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Liver Pate

I have two good reasons to have homemade liver pate. The first is that many store bought pates are not halal (but yes, this recipe has optional wine in it, go figure), which makes it difficult for my family to eat. The second is that however we look at it, pate that's been stored in a chiller for up to a month or more, loaded with preservatives, just doesn't skim the bare minimum of flavour that comes from freshly made pate. When made well and stored properly, homemade pate can last up to about 2 weeks in the fridge too. It's absolutely essential that the chicken livers used for this recipe are purchased as fresh as possible, and cleaned just as thoroughly. However well-meaning your supermarket is, please go to a reputable butcher for the livers, because you just never know where the market stuff's been.

You'll also notice that this authentic recipe stolen from my mother uses Chinese glutinous rice wine to flavour and boil the livers. The specific wine being used, Hua Chiew, has this gorgeous rice wine perfume, slightly floral, very sweet and heady. This is the wine of choice used in virtually any dish requiring wine in my house. One can just as easily substitute this with any other sort of wine or water, though I seriously would not recommend boiling the livers in animal broth, as this dish has to be preserved in the fridge for a fairly long time. It's further possible to influence the flavour of the livers by infusing aromatics and flavourings into the liquid you're boiling the livers in.

500g fresh chicken livers (cleaned and de-veined)
2-3 cups Hua Chiew (or any good cooking wine)*
250ml sour cream
bay leaves (one leaf per storage container)
extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

1. Boil up the livers in the wine, salt and pepper until the meat is thoroughly cooked. You might want to season the livers a little more than you would usually do for the table. Remember that this will be blended with cream later, so some of the salt will be lost.

2. Drain and cool the livers. Don't dump the boiling liquid -- it makes an awesome stock.

3. Blend the livers in a food processor to a pasty consistency. Set aside.

4. Using a metal sieve, strain the liver paste to remove unprocessed pieces of meat and grit.

5. Return the paste to the food processor. Blend in with the sour cream until thoroughly mixed. Set aside.

6. To store the pate, you'll need heat-proof porcelain or glass containers and a steamer/wok with a steaming rack. First, you'll want to sterilize the containers by immersing them in rapidly boiling water. Dry the containers thoroughly.

7. Divide your pate among the containers. Leave about 1-2cm of room from the top of the pate to the rim of the container. Add a bay leaf on top of each mound of pate.**

8. Heat up the steamer to boiling point. Add in your containers and allow to steam until the pate has just firmed -- the consistency should be somewhat spongy and spreadable, like firm tofu.

9. Preheat an oven to 120C.

10. While waiting for the oven, lightly glaze the top of each pate mound with olive oil. Make sure any spaces where air pockets might develop is covered in oil.

11. Pop the containers into the oven for 5 minutes, or until the top of the pate begins to dry. Watch the oven very carefully as this process is pretty fast, and will depend on the power of your oven.

12. Cool the containers on baking racks to room temperature. Cover tightly with plastic wrap or lid (if applicable). Make absolutely sure there the containers are not warm enough to form water vapour on the plastic wrap before storing the pate in the fridge.

13. Pate is best eaten chilled. If the pate turns out slightly hard fresh out of the fridge, leave it to soften at room temperature. Do not reheat the pate artificially under any circumstances -- this really hardens the pate to inedible levels. I personally prefer pate on crackers, but it makes a great sandwich with avocado and soft cheese, maybe even some sliced cured meat on top of that. I've personally found pate and sliced firm tofu sandwich, with a beetroot relish, is pretty tasty.

*:- Please refer to this recipe for more information about hua chiew and substitutions for Chinese cooking wine.

**:- The bay leaf is purely an aromatic in this recipe -- apart from looking pretty. You can substitute bay leaves for some other aromatic herb or spice. Do keep in mind the substitute will have to withstand the steaming and baking processes and look good keeping in the fridge for up to 2 weeks though.

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Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
countlibras
Aug. 13th, 2007 03:02 pm (UTC)
pate?

ewwww!
vampyrichamster
Aug. 13th, 2007 03:11 pm (UTC)
Awwww, but it's tasty! On crispy stuff!
ladyeuthanasia
Aug. 13th, 2007 05:42 pm (UTC)

I LOVE LOVE LOVE paté! :D But I think rather than making it I'd rather buy it from my local French butcher. Which I don't have any more... :(
vampyrichamster
Aug. 14th, 2007 03:39 am (UTC)
If I had access to a French butcher, I think I'd not be making my own pate too! :)

Part of the other reason we need to make our own is because it's drastically cheaper. It cost us $20 for a wee anorexic tub of the good stuff in Bangkok. Finding a decent equivalent in Perth is just barmy.

Do you have access to a Vietnamese patisserie/butcher? Years of French influence meant that a lot of nice French foods got ported over. It might not be As Good As France, but still tasty!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )