Cooking With Confidence
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Appetizers, Chicken, Economical, Side Dishes, Stuffing Stuff

Chicken Liver Pate

by Nick

They say that the sign of a good cook is someone who can turn something that most people throw away into something wonderful – something people would pay $15-$20 to order.

In my experience there are really only two ways to accomplish this kind of transformation:

1) Actual skill

2) Butter

Guess which one I use?

But seriously, chicken liver pate is one of my favorite appetizers to order in restaurants, but most places really charge for it!  I assumed that this meant it was hard to make.  Not so much.

This was my first time ever making this stuff and the results were amazing – at least as good as versions I’ve had in restaurants.

Yield
Serves 8.
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

Print Recipe Chicken Liver Pate

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken livers
  • 2 cups milk or buttermilk
  • 1/2 white onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 anchovies
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • Garnishes:
  • 1 baguette, sliced and toasted
  • Capers
  • Red onion, diced
  • Parsley

Helpful Equipment

Directions

1) Add chicken livers to a bowl with enough milk or buttermilk to cover them. Let marinate for about an hour (or longer).

2) Rinse livers well and flush a few times with cold water. Then cut off any tough white parts of the livers.

3) Add cleaned livers to a medium pot with onion, garlic, bay leaves, and white wine. Bring to a slight simmer.

4) Poach the livers in the wine until they are just cooked through, about 10-12 minutes.

5) Let cool.

6) Drain livers and add livers, onions and garlic to a food processor with softened butter and anchovies. Process until smooth.

7) Season with salt and pepper and spoon into ramekins.

8) Optionally, top each ramekin with some melted butter to form an airtight layer over the pate.

9) Refrigerate pate for at least 4 hours. You can also eat this right away, but I find it's better chilled.

10) Serve with toasted bread, capers, red onion, and fresh parsley.

The Liver Delivers

There are some cuts of meat that I’m pretty sure will always be cheap.  I say pretty sure because flank steak used to be super-cheap and now it’s all trendy and stuff.

But chicken livers, I’m almost positive, will always be cheap.  At least in America, people are weirded out with organs for some reason.  In my experience, most people use them mainly for bait to catch fish!

But the French know what’s up.  They’ve been using chicken liver for a very long time to make amazing pate.

The benefits of chicken livers are many.  For starters, they are dirt cheap.  A dollar a pound will fetch you some of the best chicken livers around.  They also have a much more mild flavor and softer texture than beef liver, but they still have lots of savory (umami) flavor.

Even though they are mild, I recommend giving the livers a quick soak in milk before making the pate.  This will flush out any bitter flavors that are in the livers and leave you with a really smooth flavor.  While you could soak them overnight, an hour is enough to get the job done.

soak

A quick milk soak.

The Nasty Bits

Once the livers have soaked for a bit, rinse them off really well in cold water and then trim off any tendons or other tough pieces from the livers.

Some people might consider this gross, but that’s fine with me.  That’ll keep prices on my pate ingredients way down!

Here’s my finished bowl of cleaned and ready to go livers.

cleaned

Rinsed and cleaned.

The Poaching

Now it’s time to bring some flavor to the party.  While you could cook these in simmering water, I decided to use white wine to give them some nice flavor.

Also, some onion, garlic, and bay leaves are very welcome.

poaching

Good, simple ingredients.

Since we are just going to puree everything later, don’t worry about chopping up the onion perfectly or anything.

Just throw everything in a pot and add some white wine until it just covers everything.

poaching

Chunks are fine!

Bring this to a very light simmer and then let the livers poach for about 10-15 minutes.  Then kill the heat and let them sit until they are room temperature.  That should be plenty of cooking to completely cook the livers through.

Here are my finished livers after the poaching.

poached

Better than it looks.

I actually tried a little bite of liver at this point just to see what it tasted like and it was pretty good.  A bit on the bland side by itself actually.  We’ll fix that though.

Making the Pate

Besides the poached ingredients, there are two added things that are going to make this pate really delicious.

flavors

Flavors and textures!

That strange ugly fish thing is an anchovy and trust me, you want it.  Even if you don’t like anchovies, you’ll want them in this.  You can’t even taste them but they just add more of a savory flavor to the finished pate.

There’s no rocket science to making the pate.  Just add all the poached ingredients to a food processor plus the anchovies and butter and pulse it until everything is very smooth.

One note:  Don’t add the poaching liquid or bay leaves to the pate.  That would make it WAY to runny and the bay leaves would never process completely.  So drain the livers before processing them!

pureed

WAY better than it looks.

Portioning the Pate

While you could just plop this stuff in a huge bowl and go at it with a spoon, I thought it was nicer to portion it out into more reasonable servings.  After all, it’s pretty rich and unless you are serving 10 people (who all like chicken liver pate) you won’t eat all of this in one sitting.

So I spooned mine into a few smaller ramekins for easy storage.

ramekins

Ready to eat or store…

More Butter Never Hurts

I once had a pate in a restaurant (can’t remember where) that was sealed with butter.  I guess the idea is that the pate stores better if it’s in an airtight situation.  Plus, more butter is always good.

So I decided to try that out and melted some butter and spooned it over my ramekins until it just covered the pate.

buttered

More butter never hurts.

Then I covered these loosely with plastic wrap and stored them in the fridge for a few hours to solidify.

You could definitely serve the pate at room temperature as soon as you made it but I think it’s better chilled.  It gives time for the flavors to blend a bit and also has a better consistency.

When you’re ready to serve this, just pop one of the ramekins out and dig in!

spooned

Delicious.

I like to serve this with lots of fun toppings:  capers, parsley, red onion, etc.

The only required thing for serving though is really crusty toasted bread.

That’s the only way to do it!

pate

Trust me. This is good.

I made three huge servings of chicken liver pate for around $8 if I had to guess.  If I ordered this same amount of pate in a restaurant it would probably run me $50.

It’s hard to explain the flavor of this pate if you’ve never had it, but it’s soft and savory and just completely melts in your mouth.

It’s really not hard to make so if you’re feeling adventurous, give it a shot!

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20 comments on “Chicken Liver Pate

  1. I don’t know why, but liver pate sounds disgusting to me….but yet, I have no problems eating liverwurst on a sandwich with mustard pickle relish! My mom likes this stuff, though, so I’ll give it a shot :)
    Was this gritty at all, Nick?

  2. I love pate! This looks great — thanks for “dumbing it down” for those of us who love to order it (or eat it when it comes on a meat board) but too scared to try it at home. I will definitely be trying this! PS the taste is “meat butter” — like butter, only more savory.

  3. While you’re blitzing it, chuck three or so teaspoons of Cognac or Scotch into the mix. Trust me. (my recipe makes less than this and I use two teaspoons, so maybe do it to taste, but damn, does it ever bring the smoke and depth….!) I’ve never soaked the livers in buttermilk; will have to try that next time.

  4. May I? I really don’t care for chicken liver. Hubby loves them fried, but not me. BUT, I am willing to give it a try after seeing your recipe. Almost makes me feel guilty for feeding all that liver to the cat. I really never thought about what goes into pate’, and like most, figured it was something difficult to prepare.

    1. I usually don’t care for liver either. I can’t stomach them fried. Nor do I like liverwurst. Maaaybe I will try them this way. :)

  5. Great Recipe!

    Couple of variations (courtesy of Nigel Slater)

    – Adding some double (Heavy?) to the blender softens the taste of the pate.

    – It’s a bit more faff, but I would pass the pate through a fine sieve after blitzing – to get a REALLY smooth velvety texture.

    – Clarify the melted butter by spooning off the milk solids before pouring on top of the pate.

  6. Yum! I was going to ask you where the cognac was until I saw that @Gayle already had. You go, Gayle! Haven’t tried Scotch, but that sounds very user friendly too.

  7. Interesting! Will have to give this a try, as I love pate at restaurants but sometimes feel a little funny/guilty about the meat source (esp. with fois gras, etc.). Would be great to make this with some chicken liver I can buy from a source I trust!

    Thanks for breaking it down for us, Nick!

    1. Ha. Yea… I hear you there… wouldn’t feel guilty about this though since most chicken livers are used for bait or just thrown away.

  8. Good post, Nick. People should eat more organ meats. I fry chopped bacon & mushrooms with the onions before adding the livers. Also, just saute the livers until 1/2 done, as will they continue to cook. Then depending on my mood, I’ll season it with different things, like chipotle powder, powdered ginger, etc. I don’t care if its not ‘restaurant’ smooth. I’ll put on toast, celery stalks, or just straight from the bowl. Now I have another addition to try…anchovies…yum!

  9. I immigrated with my family from Eastern Europe as a child. I grew up eating this & loving it, of course my school lunches seemed weird to my friends. It was wonderful to read your recipe. Too bad no one else in my household would eat it!!

  10. My Mom used to make pate when I was a kid, but I’ve never actually done it… I know what we’re eating this week =) How long do you think that much pate would be good for?

    1. 10 days pretty easily as long as you store it well. I made this last weekend (10 days ago) and it’s still great. Might even be better than on day one!

  11. I can’t believe why would someone judge a dish without trying it? If they didn’t know it had livers they’d be raving, then throwing up :) SO glad I found your recipe! Can’t wait to try it though. I grew up in Eastern Europe as one of your commentators. I’d be the only one in my family eating it too but that’s ok. I have a few Russian friends around I can share it with or use eat it myself for 2 weeks!!! I’ll let you know how I liked it.

  12. Americans, the younger generations anyway, have not been taught to like liver. Older people still eat it. Just about everyone used to eat it once a week. They liked it, having aquired a taste for it from infancy as well as knowing they needed the nutrition. Time for parents to start teaching their kids as babes to eat it again. I have had to teach myself to eat it. Has taken a lot of tries, but Im finally ok with it. I like both beef liver and chicken liver pate. So many women are tired because they dont get enough iron and vitamin a. Liver is so much cheaper and absorbable for iron than pills.

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