Sunday Dinner

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 Chicken Liver Pâté
Toast Points

My youngest daughter was doing a segment in class about ancestry this past week.  As the older two kids took the Polish and Norwegian parts of their all-over-the-map European heritage for their ancestry projects a few years back, I suggested that she use the German part of her background.  I'm glad I did, because it inspired this menu.

The livers are soaked in buttermilk prior to use. This step serves to round off the sharp and bitter taste of the liver, making for a milder impact on the palette. The apple in the mix lends a welcome note of sweetness. 

This paté is a perfect appetizer for nights this time of year when it gets dark at 5pm.  A piece of toast with liver pate and a beer or glass of wine makes for happy hour bliss.  

Brandied Chicken Liver Pâté
8 servings

1 pound chicken livers, trimmed and connective tissue removed
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
8 Tablespoons (4-ounces) unsalted butter, softened and divided
1 Tablespoons olive oil
2 medium shallots, chopped
1 small Granny smith apple, peeled, cored, and grated
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup Cognac or brandy
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, plus sprigs for garnish
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
2 Tablespoons crème fraîche

Rinse and drain the chicken livers from their juices.  Place them in a medium bowl and cover with the buttermilk.  Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. (When ready to use, remove the livers from the buttermilk and pat dry with paper towels.)

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and the oil over medium-high heat until sizzling hot.  Add the shallots and sauté for 3 minutes or until they begin to soften.  Add the apple and sauté for another 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute more.  Add the chicken livers, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until the livers are brown all over, but still slightly pink on the inside.  Add the Cognac or brandy, parsley and thyme, and sauté for 1 minute, until the Cognac reduces slightly.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Transfer the liver mixture to a food processor and add the cream and crème fraîche.  With the motor running, add the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until smooth and incorporated.  Spoon the mixture into a 2-cup crock or mold and spread evenly.  Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface and refrigerate for at least 2 hours of overnight, until firmly set.  

Serve cold or at room temperature garnished with extra thyme sprigs.  Serve with toast points, crostini, or crackers.  Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from The Joy of Cooking, 1997 and Sara Foster's Southern Kitchen, by Sara Foster


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