Monday, February 7, 2011

I Love Liver: Easy Chicken Liver Pate with Pickled Red Onions

I have a total thing for organ meat. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Ever since cooking school when my friend Drew and I vowed to someday open "The Organ Meat Cafe", I've loved liver. Thinking back, it may even go beyond that the whole way back to when I was a kid.

Mom would pull the innards out of the chicken before grilling it, give them a quick rinse, then throw the guts on the grill too. Dad was all about the hearts and gizzards, while mom and I would split the liver. I probably started eating the livers because mom liked them, and I liked mom.

Now, it seems like everyone is starting to get into offal. Almost everyone knows what foie gras is (fattened duck or goose liver), even if they don't agree with how it's developed. Think of it like this though, fois gras is the Rolls Royce of liver, and chicken livers, well, they're a bit more like a Kia.

But I like liver. Specifically, poultry liver. I've never been a liver and onion fan, but wave a chicken liver in front of me and I'm yours forever.

Restaurants have added much more liver to their menus, in terrines, or even little pots of chicken liver pate. Mmmmm. The best is when it's served with tangy-sweet onions on the side, a bit of grainy mustard, and a toasty crostini.

So yesterday, even though my Steelers-loving brother said it makes me Un-American, I made a little bit of chicken liver pate to snack on during the game. I bought some buffalo wings too (no worries), but me, I'm about the liver. One of the very best parts of liver-loving is that they're cheap and they're quick to cook.

Be not afraid, and try this recipe. It's delicious.

Chicken Liver Pate with Pickled Red Onions
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened and divided
  • 1 apple, peeled and diced (I like Gala)
  • 2 large shallots, diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 pound chicken livers (big, nasty veins and yellow stuff removed)
  • salt
  • pepper (black or white)
  • 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
Place a large saute pan on the stove over medium heat. Add 4 T. butter to the pan and allow to melt. Add diced apple and shallots to the pan and saute until softened and light brown, 5-6 minutes. Add cleaned chicken livers and 2 more T. of butter to the pan and cook livers on both sides until browned slightly on the outside and just a tiny bit pink in the middle, 2 minutes or so per side (be careful not to overcook here or the livers will get hard and nasty).

Take liver mixture and place into the bowl of a food processor. Add remaining 2 T. butter and grind until smoothish. Add 2-3 tablespoons of heavy cream to the mix and grind a bit more to give it a nice texture. Salt and pepper to taste, but don't be shy.

Place liver mixture into a large ramekin and cover with plastic wrap touching the top of the pate. Chill for 2-3 hours. Serve with Pickled Red Onions.

Pickled Red Onions
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large red onion, cut in half through the root, then sliced into thin half rings
Place cider vinegar, water, peppercorns, bay leaf, and sugar into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Immediately after mixture comes to a boil, remove from the heat and set aside.

Place sliced red onions into a container (I like canning jars). Pour hot vinegar mixture over the red onions. Allow to cool for one hour, then place lid on container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. I think these are best used within a week or so, but hey, that's up to you.

Got it? Good. Now go make yourself some pate and feel a little fancy and like you're king (or queen) of the liver. :)

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