Friday, May 8, 2009

Pâté, cheap food that tastes rich

I love chicken livers. Being raised in the south, I first got acquainted to them as the perfect bait to catch catfish. Then, I discovered that they were pretty tasty when fried up. Then, I discovered pâté, and found my favorite use for the bloody, rubbery little lobes.

The beauty about making pâté from chicken livers is that they are dirt cheap. I bought a pound of them at the store for two bucks. That's the most expensive part of the dish. Did I mention this will feed six to eight people? All you really have to have on hand is time.

What you want:

  • 1 pound chicken livers, washed and trimmed
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme OR 4 large sage leaves
  • Milk

To begin, put your livers in a dish with a lid, and pour enough milk into that dish to cover the top of them all. Put the lid on, and let the livers sit in the milk overnight. This is crucial to getting your livers to taste right, no matter what you use them for. Chicken livers can have a ferric taste to them, that if unchecked, can be unpleasant. Sitting in milk will help to avoid this.

The next day, pour out the milk. Put your livers in the food processor. Add cream, egg, white pepper, and salt.

You want to run this on the high setting for at least a minute. I ran mine for about a minute and a half. The resulting liquid was viscous and pink. It kind of reminded me of Star Trek VI when the Klingon guys got killed in zero gravity and you had all of these crazy computer-generated globules of pink blood floating around. Pretty zany.

Anyway, go ahead and pour that Klingon blood into a terrine or a small baking dish. If you're an idiot like me who doesn't have a dish of the right size available, use some ramekins instead!

Snap your bay leaves in half and place them evenly. Add your fresh herbs too. Preheat the oven to 375. Place your dish or dishes into a larger dish, and fill it up with hot water. Cover your dishes and bake. It should go about 40 or 45 minutes. Check it at 40 with a knife to look for doneness. When you can dip the knife in and out and it comes up clean, you're ready.

Remove it from heat and let it cool. Pick out your herbs and bay leaves and discard. Re-cover, and set in the fridge to chill overnight.

Your pâté will be ready to eat the next day. Whatever you want to spread it on is okay. Crackers are good, and my wife likes to spread it on regular toast slices. Me personally, it's gotta be thin-sliced baguette. Best of both worlds, really.

No comments: