Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sofia's spiced riesling liver pate

This recipe came together through a lot of experimenting. After reading about 10 liver pate recipes I took the bits that sounded most interesting and had a go. I must admit I had to test it out twice before getting the final pate just right.

If you're in Hong Kong, buying chicken livers is a real mission. You'd think they'd be readily available at any wet market. After going to a couple of chicken stalls and asking for "gaai gon" I eventually got lucky with about 100grams of livers for HK$10. Unfortunately these were mixed with other innards - heart, anyone? In the end I went to City Super where you can buy 100grams for HK$17. They are imported from France, and look as clean as liver can.

Below is a summary of what I did. I'd recommend you have a play around with the ingredients as you go along, try different types of alcohol, different herbs, and spices! - good luck

You will need:

1 Kilogram of chicken livers - enough for 2 big bowls of pate
1 Liter of milk
2 Glasses of riesling - I used a lovely riesling from Alsace
A dash of port wine
2 Red onions chopped fine
2 Cloves of garlic chopped fine
1 Bunch of fresh thyme
1 Block of butter
3 Bay leaves
3 Cloves
Mustard - I used dijon
Dry sage
Maldon salt

This is what I did:
Soak your chicken livers in the milk for about 24 hours. Make sure that you cover them. This does 2 things. It tenderises the livers and it also helps remove toxins. When you're ready to get cooking, take the livers out of the milk and pat dry. Cut out any grizzly looking bits.

Gently heat the wine in a saucepan with the cloves and bay leaves. Let it simmer until the wine reduces by to about a third of it's original quantity. Add a dash of port into this mixture too if you fancy. When the mixture has reduced nicely turn off the heat.

Melt about 3 tablespoons of butter over a low heat.
Fry up the onions and garlic until soft.
Add the chicken livers and a lot of salt and pepper and about 3 tablespoons of the fresh thyme leaves. Sprinkle generously with some dry sage.
Cook gently until the chicken livers are soft and tender and still red inside. You do not want to overcook them otherwise they go hard and grey and lose their colour and flavour.

Just before they are cooked add the wine mixture (remove the cloves and bay leaves) and give it a good couple of stirs.

Turn the heat off.

Now cut about half the block of butter up into chunks.
Put the liver mixture and the butter into a bowl. Be careful about how much liquid goes in. I drained some of the liquid off, but left some of it in. You just need to use your eye for this - you don't want it too soupy.
Season again with salt and pepper and add in about 2 - 3 tablespoons of mustard. You want to over season it because when it sets it loses flavour.

Using a hand blender, blend the mixture. You can go as chunky or smooth as you like. You can also add in a bit of cream to this mixture for more richness.

When your mixture is nice and smooth, then pour into a ramekin or a nice bowl.
Put to one side.

Melt the remaining butter in a saucepan. As it comes to boil scoop off the foam that rises to the top so that you get clarified butter. Now pour this on top of your pate.
Let this cool for about 10 minutes and then pop into the fridge.

You can add some thyme leaves to the clarified butter to give it some flavour if you like. This layer will set on top of the pate and keep it fresher for longer. You can keep this in the fridge for about 1 week. If you "open" the seal then use within 3 days. You can also freeze the pate in the fridge for about 1 month.

To serve you can throw some pickles, or caramalised onion onto a board, along with some olives and fresh leaves. Serve on chargrilled gingerbread (see our recipe) for a bit of decadence, or on crusty bread.

Enjoy with a glass of reisling or ice wine.

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