Cooking 101

Pate starts out homely, ends up a thing of beauty

Pate might just be chopped liver to some people, but to Johnson County Community College student chef Jacob Wright it’s a thing of beauty.

He admits that the bowl of chicken livers might be ugly to start with, but with just a few steps and an abundance of time, it’s transformed into a thing of beauty. “I really like forced meat,” he said. “It’s simple and elegant. You can do so much with so little.”

He also likes pate’s versatility. It can add a protein to a simple luncheon salad, or be served with crackers or toast points for an appetizer. Form it into a roll and slice it into rounds and it becomes a sandwich filling.

Wright offers these tips for the pate-making process:

• Soaking chicken livers in milk draws out the blood in the livers and reduces bitterness. Discard the milk after soaking. The sinew is the white fibrous strand on the liver; it should be removed with a sharp knife before sautéing the livers.

• Quatre epices is French spice blend that typically includes nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and white pepper. Sometimes ginger is added, as well. Quatre epices is available at high-end grocers.

• Don’t have a sieve? No problem. Wright says a spatter guard will work just as well; it’s what he uses at home.

Chicken Liver Pate with Artisan Greens and Orange Sherry Vinaigrette Makes 4 servings Pate
8 ounces chicken livers Milk Kosher salt and white pepper to taste 2 tablespoons clarified butter 1/3 cup chopped shallots
3 tablespoons brandy 1 tablespoon quatre epices 2 tablespoons rice vinegar 1 ounce chopped pistachios Salad 4 cups artisan salad mix (romaine, red leaf and escarole) 1/2 cup sliced radishes 1 carrot, julienned 1 orange, peeled and sectioned Seeds of 1 pomegranate Vinaigrette 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar 2 tablespoons orange juice 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon sugar Pinch salt Crackers or croutons

Two days before serving: Place chicken livers in medium bowl; add enough milk to cover; soak overnight.

Day before serving:

Remove livers from milk, rinse thoroughly. Carefully remove sinew from the liver. Season livers with salt and pepper. Heat clarified butter in medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add livers to pan and sear until no blood is left. Remove from pan, set aside.

Reduce heat to low, add shallots to pan, cover and cook until soft but not brown. Deglaze pan with brandy; flambé shallots. Remove from heat.

Place livers, shallot reduction, quatre epices and vinegar in food processor. Pulse mixture, scraping between pulses, until blended to a smooth paste. Remove from food processor. Pass through a sieve three times or until the mixture no longer has a gritty texture. Place in a one-cup ramekin and refrigerate overnight.

Day of serving:

Wash salad greens. Arrange on individual serving plates. Top with radishes, carrots, orange sections and pomegranate seeds. Whisk together vinegar, orange juice, olive oil, sugar and salt; drizzle over salad. Remove pate from refrigerator, remove from ramekin. Sprinkle with pistachio. Cut into quarters and place on serving plate.

Serve with crackers or croutons.

Per serving: 472 calories (73 percent from fat), 38 grams total fat (9 grams saturated), 240 milligrams cholesterol, 19 grams carbohydrates, 12 grams protein, 242 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber.