Sunday, January 2, 2011

Chicken Liver and Mushroom Pate

I am absolutely obsessed with charcuterie.  Almost down to being ashamed of loving some of the things that I love, most of which make an average person cringe.  But I can't even begin to care.  At least not anymore.  For years I have kept my love of beef tongue, head cheese, chicken liver pate, rillette, terrines, etc. secret.  I'd buy the best imported pates, spreads, and cured meats that I could get my hands on only when no one else was at the deli counter, as I would cautiously look around me, clutching the shopping basket already containing a baguette, french mustard, a bottle of wine, and some pickles and olives.  This was almost exclusively done after a long work day, perfectly timing the visit to the store around 7:45 when everyone else has already done their dinner shopping.  But having exhausted the flavors and varieties in the 10 mile radius, I have finally decided to attempt to make my own.  Having purchased Cured: Slow techniques for flavoring meat, fish, and vegetables by Lindy Wildsmith, I felt inspired and decided to venture into the world of charcuterie myself.  This is the first trip - and I am sure not the last.
 Mushroom and Chicken Liver Pate
1lb mushrooms (not white button)
1.5 lbs of chicken livers
1 large onion
3 garlic cloves
10+ sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup dry vermouth
salt / pepper / olive oil / flavored oil (mushroom)
1 stick of butter
clarified butter

Saute onions and garlic with about 5 sprigs of chopped thyme in a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  
When translucent, add chopped mushrooms.  Saute until mushrooms are completely cooked and have browned lightly, adding a bit more olive oil if needed. 
Deglaze the pan with vermouth, scraping up the bits at the bottom.  Add the chicken livers, season heavily with salt and pepper.  Continue to saute until just pink on the inside, about 10 minutes depending on the chicken liver size.  Do not overcook. 
Puree in a food processor.  While the processor is running, add 1 stick of butter, cut into small cubes.  Taste and reseason with salt, pepper, and couple of tablespoons of flavored olive oil.  Divide among containers or jars.  Refrigerate until set - about 2 hours.  Remove from the refrigerator and top with about a half an inch of clarified butter.  Chill until ready to use - at least 6 hours. 

To serve
Olive oil
Arugla leaves / pea shoots / etc.
Salt / pepper

Cut baguette into slices, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.  Grill or toast in a pan over medium high heat on both sides.  Spoon pate on the toasts and top with cornichons or greens. 

Clarified butter
1 lb butter

Melt butter over very low heat until milk solids separate from the butter - about half an hour.

Carefully pour off the clear top layer, and discard the rest.  At this point, I reheated the clarified butter and added a few sprigs of thyme to infuse. 


  1. Heck yea-I think more women need to admit their love of chicken livers and head cheese. Really great photos. I've been planning to buy a meat grinder so I could start making my own charcuterie and whatnot, but this recipe only requires a food processor, which I have!

  2. I agree! Thanks for the comment :)

  3. Well, I'm still creeped by the internal delicacies you so desire, but the writing style on this one was fantastic. Beautifully done, Bella.

  4. I love this post beyond words. This is cooking at it's best, wonderful job!

  5. Ann, wonderful post, very interesting. Do you do you own photography? It's wonderful, wonderful colors, dramatic depth of feel, I love it. Do you mind me asking how you do it? What do you use?

  6. Thank you! Yes, I do my own photography. Except the "about me" photo and the banner photo, those were done by an incredily talented friend, you can find her info below.

    My Equipment: Canon Rebel T1i, kit lens (Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6)
    Post-Processing if needed: Lightroom, Photoshop (depends on shooting lighting conditions, white balance, cropping, etc).

    Portrature: Rebecca Behm (FB /, she does phenomenal work and is a good friend.