Paupered Bliss: Chicken Liver Pate with Pickled Grape and Sherry Gelee

May 17, 2009

At the farmer’s market, rather than beauty I seek the ugly and overlooked. I want food that gets no charity. No free handouts from the minibar. What do I find? Chicken livers.

Raw chicken livers get a skeptical and uncomfortable smile amongst foodies. Silly kids. It is only when I produce brandied chicken liver pate with pickled grapes and a sherry gelee do I win the praise of the masses and the due recognition chicken livers deserve. I call it vision.

I ask my sister if she eats livers. She says yes. The Philipinos at her work store liver adobo in their pockets. They are ahead of the times. She echos what I realized at the check out counter. Liver is cheap.

Yes, my bag of livers (harvested from previously free-waltzing chickens) was only $2.40/lb. And in bougey SF, that is a STEAL. I am hesitant with livers, but in the end I am committed. And the velvety pate is divine. It is incredibly flavorful and evocative. The gelee and pickled grapes offer an escape from the buttery decadence. This from a girl who doesn’t even like pate…

This recipe is Spanish in origin, first published by Penelope Casas via “Casa Irene”, a restaurant that freckles the Iberian coast. The sherry aspect exposes the Spanish roots which, along with fino, is native to the Puerto de Jerez. Coupled with pickled grapes (via Smitten Kitchen), the tart strikes a harmonious chord of dissonance against the backdrop of buttery pate//OUT OF THIS WORLD.

Well worth the $1 I spent on a half pound of these chicken livers. Please enjoy.

CHICKEN LIVER PATE WITH SHERRY PICKLED GRAPE GELEE (Makes 1½ cups) Total Time – 1 hour for pate, 4 hours for gelee, Active time – 1 hour.

SUMMARY The pickled grapes I had, so if you don’t have some on hand, go ahead and do a quick pickle, using this recipe. The only special machinery you need for this dish is a blender. You sauté and blend the pate, let it set and cover with gelee. Remarkably easy.

- 12 T softened salted butter (it’s no weight watchers around here)
- ½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- ½ lb chicken livers, rinsed and patted dry
- ½ t minced rosemary
- ¼ t nutmeg, freshly grated
- 1 shooter of brandy (2-4 oz)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ c cream
- ¼ c cream sherry
- ¼ t gelatin
- ¼ c pickled grapes

1. Pickled grapes if needed.

2. In a large saucepan, melt 4 T of butter on low heat. Add onions and garlic and saute on low for about 15 minutes, until the onions are soft and potent, a bit sweet too.

3. Increase the heat to medium and add the rosemary and liver. Grate the nutmeg on top. Continue to cook the livers, moving from time to time, until just cooked through (the pink show be faint).

4. Add the shooter of brandy, increase the heat to high, and tip the sauté pan so that the flames lap up the side. Careful, the brandy will ignite into a large flame, which is the desired effect. Allow the flames to settle and the livers to singe. Remove from heat. Allow to cool.

5. In a blender, beat the other 8 T of softened butter and cream. Add the liver mixture and puree until smooth. Taste. Swoon for a bit, and adjust the salt and pepper. Do a dance.

6. Pour the puree into a vessel, be it a small bowl or a wide and shallow pan. Cool.

7. When the pate is solidified a bit, bring the sherry and gelatin to a small boil to ensure full dissolution. Remove from fire and allow to cool. Pour on top of the pate or in a separate pan. As the gelee cools suspend the pickled grapes in various patterns of whimsy.

8. Refrigerate the gelee and the pate for 1-2 hours. When you want to eat, bring to room temperature and dig in!


pigpigscorner said...

I love pate but have never tried making some myself. Looks yummy!

Elra said...

I love liver pate, normally make this on jewish holidays. Yours look pretty sophisticated with addition of gelee. I like that!

cook eat FRET said...

that is amazing beautiful food
love this

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

I have to say I'm not a big liver fan, but I that really does look quite tasty. For me the trick is soaking the liver in a few changes of water to get some of the blood taste out.

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