The first pâté I ever loved was given to me one Christmas Eve by my friend’s mum, the same woman who also introduced me to the joy of really buttery, salty, decadent scrambled eggs years earlier in a mobile home in Wexford. After returning from the shed, where the pâté for that Christmas was being stored, she quickly wished me a happy Christmas & had slipped a tin-foil wrapped bowl into my hand before I could tell her that I didn’t really eat pâté; that I wasn’t mad on the taste, the texture, the ingredients in it – the things that all young teenage girls say.
And I didn’t really until then: I’d always been scared off by the flavour of the liver at the end. But this one was smooth, garlicky, creamy and everything a pâté should be – carefully made, generously offered and enjoyed in that frame of mind; an inherently stylish & celebratory treat given from one house to another at Christmas. My brothers and I ate most of it that afternoon and I’ve been on the hunt for a pâté I like as much ever since.
The below recipe, adapted from a recipe by Guardian columnist Felicity Cloake comes close. Make up a batch for serving to your nearest & dearest over the break, or triple the quantities to surprise & delight your friends, family, co-workers & neighbours with their own little unexpected jar.
It’s very easy to make and is so mild that it’s almost an ‘introductory’ version of the classic for people who say they don’t like pâté, so it will be very well received by all comers except young teenage girls who don’t know any better, and even they might like it if they would only give it a chance!
Happy Christmas to you & your family
May your days be merry & bright
HOMEMADE CHICKEN LIVER PÂTÉ
I’ve made mine with brandy, because although Cloake warns that it doesn’t impart the pâté with much boozy flavour (she’s right), it smells beautifully Christmassy to me so I couldn’t bring myself to use her suggested Madeira. I also flavoured mine with juniper berries, which worked really well, so I wonder if gin might work instead – if you try it, report back & let me know how it tastes. Enjoy!
Makes two small bowls
350g chicken livers, chopped into 1.5cm pieces
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled & diced
175g butter, at room temperature
1 shallot, peeled & diced
75ml brandy (or gin if you fancy doing the experiment)
70 ml cream
10 juniper berries
Tiny pinch of ground cloves
1 tsp thyme leaves
Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan and fry the shallot & garlic along with the thyme leaves over a medium heat until soft. Add the livers & fry until browned all over, but still slightly pink in the middle. Season with black pepper & the ground cloves. Smash a couple of the juniper berries and add these too. Transfer to a food processor or large bowl for hand blending.
Pour the brandy into the frying pan, turn up the heat, and simmer until the liquid has reduced to the quantity of around 1 tablespoon. Transfer to the bowl along with the cream & 100g of the butter and blend.
Pass it through a sieve (don’t skip this step), transfer to your serving dishes and chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.To seal the pâté, heat the remaining butter over a low heat until melted & it has separated slightly. Skim out the dairy solids and discard (I skipped this as I was in a bit of a hurry, but it was a mistake as you can see from the images). Spoon over the pâté, dot with the remaining juniper berries, add the sage leaves and return to the fridge to set. Serve with warm toasts & some redcurrant jelly.