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Chicken Liver Paté


Laurent Tourondel, the executive chef and driving force behind the BLT group of restaurants in New York, says he loves cooking with Port. For his recipe for a warm paté of chicken livers spread atop toasted country bread, Tourondel points out that a good-quality ruby Port simmered with seasonings significantly enhances the flavors of the spread.

"The addition of the Port adds sweetness and balance," says Tourondel. "The key to cooking with it, however, is not to reduce it on too high heat because it can get scorched and ruin the flavor."

Wine recommendations: BLT's beverage manager Fred Dexheimer believes that a nice rosé Champagne is the proper wine to sip with this paté. Sticking with that theme, we also like Canella's light-bodied but lovely sparkling rosé of Pinot Noir from the Veneto region of Italy.

Number of Servings
Serves 6
For the reduction:
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup ruby Port
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

For the chicken livers:
1 pound chicken livers, trimmed
1 tablespoon sea salt, plus more to taste
¼ teaspoon pink salt, optional
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons duck fat or extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped shallot
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
3 tablespoons brandy or Cognac
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
5 sprigs fresh thyme
Fleur de Sel, to taste
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 thick slices country bread, toasted
To make the reduction: Tie the bay leaf and 2 sprigs thyme with kitchen twine. In a small, heavy saucepan set over medium-low heat, bring Port, herb bundle, sliced shallot and garlic to a simmer. Cook until Port is reduced to the consistency of thick syrup. Remove herb bundle. Remove from heat and keep warm.

To make the chicken livers: Season livers with half tablespoon sea salt, some pink salt (if using) and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon duck fat or oil in a large skillet over high heat. When it ripples, add half the livers and brown on one side, about 2 minutes. Turn and cook on the other side until golden brown but still pink in center, about 1 minute more. Stir in 1 tablespoon each of chopped shallots and garlic; then pour in 1½ Tablespoons brandy or Cognac and heat, about 2 minutes. Remove to a bowl and repeat with remaining livers, salt, shallots, garlic and Cognac.

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the browned livers and Port syrup and process until smooth. Blend in butter, season to taste with additional sea salt and pepper. Scrape into a terrine or serving bowl.

To serve: Remove leaves from remaining thyme sprigs. Sprinkle chicken liver spread with thyme leaves and Fleur de Sel and drizzle with olive oil. Serve warm with toasted country bread and cornichons.
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