Liver is a strange subject: either you love it or you don’t. I love it, my husband doesn’t. My parents love it, my siblings don’t. My 1-year-old daughter surprisingly loves it! (she’s always been an adventurous eater like her mom)
I remember the first time I ever ate liver was in 1995: a chicken liver starter on basmati rice at the legendary Rustic Café (now closed) in Stellenbosch. It was served in a rich, spicy gravy, and was so wonderfully comforting that I couldn’t get enough. I also loved the spicy chicken liver salad at Julian’s Coffee Shop (now called something else), back in the days when I was still waitressing there as a student. Wonderful pan-fried chicken livers in a spicy sauce served on fresh greens and tomatoes. I then tried to copy the sauce in my mom’s kitchen, using barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and lots of other household condiments, along with a touch of cream. It was marvellous.
Then I discovered the magic of liver pâté – my favourite being the wonderfully affordable chicken liver variety. So great for parties! I must mention though, that I once bought a glass jar of duck liver pâté from Cotage Fromage at Vrede en Lust Wine Estate in Simondium. It was the silkiest jar of buttery, sweet, rich pâté that I had ever tasted. I then learnt from the chef that liver pâté needs a LOT of butter to become really smooth and spreadable – up to 50% of the finished product! I don’t put that much butter in my chicken liver pâté, but don’t ever be afraid of adding more butter to yours!
This recipe contains all the great ingredients for a fabulous grown-up pâté: chicken livers, onions, garlic, butter, fresh thyme, cream and brandy. Use a stick blender or food processor to process it to a very smooth pulp, then refrigerate untill set. It is great on toasted ciabatta, and I can eat it morning, noon and night.
Tip: Don’t ever overcook the livers (for pâté) over too high heat – they shouldn’t brown, they should just change colour. Your finished pâté should still be a touch of pink!
Ingredients: (serves 6)
- 500 g chicken livers (rinse and pat dry)
- 90 g butter at room temperature
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 t chopped fresh thyme
- 80 ml (1/3 cup) brandy
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) cream
- salt and pepper
- In a large frying pan, melt half the butter over medium heat. Add onion & garlic and cook over low heat until soft and transparent but not brown.
- Add livers and thyme, then stir over moderate heat untill they change colour. Add brandy and simmer for 2 minutes on low heat. Remove from heat.
- Place livers and liquid in a food processor and process untill smooth. Add other half of butter (at room temperature) and cream, season with salt and pepper, and process until just incorporated.
- Spoon into a glass jar or porcelain dish, smoothing the surface. Cover and refrigerate untill firm. Serve with toasted bread.
PS: If you want to keep the pâté for more than a day, pour clarified butter over the surface, then cover and refrigerate.
Recipe, testing and preparation: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox
Photographed by Tasha Seccombe
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