Chicken Liver Pâté


This is one of mankind’s all-time great hors d’oeuvres.  No.  I am not over-selling it.

To much of the world, There is nothing fancy about eating chicken livers. But some how the French managed to elevate it (as they do with most mundane things—bread, underwear, smoking, words). Spread this on a thin slice of baguette or toasted rye, c’est manifique.


½ pound chicken livers, well cleaned

2 shallots, chopped

3-4 sprigs fresh thyme

½ teaspoon unrefined sea salt – try a sel gris, fleur de sel, Piran, Japanese shio, Maldon, or a smoked salt

¼ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper

½ cup white wine

1 teaspoon cognac or brandy

6 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon powdered gelatin

¾ cup port wine or dry sherry


  1. Combine livers, shallots, 1 sprig of thyme, salt, pepper and wine in a small saucepan.   Bring to a simmer and cook, for 3 minutes, until the livers are set and barely pink on the inside. Cover and set aside for 5 minutes.
  1. Drain the liquid off the cooled livers, remove thyme sprig, and transfer solids to food processor. Add cognac and puree until smooth. Slowly add 6 ounces of butter, a tablespoon at a time, as the processor spins; this emulsifies and enriches the pate.

Transfer to serving terrine, then spread and tap the top to smooth it.   Set aside in the refrigerator.

  1. Pour the water in a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin on top. Set aside until the gelatin softens and absorbs the water, about 5 minutes. Bring the port and remaining thyme to a simmer. Add the gelatin and stir until it dissolves, then pour through a fine mesh strainer onto the top of your pate. Chill until set, at least an hour. Serve with crackers, bread, cornichons, assorted pickles, onion marmalade, fresh sliced radishes, and an assortment of cheese, fruits, and nuts.  You’re about to become the entertainer of the year!


Jelly-free – If you are freaked out by gelatin, you can finish your paté with melted butter. there is an alternative. You can melt additional butter and pour into a very thin layer on top of the chilled paté. Before the butter sets, sprinkle the top with a solid layer of finely chopped parsley. Refrigerate until set, at least an hour. This can be done a day or two ahead—in fact it’s better that way, as the flavors improve as it sits.


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