Chicken Liver Pâté

Some people grab a Nutrageous, or some weird flavored gum as an impulse purchase. This guy: Two pounds of chicken livers. I don’t even like chicken livers. I’ll go one step further: I think chicken livers are fucking disgusting—on their own, of course. Inject half a lb. of fancy butter into them, it’s a new deal. The recipe I used, from Canal House Cooking Vol. 3 calls for 12oz of chicken livers. The frozen block of those joints I grabbed clocked in at 2.34lbs. Damn that’s a lot of liver! So I doubled the recipe. I should really say that the CHC recipe inspired me, because I ended up substituting and forgetting so many details of it (and it’s only a paragraph long) that I can’t say with any certainty that the results are similar outside of the preposterous amount of butter that goes into it. I got that part right.

Since I doubled the recipe, I started off by sautéing a couple bunches of scallions in 6 Tablespoons of Kerrygold Irish Butter, adding in 24 oz of chicken livers once the onion had softened. I don’t have a kitchen scale anymore because I bought one that ate my 9 volt battery up if I left it in the unit. GRRRR. I would ‘NOT Recommend’ it if I could remember what kind it was. So anyway, I assumed that each liver was 1oz, and I counted out 24 for of them. I cooked them until they were still pinkish on the inside, about Medium, I’d say.

Next, I transfered the livers to a food processor, and added 2 tsp of salt, 2 tsp of all-spice substitute (1 tsp cinnamin, 1/2tsp ginger, and 1/2tsp clove), and I was supposed to add 2 heaping Tablespoons of Dijon Mustard, but I forgot to do that. Then I blended the hell out of it, slowly adding 6 additional Tablespoons of BUTTER! The result should be smooth and creamy. . .

This recipe produced four ramekins of baby diarrhea. Delicious, forbidden baby diarrhea. (EDIT: Turns out baby poop is more a brown mustard-type of deal. . .)

I made fancy little crostini’s to go with it: thin slices of french bread, brushed with olive oil, and sprinkled with fleur de sel and cracked pepper and baked at 375º for 10-15 minutes. My mother-in-law keeps calling them patayta chips, some of the best she’s ever had!

I guess leaving the mustard out wasn’t too big a deal, because I slathered enough it over the toasts to more than make up for it. Although, I lurv mustard, so a double-dose wouldn’t be too bad either. I gave this stuff a sniff after I’d had it all blended up in the food processor, and yeah, I gagged a little. I’m not going to pretend like this stuff is even remotely appetizing in appearance. But, I rolled up my sleeves, and plunged a bite into my skeptical mouth, and, and . . . it was actually delicious! I have been converted. Liver w/ butter is, in fact, a terribly delicious treat.

Chicken Liver Pâté from Canal House Cooking

• 12oz of chicken livers
• 6 Tablespoons of butter (Kerrigold Irish butter is recommended)
• 1 bunch of chopped, trimmed scallions
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp ground allspice
• 1 heaping Tablespoon of Dijon Mustard
• a splash of cognac (optional)

Melt 3 Tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan. Add the scallions and cook until they are tender. Add the chicken livers, and cook until they are pinkish in the center, but not too rare. Remove from the heat, and into a food processor. Add the salt, allspice, the mustard and a splash of cognac if you like. Start to blend, slowly adding 3 additional Tablespoons of butter as it blends. Blend until it is extremely smooth. Transfer the pâte to a well-greased container or containers, cover, and refrigerate for about 8 hours, or until it has solidified. Serve with toasts or crackers with a sprinkling of chopped chives.

A Few Notes: I thought that mine turned out a bit on the grayish side, when I was expecting it to be pinkish-brown. I asked about it at a butcher that I go to, and they told me that the freshness of the livers greatly effects the color. They also said that cooking time, and cooking in aluminum would effect the color as well. My conclusion was that I perhaps over-cooked the livers just a bit, because I was terrified of them at the time. Additionally, they suggested adding mascarpone to the livers when you’re blending them for some extra creaminess. I have to admit that that sounded like a great idea! I also saw that they put theirs in a mold with dried cherries and pistachios, which also sounds great. Next time I try to make this I’m definitely going to give those variations a try.

Cooking Uncategorized

I Bought a Cookbook: Canal House Cooking Vol. 2

There’s a huge box of walnuts in my kitchen at the moment. Having gotten it into my head that it was high-time I use these walnuts, I began consulting my cookbook shelf for recipes and inspiration. I found a good number that I liked, but nothing that sent me to the moon, so i took a stroll down to the flagship Powell’s and did a browse, hoping to find the ultimate walnut blow-out recipe. Instead, I found the Canal House Cooking series. I said to myself: well look at that filthy dutch oven on the cover there, it looks just like mine doesn’t it? With all manner of crusted braises from, perhaps, years gone by. The image immediately struck a nerve, so I leaned up against the bookshelf there and started to peruse. What I discovered touched me in that special place that is responsible for me always being ravenously hungry: page after page of simple accessible recipes with gorgeous photography (helps, don’t it!?)

The authors are Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton, both former editors for Saveur magazine, among other publications, and a food styling and cookbook production team. The Canal House Cooking series compiles recipes that they cook for themselves; recipes that are seasonal traditions, and heirlooms passed down from family and friends. The books publications, and indeed the trajectory of the content within each volume, follow the sequence of seasonality. This edition was published last fall, and as such features recipes celebrating the autumn harvest, and the holiday season. They run the gamut from the easy Fennel Gratin, which I’ve featured in this post, to the borderline-ridiculous Crown Roast of Pork, which is two center-cut rib roasts, tied together rib-side-out in order to resemble an immense crown. (If I could count on enough people over for dinner this Xmas, I’d promise it to the blog.) I expect to get a lot of use out of these volumes, and I urge everyone to check them out. I understand Volume 5 is due out later this month. Keep an eye out for it.

Fennel Gratin

• 2 bulbs of fennel, trimmed and halved lengthwise, the outer-most layer removed
• 2 cups of milk
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 clove of garlic
• s&p
• 3 Tbl butter, soft
• Parmigiano-reggiano
• fresh grated nutmeg

Lay the halved fennel bulbs in a medium saucepan in a single layer with the milk, bay leaf, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer on medium low, and poach the fennel, turning occasionally, until tender, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Butter a gratin dish, then add the fennel in a single layer, cut side up. Shred some Parmigiano over the top, along with a few gratings of nutmeg, and black pepper. Dot the bulbs randomly with small pats of the butter, and add to the broiler. Broil until the cheese browns, 1-2 minutes.