Monday, August 9, 2010

Pate - Gourmet Goddess Style

I haven't made pate for ages and I had a bit of a craving for it last week, so I decided to whip up a batch. Making pate is very easy. I think the thing that puts a lot of people off is dealing with the chicken livers, however it isn't as messy or difficult as you think. Choose very, very fresh livers (I would go to a butcher to get them as opposed to a supermarket if you can)

You can make the pate by itself or you can go one step further like me and make a beautiful glossy consomme aspic for the top. This kind of topping not only gives an extra dimension of flavour and texture, it also stops the pate from discolouring and also looks professional and pretty. I added fresh chervil leaves to mine, but you can add any soft herbs that you may have on hand. I didn't make the consomme myself - I just chose a supermarket brand for convenience and it worked beautifully.

I like my pate very smooth, so I blend it for quite a while until I am happy with the texture. You may prefer a more rustic pate - go with whatever you prefer. Sometimes I actually put the mixture through a sieve if I want it to be extra velvety. I didn't on this occasion, but still ended up with a very, very smooth result.

The pate will last for 4 or 5 days if you don't scoff it all before then. Keep it well covered in the fridge.This batch didn't last long - we had polished off one large pot by day two and I took my friends Justin and Marek a pot when I visited them for dinner the other night, which we later enjoyed with a few glasses of French champers as a starter. Very nice.

If you have never made pate, give it a try - it is not hard and flavour is just wonderful. I think the best way to serve pate is with toast, but crackers of freshly cut crudites (raw vegetables) are also nice.

Gourmet Goddess Chicken Liver Pate with port and chervil

You will need:
(for the pate) 500g chicken livers, 3 rashers streaky bacon (rind removed and chopped into small pieces), 6 eschallots sliced, 2 cloves crushed garlic, 200g unsalted butter, 2 bay leaves, a couple of pinches of freshly ground nutmeg, 1/3 cup port, salt and pepper, a splash of olive oil + 2 teaspoons butter.

(for the aspic topping) 400ml cold chicken consomme (I just used a store bought one) 100ml boiling water, 1 tablespoon powdered gelatine, 2 tablespoons fresh herbs - I used Chervil, but any soft leafed herbs such as Thyme (stalks removed of course) parsley or chives would all work well.

Method: First, cut any of the visible connective tissue from the chicken livers, so that you are left only with the livers. Rinse the livers under cold water, drain them and then pat them dry with paper towels.

Heat a splash of olive oil and the 2 teaspoons of butter in a frypan. Cook the chicken livers on a high heat for a few minutes until they are nicely browned on the outside. Do this in a couple of batches so that you do not overcrowd the pan and cause the livers to stew and not brown properly. The livers should be cooked until still a little pink in the middle. Set the livers aside.

Add the eschallots, bacon, bay leaves and garlic to the pan and saute until the eschallots are soft and transparent. Return the livers to the pan and add the port. As the port is bubbling up, use a wooden spoon to scrape up any small pieces from the bottom of the pan - don't miss any, as there is a lot of flavour in those small caramelised bits. Add nutmeg, a touch of salt and some pepper and stir through the mixture. Remove the bay leaves from the mixture.

Transfer the contents of the pan to a food processor and blend for 5 minutes until fairly smooth. Cut the butter into pieces and gradually add the butter a few chunks at a time, blending well in between. Keep blending until the mixture is very smooth. At this point, pour the mixture into ramekins or pate pots. If you want a very velvety pate, then you can pass the mixture through a sieve before doing this, to make it extra smooth.

It is a good idea not to overfill the pate pots - leave enough room for your aspic topping and to give enough space to cover them later without ruining the top of your aspic.

To make the aspic, combine the gelatine and the boiling water until very well dissolved. Strain the liquid (I use a tea strainer) and then whisk the mixture into the consomme. Gently press your fresh herbs into top of the pate and spoon over the consomme mixture.

Cover the pates with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the aspic sets - about an hour. Overnight is even better.

Serve with hot toast or crackers.

**This recipe will make 2 large or 4 small pots of pate. You could also make one batch in a smallish loaf tin. If you do this, I recommend making the aspic first. Let it set completely in the loaf tin, and then add the pate mixture. This means that when you turn it out, the aspic will be on the top and you can then slice it into pieces.


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