Pâté

One of the things that I love about Davis is that it’s blessed with a great bakery that makes excellent bread. Thanks to that I almost always have some fresh bread at home to enjoy with butter, cheese, or pate. The latter is the subject of this post.

Pate is a paste made of meat, liver, and fats. The most popular one is probably the one made of foie gras, but duck liver is quite expensive and very hard to find here, so I usually use chicken liver instead. Chicken liver can be found at any super market with a decent butchery; in the Bay Area PW Supermarkets is probably your best option, while here in Davis you can find it at the co-op or Nuggets.

Apparently, not everybody agrees on the merits of pate. According to wikipedia:

in a blind taste test conducted by the American Association of Wine Economists, 15 of 18 subjects misidentified the sample foods – some of which are pâté – as dog food

I’d certainly be surprised if dog food was that good… but this shows however, that pate is a fairly unknown product in the US. While in Spain cheeses and pates share more or less the same shelve space, in the US pate is hard to come by.

In any case, home made pate is actually much better than what you can find on the stores, and it’s super-easy to do it yourself, so you are not really missing anything.

The practice of measuring recipe ingredients exactly is not very popular in Spain, most of the recipes that I’ve inherited contain vague measures like “scant”, “pinch” or “handful”, tablespoons and cups never have the same size, and when the ingredients are measured exactly, only their weight is provided. Almost nobody has a scale in their kitchen, so you generally have to take those measures with a grain of salt and use your common sense instead.

I got this recipe from my mother, all the ingredients are measured in weight, and I’ve confirmed they actually work well, but in practice most of the time I do not measure them exactly, so just take them as a guideline:

  • 250 gr of chicken livers
  • 150 gr of smoked ham
  • 150 gr of bacon
  • 50 gr green onions or shallots
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 200 gr heavy cream
  • cured manchego or parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 nutmeg, peper and salt

First, remove the hearts and macerate the livers in brandy for at least 4 hours. If you don’t have brandy you can also use white wine and leave them a little longer.

Fry the onions in the oil and butter in a medium saucepan until softened, then add the bacon and continue frying without letting it brown. Mix in the rest of the meat with the spices, and cook 8 to 10 minutes until the livers are well done.

Add the cream, it should fill the interstices, but not cover the meat entirely. Then add as much grinded cheese as you see fit. In Spain I always used one-year-cured Manchego cheese, but here that’s very rare, typically you can only find the semi-cured variety, and it’s quite pricey. Instead, I think that cured parmesan also works well. In addition to that, I also add a little bit of blue cheese, but not too much to avoid overriding the other flavors.

Finally, bring it to boil so that the cheese fully dissolves, and blend in a food processor until you have a smooth mixture. Alternatively, you can add other herbs, spices, or nuts, it’s hard to go wrong.

5 responses

  1. I throw it out, but I do not dry the livers, so some of the brandy goes into the saucepan as well.

    I generally add the ham after the bacon and before the liver, but you can also add the ham and the liver at the same time. I don’t think it makes any difference.

  2. Mamá dice que pongas derechos de autor… xDD

    P.D: (escribe ella, no me responsabilizo de lo que ella escriba)
    en ingles… no me entero mucho, me imagino que diras quien te enseñó a cocinalo ehh!

  3. Came across your blog by accident as I was checking up on Chris Hecker’s Spy Party. I’ll definitely try out your pate recipe, as it sounds yummy, although in my case, you cannot beat La Piara for that proustian madeleine effect.

  4. Yeah, La Piara has a very distinctive flavor, in Spain I used to use cook a lot with it, but here in the US it’s hard to come by; I generally bring some cans with me when I go to Spain. It may be possible to get a similar flavor using pig liver instead of chicken, but I haven’t tried that out yet.

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