This recipe is adapted from Leith’s Cookery Bible, the most-used book in my collection. I’ve been making it for several years now and I think I’ve got it pretty good. I differ from a lot of recipes in that I prefer the liver to be fairly well cooked because I just think it has a fuller flavour that way. I’ve prettied today’s version up by sticking some basil leaves in the ramekins. I haven’t done that before so maybe it’ll taste terrible, but I think it’ll be okay.
To make the amount shown above:
1 small onion, very finely sliced (shallots also work well – 3 or 4 of them)
1 large clove of garlic, bashed and chopped
250g chicken livers (I got mine from the farmers market and they’re richer than the supermarket versions)
2 tablespoons brandy
A good handful of parsley
salt and fresh pepper
Yes, it’s an awful lot of butter. But can you think of a dish that wasn’t improved by the addition of butter? I usually only make this starter for christmas or for guests that I like a lot. It’s rich, but it never fails to impress.
First, do your prep – chop the onions and garlic and wash the chicken livers. If there are any green bits, discard them.
Next you melt half the butter in a non-stick pan and then you slowly fry the onions until they’re translucent (but not brown, this is a recipe that does not benefit from the bitterness of browned onions). When they look like this:
You add the garlic. Fry for one minute more. Now add the chicken livers. If you’ve had the heat on low so you don’t burn the onions and garlic, turn it up now – they won’t burn now. Brown the chicken livers on all sides. I’ve read recipes that tell me this should take 3 minutes. I’ve found that to get them to my liking takes about 10 minutes. Call me a heathen, I think it tastes more mature this way. Add salt and pepper as you like.
Now comes the fun bit. Pour some brandy into a tablespoon and set it alight, either with a lighter or with the flame if you’re using a gas hob. Pour it over the livers. Do this again with another tablespoon. Cook for another couple of minutes to take the edge off the alcohol.
Once it’s all done to your liking, take them off the heat and let them cool a bit. Once they’re cool enough, pour them into the blender and add the rest of the butter and the parsley. Blend for a good two or three minutes to get it nice and smooth.
Depending on how you’re going to serve the pate, pour it into appropriate dishes. Today I used ramekins, usually I would use one big dish. Do let it cool before you eat it, the flavour gets more subtle as it cools. Serve wth big lumps of crusty bread.