves 6 as a snack or starter.
Like this recipe? Try some of my other potted pleasures: