There is just something sophisticated and decadent about a pâté. Even the word “pâté” sounds like something only the rich and famous would be able to afford. But alas, that is absolutely not the case with this recipe. This pâté is made with chicken livers. And yes, there is some shiitake mushroom action going on, and a bit of cognac for that extra special richness only a fine brandy can impart, but other than those two fairly pricey ingredients, the rest are pretty standard fare.
I particularly love this recipe, not only for the flavor, but because of the soft, smooth and creamy texture. And I know in some circles I would be considered a plebian. But I simply don’t like pâtés that have chunks of meat in them, even if the meat is smoked ham or duck confit. These are what I consider to be rough country pâtés. And when I look at them, even the ones that are wrapped in bacon or pancetta, all I can see is dog food. (Like I said – plebian!) But if truth be told, it’s not just the appearance factor that I resist, it’s the texture. I want a smooth texture reminiscent of Bavarian Meats braunschweiger. (And if you live in the Seattle area and don’t know about Bavarian Meats, shame on you! Get acquainted at your earliest convenience. They have a retail shop at the Pike Street Market.)
Anyway, back to pâté. I want a spread that can easily be smeared on bread and not fall off! And it must have a flavor that makes you want to eat the entire bowl. And this recipe has both of my mandatory requirements. It is beyond belief delicious and it stays firmly on bread even if it is slathered to an alarming thickness. (Guilty as charged.)
So do yourself and your friends a favor and give this tasty treat a try. And I realize that some people may never have been exposed to pâté. Or they may even be completely intimidated by chicken livers. Just don’t tell them what’s in the spread. Or if they persist, tell them it’s pureed chipmunk. And then when they look at you aghast, tell them you were just kidding. Of course you would not feed them darling little rodents! By then they will be so relieved that they will forget their earlier reservations and just eat the pâté. (We cooks sometimes have to go to great lengths to get our family and friends to try new foods.) But please, try new recipes at every opportunity. Remember, even guacamole was new to all of us at one time. And now, I personally can’t imagine life without this perfect dip. Can you?
FYI: picture to follow
- 8 T. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
- ½ lb. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
- 4 green onions, chopped
- ¾ to 1 lb. chicken livers, trimmed of connective tissue and fat
- ¼ c. Chardonnay
- 1¼ tsp. kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper (about 4 grinds)
- ½ tsp. dry mustard
- ¼ tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
- 4-oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 T. Cognac
- baguette slices and crackers
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large, heavy skillet. Add mushrooms. Sauté until tender and beginning to brown (about 15 minutes). Remove mushrooms to bowl of food processor, reserving about 9 slivers for garnish. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter in the pan and add the green onions. Sauté for two minutes. Add the chicken livers and sauté until the livers are barely done. (There should be just a tinge of pink remaining.) Add the wine, salt, pepper, dry mustard, nutmeg, and cloves. Simmer for one minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove livers to food processor (save liquid) and whirl until smooth. Carefully pour remaining liquid from the pan into the food processor and blend on high until mixture is very, very smooth. Add the cream cheese, cognac, and remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and whirl again. Taste and adjust seasonings. Transfer to a serving container, garnish with the reserved mushroom slices, place plastic wrap directly on top of pâté, refrigerate, and forget about the pâté for at least 3 days. (That’s the hard part of this recipe!) When ready to serve, bring to room temperature and serve with baguette slices and crackers. A nice bowl of cornichons on the side is a perfect accompaniment.