The first time I ate chicken liver pâté I wrinkled my nose. I had never tried anything like it and nor was I particularly interested in trying it again. Confused by the richness, the meatiness, the savoury smoothness, my taste buds could hardly keep up with my brain, completely overwhelmed. But, to be fair to myself, I was about six at the time.
Now I fall upon chicken liver pâté; given the opportunity I could eat it by the bucket load. It’s great for summertime picnics (just decant it into a Kilner or Wecks jar), or as a festive starter, or anytime of year really. —Mil Hare
First off prep the livers. If buying fresh from a butcher you can get them to do this for you, but if you’re buying them frozen or from a supermarket you’ll need to get stuck in. The aim here is to remove any sinewy bits of membrane so that you have a smooth as possible pâté.
Heat 1/3 of the butter in a pan with a little olive oil, say a teaspoon, over a medium heat. The oil helps to stop the butter from burning.
Once melted, add the onions and sauté until soft, then stir in the garlic and bay leaf.
Distribute the livers evenly throughout the pan, cooking for around 2 minutes on each side. Halfway through pour in the masala, if you’re using it. Adding the masala will add a sweet richness to the pâté, bringing out the nuttiness of the livers, which is delicious, but if you don’t have it to hand or don’t want to buy masala or brandy or similar for one recipe then I understand. Don’t bother – it’s your pâté.
When the livers are cooked they ought to feel tender, with only some resistance if you prod them, and are still slightly pink on the inside. The main peril of overcooking your livers at this stage is creating a grainy pâté that will begin to resemble brick mortar if you’re not careful.
Allow everything to cool down for a bit. Read a book, do the washing up, flick through the dismal tragedies in the headlines.
Then remove the bay leaf and discard, before blitzing everything in a food processor or blender. Try and get all of the residual butter and scrapey bits from the bottom of the pan and then add the remaining butter, keeping a little additional butter to melt and drizzle on top, if you fancy it.
Once smooth season to taste and give it a final blitz before pouring into a dish, or dishes if you want individual ramekins for a dinner party. If you want it super-smooth this would also be the point to sieve it, although personally, I can’t be arsed.
Once cool, although you needn’t wait til completely set, melt the final lump of butter with a little seasoning and top your vessel(s) of choice, adding a bay leaf as a hint of the deliciousness within.