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How to Make Pate at Home

Hannah Abaffy
  |   June 30, 2020   |  

Pâté, with its buttery mousse-like texture, its rich taste, and its cosmopolitan circumflex over the â, combine to make it a dish that appears far too difficult and luxurious to make at home. It may come as a surprise then to learn that despite its complex taste and ethereal texture, pâté is quite simple to make, requiring nothing more than a handful of easily attainable ingredients along with basic tools already found in almost any kitchen.

What is Pâté?

While often produced from chicken or goose liver, pâté recipes are not relegated to poultry and can also be made from seafood, meats, or even vegetables. Highly seasoned, this mixture generally contains a combination of aromatics like onions, garlic, herbs, wine, or brandy, and a generous amount of butter. Served cold or warm, molded or unmolded, silky smooth or chunky, pâté provides a blank canvas for the creative cook.

How to Make Pâté

By far, one of the best ways to enjoy any liver, pâté boasts intense gamey flavors and unmistakable notes of iron. While it may be an acquired taste, it’s one worth developing. Like learning a new language or making your way through the interminable prose of an antiquated book, it’s well worth the effort. Follow along as we attempt to demystify the art of making gourmet liver pâté so you can enjoy the pleasures of this sumptuous dish at home any time the mood strikes!

Step One: Cleaning the Liver

Classic chicken liver is the perfect place for the rookie to start. You can find these livers at any decent local market, and they’re always relatively cheap, setting you back no more than a few dollars a pound.

The first and by far the hardest step comes at the beginning. Offering the only real barrier to making this dish at home, is the slightly tricky process of cleaning the liver. Another reason we love to start with chicken liver instead of foie gras is its low price point, so you can practice with abandon, working out a solid technique without the fear of ruining a more expensive ingredient.

To achieve that silky mousse-like texture, cleaning the livers is not a step that can be bypassed or skipped. Using a sharp knife, kitchen shears, or even your hands, you need to remove the connective tissue between the lobes of the liver. Even for those who have never worked with liver before, you’ll be able to easily identify what needs to be removed. The lobes you’re trying to save are smooth and dark in color while the connective tissue will be significantly lighter, fibrous, and lumpy in texture. They may even be streaked with fat, which will help you identify them easily. Once the lobes are thoroughly cleaned, the rest of the process is easy and relatively tidy in comparison.

Step Two: Cooking the Liver

Start by cooking your ingredients in a pan to maximize the flavors in your dish. To further its luxurious quality do all this in a generous amount of butter. As it slowly melts, begin the seasoning process adding in a big pinch of sea salt, some fresh cracked black pepper, and your herb of choice. Some minced garlic, (two or three cloves ought to be enough), and onion. As the butter finishes melting, the flavor of the aromatics will begin to meld together, making your kitchen smell incredible.

Once the onions have softened and turned translucent add in your cleaned lobes of liver along with a splash of wine and balsamic vinegar. Give them time to brown thoroughly developing those deep caramelized notes of flavor. We want to retain a small amount of pink in the center, so don’t let the cooking process go too far. Turn off the heat and allow the whole thing to cool as the flavors intermingle and the liver begins to absorb the flavors of the wine, butter, and vinegar.

Step Three: Blitzing the Liver

While everything’s still hot but no longer bubbling, transfer the contents of the pan into a food processor using a spatula to get all the juices in as well. These are full of flavor and shouldn’t be forgotten or, heaven forbid, thrown out. Once it’s all in, blitz the entire thing until smooth, taking a moment to scrape the bottom. Blitz again until silky smooth, then transfer to a dish to chill.

Step Four: Chilling the Pâté

Pour the pâté into your ramekin or terrine. Once filled, spread a kitchen cloth onto your counter and bang the terrine gently but firmly onto the cloth to help the mousse settle down, and any air pockets work their way out of the dish. Cover tightly in plastic wrap, and chill. The longer you chill your liver, the better it will taste. We prefer to let the entire thing rest overnight in the refrigerator, this gives the ingredients adequate time to meld and the flavor to develop. If you don’t have that kind of time, however, an hour in the refrigerator, or 30-45 minutes in the freezer, should chill the pâté thoroughly and allow you to slice it for serving.

How to Serve and Eat Pâté

For an elegant and tasty first course, serve your pâté alongside a fresh baguette, sliced into rounds. Smear pâté onto sandwiches for an unexpected punch of flavor and a creamy addition to your regular lettuce and tomatoes. Or add them cubed to a cheese and charcuterie board. The perfect complement to a wide range of cheeses pâté will add complexity and richness. Delicious served in any number of ways it highlights and accentuates, making the gastronomic possibilities of this delicious dish virtually limitless!

Storing and Shelf Life: Can You Freeze Pâté?

Pâté -especially those that are from scratch- have a notoriously short shelf life. Best eaten one to two days after being made, they can be safely kept refrigerated no longer than seven or eight days. To extend this relatively short window of time, you can also freeze your pâtés. Always make sure to date your pâté, due to its high-fat content, liver pâtés shouldn’t be kept much longer than three months in the freezer, or they will start to break down and that lovely mousse-like texture will be lost.

Armed with these tips of the trade, you now have an easy pâté recipe that can be applied to any ingredients you choose. Try making a vegetable pâté recipe by swapping out chicken livers for mushrooms, or go for the good stuff and make a classic French goose liver pâté out of foie gras. No matter what ingredients you end up using we’re certain you’re going to love the final result!

Questions and Answers

Q:What is the main ingredient in pâté?
A:Depending on what kind of homemade pate recipe you’re creating the main ingredient cen be either liver or your choice of vegetable.
Q:What is the best pâté for beginners?
A:We recommend beginning your experimentation with chicken livers until you’ve mastered the cleaning technique then moving on to more expensive varieties.
Q:How long does homemade pâté last?
A:To enjoy this luxurious ingredient at its best consume within seven days of making. Or portion and freeze until ready to use. Frozen, it can last up to three months before the texture begins to break down.
Q:Can I freeze home made liver pate?
A:Not only can you, but it’s encouraged if you know you won’t be able to finish the liver you’ve made within a week.

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Hannah Abaffy

Chef-Copywriter-Sultan of Sweets

Working in the hospitality industry for well over a decade, Chef Hannah Abaffy has held every position available in a restaurant kitchen. From line cook to executive pastry chef, she calls on her ten-plus years of work in the field and her culinary degree to write about our gourmet ingredients and craft informational articles and blog posts that will help you elevate everything from a wedge of cheese to a lobe of foie gras.

From working with food every day to writing about it, Hannah is now a contributing author for Gourmet Food Store, along with her work helping restaurants develop recipes and craft menus and running her award-nominated food history blog Milk and Honey.

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