I’d gone almost a lifetime without knowing much about pate.
But as my eating became more adventurous in recent years, I learned that I love the savory liver spread.
Chicken liver, duck liver, pork liver. I love the silky, rich, buttery texture of liver pate, or as I like to call it — meat butter.
But still, pate belonged next to fine cheeses at wine tastings and in French restaurants. I never thought it belonged in my kitchen until a pork farmer posted a liver pate recipe on Facebook that inspired me.
As I read the list of ingredients I remembered a demonstration that chef Alex Pope ofThe Local Pig
did showcasing off-cuts of meat, or those parts always available and inexpensive but underutilized in everyday cooking.
Pope mentioned that the secret to luring people to something they might otherwise never eat is to use enough fat and the right technique. In this case he made beef liver and onions with enough butter and cream to put Shatto Milk Company out of business.
But I tend to agree with Pope on this. How else to explain why I dreamed of that dish hours and days beyond when I first tasted it?
So there I was hungry and inspired.
The farmer’s recipe called for pork liver, but I learned I could easily substitute pork with beef liver, which is more readily available to me at the farmers’ market I manage. I’d never encountered a beef liver pate, but with memories of Pope’s beef liver and onions swirling in my head I was willing to give it a go.
I spent an hour measuring, chopping, mixing and whisking, and sent the pate to the oven. It was done 90 minutes later, and it turned out great. The texture was smooth and velvety, and the mineral taste often associated with liver was subtle and balanced by the spices and cream. As I told a friend: if it looks like pate and tastes like pate, it must be pate.
Pate is more common across Europe — the farmer attributed her version to Scandinavia — and it seems there’s a variation and different preparation for every country.
But for purposes of this recipe, pate is a combination of liver, dairy, spices and onions processed into a savory spread. It’s best served on a piece of crusty bread with fresh herbs.Scandinavian Liver Pate 1 pound Beef Liver* Bacon 2 tablespoons butter 3 tablespoons flour 1 cup cream 1 cup milk 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 3/4 teaspoons white pepper 1/2 teaspoons allspice 1/4 teaspoons ground cloves 1 1/2 cup butter 1 medium white onion, chopped 2 anchovy fillets 2 eggs
Line 1-quart bread pan with strips of bacon so bottom is completely covered and slices go up side of pan. Set aside.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in saucepan over medium heat, add flour and stir for a minute until flour is incorporated. Add milk and cream and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add salt, white pepper, allspice and ground gloves and allow to completely cool in fridge.
Divide liver, 1 1/2 cups butter, chopped onion and anchovy into two large bowls. Add 1/4 cup sauce to each bowl. In food processor or blender, process each bowl separately until smooth. Pour back into one bowl.
Whisk eggs into remaining sauce and whisk mixture into processed liver. Pour into lined pan, seal with foil, and place the pan in a baking pan half filled with hot water. Bake at 350 degrees for 90 minutes.
Allow to cool, and then refrigerate until chilled through.
To unmold, run knife around edges and flip. Peel off bacon strips and serve with mustard and other garnishments, such as chopped herbs, onion, cornichon, fruit, or nuts, as well as good crusty bread. This also freezes well.
*Note: If using pork liver to soak the livers in milk overnight. Pigs need a lot of mineral in their diet and the milk proteins bind the excess iron and leach it out of the liver.
Source: Mason Creek Farm
Raised by generations of cooks, farmers and green thumbs, Andrea Shores is an enthusiastic eater and curious cook. She loves sharing her passion for local food by telling farmers’ and food purveyors’ stories.