So, last week was our friend's 30th birthday, we'll call him Big n Smart. He's one of those all looks and all brains people. Anyway, his wife organized a surprise birthday party at their house for him. He works at Wine Steals, they have cool friends who are around their age. So I wanted to bring some good "mature" party food. And I didn't really have money cause I was waiting for that paycheck on Monday morning. What else says tasty grown up party food more than pate? So I decided to make my chicken liver pate, which happens to be pretty economical to make as well.
The funny thing is, that I decided I would just say I made pate, and not say it was chicken liver unless someone specifically asked. Becaue even mature grown ups may have a preconceived notion about chicken livers and not try it before they decide whether they like it. And I assume that Big n Smart's friends are probably more foodies than a lot of other people in San Diego, but I've come across a lot of worldly, well travelled people here (some are not american citizens) who are not as gastronomically adventurous as our friends from New Orleans.
Now on saying that, I hate the taste of chicken livers. It tastes...livery...bitter...livery. I'm not even joking. But, this recipe is so good, that if you don't really analyze the taste, you might not know that it's got chicken liver in it. And I have to say, it is pretty damn fucking delicious. Not to toot my own sax, but this isn't exactly my original recipe anyway. So I kinda got this recipe from my first boss at Vega. It might be a little different then hers, because when I made it later at the Delachaise, I couldn't really remember how she made it so I just threw together things I thought would taste good.
So last night Mr. Genuinely Interested In You finally introduced his girlfriend to us. Hopefully we didn't embarrass him. I think it's funny because we probably did try to be on our, well, not best behavior, but we didn't let it all hang out. Anyway, his girlfriend, we'll call her Valley Girl, started talking about pate. So I said I'd give her the recipe. So I guess I'll figure it out here. So if you ever need to impress people, make it. When they ask what it is, say very nonchalantly, oh, it's just a little pate that I whipped up really fast. And you won't be kidding, but they will think you're being modest.
The Food Ho's Fancy Shmanchy Chicken Liver Pate
1 tub o chicken livers
4 oz milk
1 onion, diced
1 carton mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper, obviously
a handful of fresh herbs - flat leaf parsley, oregano or green onion, maybe a pinch of thyme - but not rosemary, please, I beg you!
4 oz liquor, brandy, cognac, sherry, rum - preferrably not tequila, vodka or gin, but just get a fifth and use 4-6 oz for the pate and drink the rest or pour it down the sink or something
1 lb cream cheese, leave it out so that it gets room temperature
4-8 oz unsalted butter, leave this out so that it gets room temperature too - unless the room is really hot, then maybe you want it to only get to about 70 degrees, and if the room is cold, then you might have to leave it kinda near the stove.
small loaf pan
So here is the gross part. You have to take the chicken livers out, and cut all the fat connective tissue away. The livers are red and bloody, so rinse them out. Then get them on your cutting board, and cut the fatty white-yellow parts away. Be as thorough as possible. Then rinse them again, and put them in a container covered with milk. If you have time, do this a few hours before, or even overnight. If not, it's not too big of a deal. It's just that milk draws out that bitter minerally liver flavor out of the livers somewhat.
So then when you're ready to make the pate, take the livers out of the milk, and rinse them and get them as dry as you can.
Saute the onion in a big pat of butter. When they get translucent, add the mushrooms. When the mushrooms start to pick up a little color and you can smell them, then add the livers and salt and pepper. Make sure your pan is pretty hot. Slide those livers around in the pan, let them pick up color, then lower the temperature. Let them slowly cook. It will probably take a good ten minutes. Make sure they're firm, and, you know, cooked. It's not foie gras, so you want them cooked through. Then add your big splash of liquor in the pan. Let it absorb into the food, about 2 minutes. Then toss the herbs around in the pan. Your kitchen should smell pretty damn good about now. If there's anyone in the house, they'll probably come into the kitchen and say, what's cooking good lookin, or what are you cooking it smells great!
So then, you take your good old food processor, and you put all this sauteed goodness into that baby and start er up. Let it get all chopped up to this brown paste. Then chop up your cream cheese and slowly add it in. You probably want to add more salt and pepper. Then chop up the butter and add it last. If you want it more soft, add less butter. If you want it a little firmer, add more butter. Make sure it's all smooth and consistent. Then line the loaf pan with plastic wrap and take your spatula and pack it down into the pan. Or, if you want, you can line individual little ramekins or bowls and put it in those if you want more personalized servings. Even it out as much as possible. Then weigh it down with something like cans of veggies. Don't use cans of fruit cocktail, because that's just wrong and you shouldn't have something like that in your house! And of course if you are making ramekins, you need something smaller that fits into the opening. So then you refrigerate it. If you can, it's best to refrigerate it overnight. If you don't have time, a few hours is probably acceptable. If you really don't have any time, stick it in the freezer. Then when you unmold it, garnish it all fancy. Then when you put it out, say, oh, it's just a little simple pate I made really fast.