Thursday, November 8, 2007

Home made pate'

Growing up, i hated liver of all sorts. I hated the way it's smell filled the house and got on everything. I couldn't understand why anyone in their right mind would eat it. It's texture was slippery and biological and just gross. Now, i was not one of those kids who only ate hot dogs and mac'n cheese, quite the contrary. My father has always been a great cook and to this day is probably the best home chef I know. My parents were hippies who owned a tour company. So from a very young age, I ate all sorts of food, from Indian curries to organic brussel sprouts (yes, a kid eating brussel sprouts). Throughout the years, liver has always been on my short list of dislikes. Now, this list doesn't include all livers. Maybe I just have good taste or i was blessed with no conscience, or maybe it was years of Iron Chief (Japan), but i have always liked foie gras. (Calves's liver I am still working on) About 9 years ago something shifted, I was in Saul's Delicatessen ( in Berkeley and for some odd reason had a hankering for liverwurst. So I ordered one up and my life has never been the same. I eat liver all the time and if it is on the menu in any form, I order it. I don't know where it started but it seems that Jewish people love chicken liver (gross generalization, but I am yet to find one that doesn't like them). This being said, I am part Jewish and my Jewish God-Father gave me the basis for my chicken liver recipe, so I have to give some props where props are due. Anyway, I took his recipe and read up on some others from the Joy of Cooking and some fancy restaurant cookbooks as well (Chez Panisse or Boulevard, I can't remember). Somewhere between the authentic and the classy I came up with a great recipe for chicken liver pate. I also have to add that this whole recipe cost me about three dollars (watch out $10 challenge) and I highly, highly recommend using organic chicken livers. It cuts down on the "yuk" factor of eating innards.

Feel free to omit the apples if you want but i think it balances out the earthiness of the liver. I also just re-read an article in Sauveur magazine that excluded apples and included tomato paste, anchovy paste and capers. That's a recipe from Florence.
I also like to serve pate on brioche or toasted, but still moist bread. I am not a huge fan of the baked to hell crostini. And for god's sake, put out more bread than you think people will need. Don't make people pile on pate, so gauche.

Salt and pepper 1 lb of organic chicken livers.

Heat 12 inch pan to high heat.

Add small amount of oil (I use olive oil), just enough to cover bottom of pan.

Add livers and brown on all sides and cook til small amount of pink remains in center. This may be done in two batches in order to prevent steaming. You can also break up livers with wooden spoon to check centers for doneness. DON'T OVER COOK.

While livers are cooking, dice about 1/4 cup of shallots and a 1/4 cup of yellow onion.

Cube half a sweet apple. If apple isn't sweet use more.

Remove livers and place in food processor.

Add onions to pan and scrape brown bits from pan until onions are translucent and just beginning to brown.

Add shallots and apples, cook until apples soften and shallots are clear.

Add a tablespoon of sherry and 3 tablespoons of apple brandy or apple liqeur. For all you "appletini" drinkers, don't use Puckers or any crap like that. Use real apple liquer. You can often find it in Russian or Eastern European markets. Deglaze pan and scrape up brown bits.

You can set the whole pan on fire and burn off the alcohol if you want (Be careful, I accept no responsibility if you lose and eyebrow).

Add the solids and a small amount of liquid to the food processor with the liver and turn on (30 seconds).

While mixer is running, add chunks of cold butter to mixer in small amounts (this adds to texture, and amount is totally based on personal preference).

Check consistency and taste. Add left over liquid to thin out pate and season with salt and fine ground pepper.

Continue blending until mixture is smooth. If it gets two watery add small amount of Pate' back to pan and heat up stirring constantly, do not let brown.

Make this dish your own, change it, add things to it, and try new flavors . It is so easy and will impress guests, especially the fire part.

good luck.