Monday, 22 December 2014

Christmas Kitchen: Easy Chicken Liver Pâté with Winter Slaw

I think it baffled the people I lived with how much chicken liver I ate during my final year at university. I remember in GCSE Science lessons at school everyone used to be squeamish about touching raw liver to do enzyme experiments, and I used to go around the lab to everyones benches, without gloves and wielding a scalpel to cut of the pieces they needed for the experiment. I've always loved liver as a cooking ingredient, and it can only help that a good double portion of chicken livers are often reduced to clear for under £1 in the supermarket to be stashed in the freezer for later. For those of you who are not liver fans, we'll gloss over my favourite breakfast of a bowl of gently fried livers with parsley and finely chopped shallot for the moment.
Easy Chicken Liver Pâté with Winter Slaw
Cranberry & Red Cabbage Slaw
While I feel there should never need to be a reason for a good chicken liver pâté, tis the season for festive dinner parties, so I wanted to throw this one out there as a nice and easy make ahead starter for your festive entertaining. This pâté is a good gateway into all things liver; I find people who usually say they hate liver still enjoy it. The Winter Slaw on the side, as well as a good few hunks of crusty bread (or Melba toast) help cut through a bit of the richness. I'm a massive fan of the thinly sliced cranberries, because not only do they look pretty and add a bit more colour, their sourness really lightens up the pâté and finishes the dish.
Winter Slaw
Contrary to popular belief, I do actually plan on moving out of my parents house at some point. For when I do fly the nest (for real this time, rather than just moving to London or Los Angeles and then deciding to come back again!) I've been gathering various things for my future kitchen in my office. I must say that I'm rather excited by some of my recent editions. First off, the guys at Denby have sent me some lovely crockery from their Imperial Blue dinner set as a thank you for judging their baking competition recently, and I think the side plate really finishes off this dish aside one of my mothers blue ramekins.

I was lacking a food processor (just about one of the only thinks my beloved cream K-Mix can't do!), and my old stick blender is on its last legs, so I was really happy when the guys at Russell Hobbs sent me one of their 6 in 1 blenders, which does everything from whisking to blending to chopping. It is no secret that my stick blender is my soup secret weapon, but here I've found that I now own a happy replacement for my mother's mini chopper I use all the time (and this bowl holds way more, so it is basically a 1-2 person food processor) which made really short work of blending my livers into a nice smooth pâté. The slicing blade also made short work of my slaw. I love slaw, but hate slicing for ages, so this is a pretty big win.

How To Make Chicken Liver Pâté Chicken Liver Pâté & Winter Slaw
The measurements I've given below make enough pate to serve 8-6 people as a light lunch or starter. We're talking holiday cooking here. Things are even more generous with the slaw, but that's okay because it's Christmas. Leftovers are not only expected, but encouraged. Finish leftovers in a turkey sandwich or, as we have discovered goes beautifully, on the side of some lightly poached, cold trout or salmon, or some gravalax.

  • Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Small Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Large Garlic Clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp Dried Thyme
  • Sea Salt
  • 1 Pack (350-400g/ approx. 14 oz) Chicken Livers 
  • 1 tbsp Brandy 
  • 1/4 Head Purple Cabbage
  • Juice of 1/2 Lemon
  • 20 ml (1 1/2 tbsp) Water
  • 1 tsp Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Bunch Fresh Dill, finely chopped
  • 5-6 Brussels Sprouts
  • 25g (1 oz) Fresh Cranberries

Heat a knob of butter in a large frying pan until frothy. Add the onion, garlic, thyme and 1/2 tsp salt and gently fry until the onions start to soften. Add the liver and cook for about 5 minutes until the liver has cooked through and is only slightly pink in the middle. Set aside to cool slightly.

Thinly slice the cabbage on a slicing attachment or using a very sharp knife. Whisk together the lemon juice, water, cider vinegar, sugar and 1/2 tsp salt until all of the salt and toss together with the cabbage and the dill. Set aside. 

In a food processor or mini chopped blend together the liver, onion and their cooking juices until smooth. Add a generous knob of butter and the brandy and blend again until combined. Separate into individual portions in small dishes, or into one big dish, smooth over and leave to set solid in the fridge for at least half an hour. 

Shred the brussels sprouts, thinly slice the cranberries and toss together with the cabbage. Serve with toasted, crusty bread. 

Well, here ends my festive starter pointer for your upcoming holiday meals! I'm sorry I can't be much help on the mains (I feel we should all be sticking to our family traditions here, though I'm hoping if I get some time in the kitchen when it is light enough to take some photos ahead of the big day I may be able to share some of my personal trimming recipes with you!), but if you're after alternative desserts, this Christmas pudding hater is here to help. If you want to stick to the theme of individual portions, my French 3-Ingredient Chocolate Mousse looks great served in little glass dishes and topped with edible gold stars, and if family style is more your thing, you must have seen my showstopper Ginger & Pomegranate Sandwich Cake by now, right?

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