There’s nothing more ooh-la-la French than a delicate spread of chicken liver pâté spooned generously on a crusty baguette. Especially in Paris, chefs take great pride in their pâtés and terrines featuring the finest ingredients all served extravagantly with grandiose fanfare. Oh, please!
Come on, now. Chicken liver is as down-home dining as most any food can get. Even in southern France, chicken liver pâté is a simple dish served without pretense in most every Provencal home. And here in southern Louisiana, French Acadian culinary influence has preserved this dish through generations of home cooks. Although rarely seen in Acadiana restaurants, chicken liver pâté can be found in specialty shops alongside terrines of headcheese and other popular delicacies.
My recipe replaces the pomp and pageantry of chicken liver pâté with a jolt of buttermilk, bacon, and bourbon. You can’t get more Southern than that, and this recipe ramps up the flavor with a wine-infused muscadine pepper jelly for a crown of sweet heat.
Promise me you’ll try this Chicken Liver Pâté recipe and prepare to bombard your taste buds with delightful new flavors.
- 1 (750-ml) bottle (3 cups) muscadine wine, blush preferably
- 4 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons finely diced red bell pepper
- 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
- Dash of Tabasco pepper sauce
- 3 packets fruit pectin, such as Ball
- 1 pound chicken livers
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 strips applewood smoked bacon
- ½ cup diced yellow onion
- ½ cup peeled and diced apple
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon sugarcane vinegar
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons clarified butter, optional
- Toasted baguette slices, for serving
- Empty the bottle of wine into a pot over medium-high heat and add the sugar. Bring it to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar. Lower the heat to a simmer and stir in the pectin, lemon juice, diced pepper, pepper flakes, and Tabasco sauce. Continue simmering until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove any foam.
- Pour the mixture into a serving container (I like Mason jars) and chill in the refrigerator until the jelly sets. If storing indefinitely, follow proper canning directions to store in sterilized sealed jars.
- Drain the chicken livers in a colander. Inspect the livers and with a paring knife or kitchen shears, remove any fat. Add the livers to a bowl and pour over the buttermilk. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, strain, and keep chilled until ready to cook.
- In a skillet over medium-high heat, add the bacon and cook just until most of the fat has rendered, but before it becomes crisp, about 8 minutes. Remove the bacon, chop into small pieces, and reserve.
- Add the onion and apple to the skillet with the hot grease and cook until the onion turns translucent and the apple softens, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the chicken livers and the chopped bacon along with the garlic and rosemary. Reduce the heat to low, gently sauté the livers and season lightly with white pepper, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Add the bay leaves and deglaze the pan with vinegar and bourbon (be careful of any flames). Continue stirring the livers for about 3 minutes until the liquor evaporates and the liquid reduces. Check to see that the livers cook through but are still pink in the middle. Turn off the heat, remove the bay leaves, and let the mixture cool.
- In the container of a food processor, add the liver mixture and the eggs. Process the mixture and gradually add the cold butter. Continue until thoroughly blended and smooth, about 5 minutes. Spoon the pâté into a crock or individual ramekins and serve with the pepper jelly and toasted baguette slices. If you plan to store or freeze the pâté, preserve the pure taste of the pâté by adding a thin layer of clarified butter and placing it in the refrigerator to seal in the flavor.
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