For people who care about their food

Chicken or pork liver paté

Slices of French bread spread with pork liver paté on a wooden platter with a parsley garnishNigel Slater’s book Appetite, which was Number 7 in my Top Ten cookbooks of 2008, has a simple recipe for a smooth and creamy paté. He uses chicken livers in his but I prefer pork liver paté so I adapted his recipe and pretty much made it the same way.

Nigel Slater’s recipe for a smooth and creamy paté

(Enough for 6)

Ingredients

  • chicken livers – about 400g
  • milk – enough to soak the livers in
  • butter – 110g, plus 50g at the very end
  • whipping cream – 90ml
  • brandy

Method

Trim any dark or green bits from the livers, cover them with milk. This will rid them of any bitterness. Soften two-thirds of the butter, not so far as to melt it but just so it takes a finger easily. Melt the remaining third in a shallow pan. When it starts to foam, drop in the livers, drained of their milk. Take care – they will spit at you. Let them develop a pale golden crust on one side then turn them over and do the same on the other. It is essential that the butter is hot enough for this to take only a few minutes, otherwise the centre will not stay pink and the paté will lose its magic.

There’s no point in copying all his instructions from the book so let me talk you through the rest of the process as I made it, more or less following Nigel Slater’s method.


Chopped pork liver in a bowl on a meat chopping-boardFirst of all, here I am making chicken liver paté with pork liver, otherwise my ingredients are the same.

The first thing I do is to trim off any boingy bits and remove any traces of the gall bladder. Then I sliced the liver into sizes comparable with chicken livers, as you can see in the picture. Then I covered the liver with milk and let it soak for about half an hour.


Pieces of pork liver frying in a non-stick panNext melt the butter in a frying pan, drain the milk from the liver and, when the butter is very hot, pop the drained slices of liver in. Fry quickly to get a nice browned texture on both sides. Take care not to overcook it or the paté won’t have that lovely pinkness.

The next step is to put all the ingredients (the liver, butter, and cream plus salt and pepper for seasoning) into a food processor and blitz it to make it as smooth as you can. Pour a glug or two of brandy into the pan which you used to cook the liver, bring to the boil and let the brandy soak up all the meat juices remaining in the pan. Pour the brandy and juices from the pan into the liver mixture and blitz again.


Pieces of pork liver being squeezed through a steel wire sieve into a steel bowlNo matter how much you’ve blitzed the paté, there will still be some graininess, although it should still be pinkish.

You could stop there as you’ve already made the basic paté but in Nigel Slater’s words, “Now, using a rubber spatula, push the mixture through a stainless steel sieve into a bowl. I know this is deeply boring, and the sieve is yet another thing to wash up, but it really does make a crucial difference to the paté, turning the grainy and the mundane into the blissfully velvety.”


Pork liver residue in a sieve, with a large heap of pork liver paté in a bowl underneathAs you can see from the pictures, this process gives you a beautifully smooth and creamy paté, leaving the gunk behind in the sieve. It’s a rather tedious process but well worth it, so persevere!


Home-made pork liver paté in a ramekinNow put the paté into a suitable dish. I used a large ramekin. Smooth the top and put it in the fridge to set.

Next you’re supposed to faff about with clarified butter to top it. I do this sometimes just for the appearance of the paté but I’ve found that it’s not really necessary. Cover with clingfilm to stop any discolouration. Scoff it up within two or three days – if it lasts that long.

Appetite by Nigel Slater

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Paperback, 448 pages
2001, Fourth Estate

ISBN 1-84115-470-9
RRP: £20

 

23 Responses to “Chicken or pork liver paté”

  1. Claire

    I just tried this with pork liver, and I’m sorry to say it was not pleasant. The livery flavour was just too strong. Maybe half an hour’s soaking in milk isn’t long enough?

    Also (and this is entirely my fault) I got spattered with hot butter because I didn’t dry off the pieces of liver properly after draining them. Be warned!

  2. W.S.Bailey

    What is the purpose of commenting on a totally different recipe to the original – I made some rather poor bread the other day but I did not consider blaming it on this chicken liver pate.

  3. David Cookson

    Nearly fell off my chair reading the phrase ‘boingy bits’ – wonderful!

  4. L Gray

    I tried this recipe last week and it sold a treat at the local market. It is very rich for the liver taste but if you don’t like it you can adapt the recipe to suit. I will be adding possibly a little bit more brandy and cream to give it a bit more kick. Plus garlic and onion as requested from some clients.

    Easiest recipe I have managed to find for doing a smooth pate.

  5. Not Delia

    Thanks for your kind comment. Why not add more cream and brandy to it? Good idea. I’m always telling people to use their own ideas rather than to follow recipes!

    Go for it. And please do come back and tell us how you get on. Good luck at your local market. 🙂

  6. julie

    tried this recipe a coulpe of times. works well with brandy and port together. also a bit of mustard powder bit of mace and garlic. really smooth with cream in

  7. anna

    WOW! This is abs amazing, had a load of fresh pigs liver to use – and don’t like wasting what comes back when the pigs go to be ‘done’.. may try during the winter when we have a load of pheasants, and with the venison.. you have me hooked – Will deffo be on the menu for shoot dinners with some fresh bread.. mmmm :). Thankyou

  8. Not Delia

    Hi Anna

    Thanks for taking the time to let us know you liked the recipe. By the way, you don’t actually have to use fresh liver as you could freeze the liver first to store it for a while.

    Your mention of venison and pheasant has really got my imagination going. You could be making game pate in the same way. Oh wow! What could you do? Venison and port? I’ve never had pheasant so I’m not sure about that. But it doesn’t really seem to matter what liver you use, the method is exactly the same.

    Good luck!

  9. Gary

    Hi I am about to use some pigs liver my wife defrosted thinking it was veal, (Sunday dinner is now chicken breast !!) is it possible to make the pate and freeze it for later use ?

  10. Nicky

    Hey there! I finally found your recipe for liver pâté that resembles what I’m looking for. This is however only the second time I’ve worked with liver and I was wondering if I have to wash the pork liver at any stage?

    I made liver with onion and bacon gravy the other day, and I noticed the liver losing a lot of blood after washing it. So I’m curious if I should wash the liver before soaking it in milk, or afterwards, or not at all?

    Thanks in advance!

  11. Not Delia

    Hi Nicky,

    Thanks for joining in.

    Disclaimer: I’m not a health professional (although I am a qualified chef) so can’t advise on any health issues, only describe how I cook.

    I have never washed any liver prior to cooking, although if it was a bit wet, I would wipe it dry prior to cutting – only to make it easier and cleaner to cut. As I understand it, most germs lurk on the outside of meat (unless the meat itself is contaminated in some way, eg by growth of bacteria because of being left in the temperature “danger zone” ). The heat applied in the cooking process will kill these germs, so washing is unnecessary – same as fish. It spoils the meat.

    (Contamination by other means is a completely different subject. I can do a blog posting on that if there’s anything specific you want to ask me.)

    I would wipe the liver with a paper towel, or similar. Then cut it. Then soak it in milk. Then wipe it again so it doesn’t spit too much when it hits the hot oil.

    Be prepared to experiment and learn. Have you seen my first attempt at foie gras? I made a right mess of it but managed to rescue it. Someone was disgusted that I didn’t do it perfectly first time. But, hey, we’re all human and I’m not so keen to see where a food blogger is always perfect. It’s just not reality. We all get into difficulties and can learn by seeing mistakes that have been made, even by experienced cooks.
    http://www.notdelia.co.uk/pate-de-foie-gras/

    No doubt some people will disagree, and it’s good to have discussions, but I wouldn’t wash the liver prior to cooking it.

    Food hygiene isn’t really very complicated when you know how. I wrote a book on the subject. It’s for sale on Amazon, but I’ll let you have it for free it you’d like it.
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/wash-your-hands-avoid-poisoning-ebook/dp/B00F0NS8LA/

    Hope this helps.

  12. Ruth Minter

    Great recipe. I also use this to hide the dogs’ medicines in! They think it’s great. We produce our own pork so always have lots of pig liver. Making my own pate saves a fortune.

  13. Not Delia

    Hi Ruth,

    Many thanks for your comment. I’m afraid I’ve neglected my blog recently as we’re house hunting and very busy. I’ll get back to it soon in our new house and I hope to have a kitchen designed to suit Not Delia!

    Producing your own pork sounds interesting! Care to share any more details? If you have a farm shop or similar anywhere near us (Greater London/Surrey/Kent, we’ll come along to buy. Or maybe even see you at a farmers’ market.

    Thanks,

    Kay

  14. Les Pearce

    Well, I set out to try this recipe. Went down to my local store for some liver only to find that they had no pigs liver and no chickens livers. All they had was lamb livers. Time was short so I thought ‘ in for a penny’, bit the bullet and gave it a try. To the above recipe ( with the substitution of lamb’s liver), I added half a tsp of garlic powder and half a tsp of powdered ginger (after the cooking). The only brandy I had in the house was Bulgarian plum brandy so I used a generous sploosh of that. I have to say that the end result is very nice indeed.

  15. Not Delia

    Fantastic! Thanks for your comment, Les.

    I love to see how everyone is adapting the recipe to suit their own tastes and resources. It started off as a chicken liver pate, but I used pork, and now you’ve used lamb!

    Hey, recipes are only ideas. I must admit I’ve never had lambs liver pate nor Bulgarian plum brandy but I’d certainly give it a try! (If you’re offering.) 😉

    I’m afraid I’ve been neglecting my blog again – this time it’s because of a broken hip. (I’ll be better soon.) Your comment has really cheered me up on Christmas Eve. Thank you!

  16. Mark Cottington

    Good afternoon
    I have just stumbled on your blog, we also breed our own pigs and have thought about making liver pate rather than wasting it, I notice on a previous thread (Nov. 2013) that someone had defrosted the liver and in your comment you replied “You can freeze the Pate” can you still do this if it has previously been frozen, that would be great if you could because we have a load in our freezer. Kind reagrds

    Mark

  17. Not Delia

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for your question. I have made the pate from frozen liver and subsequently frozen the pate, on the basis that the meat was cooked between the two freezing processes. However, this was a personal choice and possibly not one that would meet with current government advice.

    That said, as the liver is intended to be cooked pink, some people might not consider the meat to be fully cooked and therefore there could be a risk involved in refreezing. One person told me they’d cooked the livers fully so there was no risk there and whilst the pate lost the attractive colour, the taste was unchanged.

    In summary, for personal use, it’s up to you to assess the “risk” you’re willing to take. I’ve done it without harm. I often think that government advice about food preparation is for the lowest common denominator or people who have no confidence about food preparation.

    If you’re planning to make the pate for sale, eg for a farmers’ market, you’d need to do more research about current guidelines and requirements (I’m not currently up to date) before selling to the general public.

    Good luck with it and I hope you’re pleased with the result. Do let us know how you get on!

    Kay

  18. Wendy

    Hi there,
    I always make chicken liver pate but my food shopping is coming soon and I noticed that there isn’t any chicken livers left so it looks like they are sending pigs livers so I was really pleased to find this recipe. I have never used cream (and I haven’t ordered any either) but I do sometimes add a little mayonnaise to the patè after blending which is delicious. I also have never soaked the livers in milk before, is there any particular reason for this and will it taste very different? I do use brandy though and garlic and mushroom too. It is usually wonderful so fingers crossed.

  19. Not Delia

    Hi Wendy,

    Thanks for writing. According to Nigel Slater, who wrote the original recipe for chicken livers, soaking them in milk is to reduce the bitterness. I suppose I just did that without thinking. I’ve really no idea if doing it actually has any benefit. It could just be one of these old-wives-tales, and people still do it because that’s how it’s always been done.

    Again, I’ve never tried adding mayo rather than cream, but if you’ve had success with that before, then why not? I wonder if it would still be freezable, though. In cases like this, I would try freezing a small amount just to test it – and then I’d know for future attempts.

    I’m always glad when people adapt things to suit themselves. I’m also not the type of person to follow recipes rigidly. I much prefer to adapt them according to my tastes and what I have available.

    Good luck! I hope you come back and tell us how you get on!

  20. Wendy

    Well, my shopping has arrived and they have sent lamb livers so fingers crossed 🤞

  21. Not Delia

    As you can see above, Les Pearce had a similar situation earlier. On Christmas Eve! He had success using lamb livers for the recipe.

    I must have a word with the game merchant at our local farmers’ market and see if he can come up with some more unusual livers. The last thing I bought from him was grey squirrel. I wonder what they do with the squirrel livers.

    Fingers crossed for you!

    Kay

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