Paté is one of those dishes that people assume is difficult to make, exotic to taste, expensive to buy and luxurious to afford. But it doesn’t have to be! With a little work and the right tools (a smoker and a food processor), you can make a delicious paté for a great price.
I am lucky enough to have scored an invitation to a lovely Thanksgiving dinner, and since my help was not needed for making the turkey (although I make a nice juicy bird, if I do say so myself) or any other cornerstones of the holiday meal, I volunteered to make a cheese plate for an appetizer, including fancy cheese, cold cuts, homemade paté and sweet pickles. The cheese was storebought, but even the homemade parts of this plate were awfully easy to make.
For the pickles, I used this basic pickling spice and recipe, only obviously I used a variety of fresh veggies, and I also added a little star anise and clove for a little sweetness.
The paté was very easy to make – although nothing is as easy as making refrigerator pickles:
Smoked Chicken Liver Paté
- about 2 lbs. of chicken livers, trimmed
- 1 small onion
- 2 cloves fresh or roasted garlic
- 1 cup white wine
- 3 tbsp. butter
- fresh herbs (I used rosemary)
- Worchestershire sauce
- salt and pepper
I got two pounds of chicken livers (they’re so cheap, just over $1 each) and seasoned them with Worchestershire sauce and some seasoned salt and pepper. Keep in mind that this recipe works just as well with any type of liver — even the one from your Thanksgiving turkey.
I put the livers on my smoker, and I used wood chips made from the oak barrels they use for aging Tabasco sauce. It added a lovely-scented smoke to the livers (although feel free to use your favorite type of wood chips and your own favorite seasoning). You may also want to smoke some garlic at the same time, or roast it in your oven, just to kick it up another notch.
After smoking for about an hour at 200 degrees, the livers should be no longer pink (although a tiny bit of pink is OK). Make sure they cool completely — you can even do the smoking a day or two before.
First, chop the garlic and onion as finely as possible (not necessary if you have roasted or smoked the garlic), or grate them into the food processor. Then blend them in the food processor with the fresh herbs and 3 tbsp. butter. Pulse the mixture a few times to make sure the onion and garlic is as paste-like as possible — no one wants a big chunk of fresh garlic in their paté! Add the livers and pulse the mixture a few times to get the livers broken down as well, then slowly pour the cup of white wine into the food processor until the mixture is your desired consistency (you may not need it all).
I like my paté a little on the thin side, just thick enough that it will hold to a piece of bread or a cracker. Add salt and pepper to taste.
I served this as part of an epic Thanksgiving cheese plate with those pickles, lots of delicious cheeses and cold cuts — if you’re in southern California check out my friends at Venissimo Cheese. Then, for dessert I cooked a wheel of brie on a cedar plank with roasted cherry/jalapeno jam. This is the “before” photo — and there isn’t an “after” photo because it pretty much disappeared within a few minutes.