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Chicken Liver Paté with Port Gelée

I so enjoy paté. Any variation is just dandy with me; whether it’s duck liver (paté de foie de canard), mushroom (pâté de champignons), or this chicken liver with port jello (pâté de foie de poulet au porto gelée).

It’s easy to make. However, I found that using a blender makes for a much smoother paté rather than using a food processor.  If you’re okay with the end results being more rustic (i.e., less smooth) by all means use your food processor. I enjoy a mouth feel that’s perfectly creamy so I switched out my equipment and used my Vitamix. In other words, I did the testing so that you wouldn’t have to!

I’m also a big fan of duck fat and happened to have some stashed away in my refrigerator. Consequently, I used a combination of fats with about 4 ounces of butter and 2 ounces of duck fat.

Paté is perfect to serve on crostini as part of an apéritif with a glass of champagne or rosé.

Makes about six – 3 ounce ramekins

For the Paté:
1 to 1 1/4 pounds chicken livers, well-trimmed and preferably organic
10 to 15 white peppercorns
2 allspice berries
1 clove, whole
3 coriander seeds
3/4 cup (6 oz / 180 g) unsalted butter
1 large shallot, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 garlic clove, chopped
Pinch of kosher salt or to taste
1 – 2 tablespoons brandy or cognac
2 tablespoon heavy cream

For the gelée:
1 gelatin sheet (3 x 5-inches)
4-5 coriander seeds
2 allspice berries
1/4 cup (2 oz), plus 2 tablespoons port
2 teaspoons granulated sugar

To make Paté
Place the livers in a non-reactive colander or strainer and allow to drain. Remove them to some paper towels to dry. Set aside.

Using a mortar and pestle pulverize into a fine powder the peppercorns, allspice berries, whole clove and coriander seeds. Set aside.

In a medium skillet heat about 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the shallots and cook about 5 minutes or just until translucent.  Add the garlic and salt to taste and continue to cook about another minute, being careful not to let the garlic brown nor letting the butter burn.  Add the spices and cook for an additional 10 seconds so that the spices bloom.  Remove the mixture to a heat proof bowl.

Wipe out the skillet to remove any bits they may burn during the second round of cooking. Place the skillet back on medium heat and add another 6 tablespoons of fat.  Once the fat is hot, add the livers (in batches if necessary so as not to crowd the pan). Quickly sauté, searing the outside, but keeping the inside pink in color. If cooking in batches remove the livers along with the butter (again if it’s getting too dark) as they cook and reserve. Add more fat as needed along with the remaining livers and cook in the same method as the first batch.

Once all the livers are cooked, remove the pan from the heat and add the brandy or cognac.  Return to the heat and carefully tip the pan (if using a gas flame) or ignite the alcohol with a long match. Allow the alcohol to burn off. The goal is to control the ignition of the alcohol so that it’s not a surprise.

After all the livers have been cooked and the flame has burned out, add the contents to a blender (or food processor) along with the sautéed onions and remaining butter. Blend until the paté is completely smooth. Once smooth add the cream and blend just until combined.

Pack in 3 ounce mason jars or ramekins and allow to cool to room temperature.  Cover and refrigerate until cold.

To make gelée:
Place the gelatin sheet in a small bowl of cold water and allow to bloom (soften). This should take about 10 minutes. While the gelatin is blooming, using a mortar and pestle, pulverize the spices and set aside.  Place port wine, sugar and spices in a small saucepan. Heat to a simmer to dissolve the sugar. Turn off the heat and strain to remove any spice bits. Return the port to the pan and keep hot.

After the gelatin has bloomed, remove the sheet from the water and squeeze out any excess. Add the gelatin to the hot port mixture, stirring until the gelatin has dissolved. Pour into a small heat-proof measuring cup and divide evenly over the ramekins of chilled paté. Allow to cool and then return to the refrigerator.

The paté will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for a couple of months.

To serve, allow paté to come to room temperature. Spread a bit of the gelée and paté in crostini and serve with a glass of champagne or rosé.