Perfect Pâté? – homemade vs. commercially produced
Thinking about what to write about, I was musing on autumn, and all the lovely fruits and vegetables that are available now. Then I was given a gift. A block of Ardennes Pâté. “How nice!” I hear you say? Well, yes and no. The thought behind the gift was lovely, but the actual pâté itself was terrifying. Let me explain.
The ingredients listed for this product contain:
Pork Liver, Chicken Fat, Chicken Meat, Chicken Connective Tissue (mmm, are you hungry yet??), Wheat Flour, Salt, E301, E326, E330, E472C, Onions, Milk Protein (?), Sugar, Tomatoes, Spices, E450, E452, Yeast Extract, Rice Flour, E250, E261, Gelatine.
Now, call me fussy, but that little lot is really not something I want on my toast. However, in the interest of research, I did try it. Bleurgh. Fatty, unidentified chewy “bits”, and a very strong liver flavour. Much as I seriously HATE to waste food, that went into the bin. I know I can do better and cheaper without compromising on taste and adding weird bulking ingredients and strange chemicals.
I plan to add to this post with a “proper” coarse cut pâté recipe, but that will involve me toddling off to the butcher in search of the right ingredients, plus a group of mates to help eat the results (as Simon Hopkinson says, it’s not worth making a small terrine). So instead I’ve rummaged in the freezer for a pack of chicken livers – costing all of 60p for 250g, and made this:
Chicken Liver Pâté
250g chicken livers
2 shallots or ½ an onion
1 garlic clove
1 rasher of smoked bacon
thyme – leaves stripped from 3 sprigs
rosemary – leaves from half a sprig, chopped
sherry or Madeira
salt & pepper
Start by draining the chicken livers in a sieve and giving them a quick rinse in cold water, then tip out onto kitchen towel and pat dry. Remove any gristly bits and set aside (use scissors if you’re squeamish about handling them) Chop up the bacon and put in a wide shallow pan on a low heat for the fat to melt. Finely chop the shallots or onion and garlic, add to pan and gently cook over a low heat until translucent – don’t brown. Tip in the chicken livers, and add the thyme and rosemary. Cook over a low heat for approximately 5 minutes, until the livers go from dark wine coloured to a rosy grey colour and smell very savoury.
Add a splash of sherry or Madeira (or wine or port or brandy – whatever’s at hand really) and cook a little more to remove the raw alcohol taste. Take off heat. Add a tsp of tomato puree , a tsp of English mustard and two dsp of double cream. Stir well. Put back on heat and allow to bubble, then remove again and cool slightly.
Tip everything into a food processor and whizz until smooth. Taste and add salt and pepper to suit. Whizz again and if you have the patience, push the whole lot through a sieve – this will give the pate a beautifully smooth texture but isn’t essential. Put into ramekins, and smooth top. In a clean pan, melt 3 tbs of butter gently until it separates. Spoon the clear yellow liquid butter over the top of the pâté to cover the surface. Make sure the butter completely covers the pâté, as this will form a seal to keep the contents fresh for up 4 days until you eat it. Set aside to completely cool before putting in the fridge to set. This also freezes very well.
Eat on toast in the sure knowledge that you have made something wholesome, delicious and cheap. No connective tissue required….