Saturday, December 22, 2012

Weekend Cooking...Pate Maison

OK, this one will have the vegans and vegetarians around here running.
Today I am making Pate Maison...or Chicken Liver Pate.
I will admit, I am not a fan of liver per se.
In fact, I have never eaten plain liver, liver and onions and such.

I blame it on an early childhood experience. I was just a wee Caite, staying at my grandparents apartment in Atlantic City. My dear grandfather, jokester that he was, gave wee Caite a bit of liver (he was a fan) and told the sweet child that it was steak.
I took one bite, spit it out, threw it at him and yelled "Bad steak!!"

Or so I am told.

Still, I do like chicken liver pate.
And it is so reasonable priced to make. Look at that. Less than a dollar for a pound of livers, twice what I need!
There used to be a store nearby that sold a very nice one, but while the store is there, no lovely pate anymore.

But years ago, I was in Ireland, at my cousin Anne's house in Dublin having dinner and as an appetizer she served a homemade Pate Maison. Excellent!

Or so I was told.

See, her husband Pat took it upon himself to educate me in the venerable beverage of Port...he had a large number of bottles on hand...and the whole evening is just a little blurry in my mind. But I did get the recipe.
And it is here...somewhere...I think.

OK, I lost it.

So, I went on line and found this one, which is now my go-to recipe. It is from Ballymaloe House, a lovely country house hotel and restaurant in the southwest of Ireland. Ballymaloe is the home of Myrtle Allen, the author of a number of cookbooks and her daughter in law Darina Allen, also the author of many cookbooks and sort of the cooking Martha Stewart of Irish food

Ballymaloe Chicken Liver Pate 
Serves 10-12 depending on how it is served.

This recipe has certainly stood the test of time; it has been our pâté maison at Ballymaloe since the opening of the restaurant in 1965.  It is served in many different ways: its success depends upon being generous with good Irish butter.
  • 225g (8oz) fresh organic chicken livers
  • 1 large clove garlic,crushed 
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons sherry or brandy 
  • 200-300g (8-10 oz) butter (depending on how strong the chicken livers are) 
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves 
  • freshly ground pepper 
  • clarified butter to seal the top

Wash the livers and remove any membrane or green tinged bits. Melt a little butter in a frying pan; when the butter foams, add in the onions and arlic and cook a minute, then add in the livers and cook over a gentle heat about 3-4 minutes.  Be careful not to overcook them or the outsides will get crusty; all trace of pink should be gone.   Put the livers through a sieve or into a food processor.  De-glaze the pan with brandy, allow to flame, add the crushed garlic and thyme leaves and then scrape off with a spatula and add to the livers.  Puree for a few seconds.  Allow to cool.
Add 225g (8oz) butter and fresh thyme leaves. Puree until smooth.  Season carefully, taste and add more butter, cut into cubes if necessary.

This pate should taste fairly mild and be quite smooth in texture. Put into pots or into one large terrine. Knock out any air bubbles.
Clarify some butter and run a little over the top of the pate to seal.
Serve with hot toast or crusty bread.   This pate will keep for 4 or 5 days in a refrigerator. It is essential to cover chicken liver pate with a layer of clarified or even just melted butter, otherwise the pate will oxidize and become bitter in taste and grey in colour.

Grey food, not so good. No.
Now, as usual, my changes.
I did not have the Irish butter, although we can get it in the supermarkets here, so I use regular butter. And I used less butter than she did, more like 6 Tbs. But that is a matter of taste. I was also not going to clarify any butter, so again I just used regular melted butter.
I added the onions. And 2 cloves of garlic instead of her one.
And I add sherry, instead of the brandy she uses. I personally like the little sweetness the sweet sherry adds.
Perhaps not to everyone taste, but me and mine , or at least me and my sister-in-law, will be enjoying it this holiday season!

This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


  1. I haven't had pate in a long time, yours looks terrific. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I adore chopped liver (yes, we didn't have a fancy name for it). One or the other of my grandmothers would make it every week for Sunday brunch. Ours was different: you have to have schmaltz, sauteed onions, and no booze. I could eat a pint of it in one sitting. LOVE is not a strong enough word.

    1. Oh my heavens, I forgot to add the onions to the recipe. I always add them but the original recipe did not!
      I would go for the schmaltz if I had it but butter is the best most of us can do. and I do think the sherry is excellent in it.
      and with it...a glass full.

  3. I have never been a fan of liver, but my husband is. He even likes liver sausage. Although, I should give it a try again. It seems that my tastes have changed as I've gotten older. Things that I couldn't stand most of my life not only tolerable, but liked, now. Happy Holidays!

  4. I must have been a weird kid, I liked liver! Don't eat it now but I liked it when my mother cooked it with onions and bacon.

    1. I will let the 'weird' remark the Christmas Spirit.

  5. I love liver, but never had liver pate.

  6. Lovely I have never made my own! Happy happy Holidays to you and yours!

  7. I'm a big fan of liver, yet I've never tried liver pate. Thank you for sharing this.

  8. I'm not sure I've had pate, but this looks like a great celebratory dish. I love how authentically Irish it is. While I didn't have pate in Ireland, I did have Irish butter and they really know how to do that right!

  9. I had a big plate of liver when I was in Bern a few years ago. I too thought I was ordering steak - I pointed at the plate of a man sitting near me and said I wanted what he was having. It smelled so good; I thought it was beef stew. Once I got over the shock of having ordered liver, I quite enjoyed it.


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