Yesterday two of our closest friends came round for lunch. They are looking for a new house and had been to a viewing in a village nearby – they loved it, so fingers-crossed for them that it all works out. I decided to go for a simple ploughman’s style lunch so that there was little preparation needed, but that would look and taste delicious. There is something incredibly satisfying about meals that take little effort.
The one effort we did make was to whip up some homemade chicken liver pate on Friday night. I have found a lovely little organic deli in Chorlton called Wild At Heart (http://www.wildatheart.uk.com) which sells very reasonably priced organic chicken livers. This is a great recipe to make for friends and family because it’s simple to make, but looks great and people always seem to be impressed that you actually made pate. Plus, it tastes fantastic.
We ate our pate on Kaiser Brot from the Barbakan Deli (www.barbakan-deli.co.uk) in Manchester. Our ploughmans included: chicken liver pate, bread, a hunk of Manchego cheese, gerkins, homemade pickled onions, Branston Pickle, pistachio nuts, and thick cut honey roast ham. This was all served with goat’s butter, and small dishes of Dijon and Wholegrain mustard.
Chicken Liver Pate
400g butter, softened
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
455g chicken livers, trimmed
1 small bunch of fresh thyme
1 large wineglass of brandy
salt and pepper
*Pre-cooking notes: As I’ve probably mentioned before I work more with approximate amounts rather than exact, unless I feel a recipe would really go wrong without using exact measurements. So if you have a little over or under in weight of chicken livers, just bung it all in. I would, however, recommend using the ‘large’ wineglass of brandy – the first time we did, this time we didn’t, and although it still tasted lovely this time it didn’t have that extra kick and depth of flavour.*
In a small pan on a low heat gently melt 150g of the butter until it has melted. Turn off the heat and let it separate into the yellow clarified buter and the white milky liquid at the bottom – it should do this while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
Gently soften the finely chopped onion and garlic in a glug of olive oil in a large frying pan. Make sure it doesn’t brown. When it’s soften, remove to a plate or bowl and wipe the pan clean.
Turn up the heat, add a small glug of olive oil, the fresh thyme leaves and the livers. Make sure the livers cook on one layer until they are lightly coloured but still pink in the middle. If you overcook them you will end up with a grainy texture not smooth.
Next, pour in the brandy. If you are using a gas hob make sure long hair and eyebrows are well clear as it can flame – we had a serious fire ball the first time we made this pate! Simmer for a minute, then take off the heat.
Bung the livers and their juices into a processor along with the onion and garlic. Blitz until you have a smooth purée. Add the remaining softened butter and blitz again. Season the mixture well with salt and pepper, and then push it through a sieve twice before putting it into serving dishes.
Make sure that you smooth the pate out before carefully spooning over the yellow clarified butter from the pan – make sure you don’t get any of the white milkly liquid. I got a bit fancy and carefully arranged some fresh sprigs of thyme on the pate we were going to serve for lunch. Whilst this isn’t necessary, it’s quite fun and looks nice.
Put the pate in the fridge to set – this will take about an hour. The pate can be eaten straight away, or left a couple of days to let the flavours develop. If you don’t break the butter seal they will keep for up to two weeks.
This recipe is taken and slightly adapted from Jamie’s Kitchen by Jamie Oliver (www.jamieoliver.com).