If there were no other reason…

If there were no other reason to favour The Guardian, it would still be worth topping the list just for Felicity Cloake. Time and again when searching for recipes for something I specifically want to make, her How to Cook the Perfect… series crops up in my search results, inevitably yielding the chosen recipe at the end of my research.

Fundamentally, Felicity takes all of the hard slog and experimentation out of the process. She tries out recipes from different chefs, taste tests them and selects chosen features from them for her final amalgamation of a perfect version.

My taste does not always accord with hers but I do use her research and opt for one of her tested suggestions if that suits me better. As I said, it saves me doing my own research.

For weeks now I have been hankering to make a Chicken Liver Pâté. I’ve been meaning to ask my butcher if they have chicken livers but failed to get around to it before a Facebook contact asked them the question first. The upshot is that we now both have chicken livers on order, coming in to the island’s Community Shop.  I ordered plenty as there are some 5:2 recipes for chicken livers that I should like to try out.

It has been rather more years than I care to divulge since I last made a Chicken Liver Pâté. So long since that I cannot recall the source of my recipe. I remember the event and the pâté itself quite well, and especially the earthenware lidded terrine that I bought to bake it in – this worked as my butter dish for many years after. Now… that’s a clue, I baked the pate in a bain-marie.

As I recall, the livers were browned in butter first, flambéed with brandy and liquidised with other ingredients before the water bath experience. A quick check of Delia reveals that her recipe is not baked, so I did not use that. I wonder if it was the Reader’s Digest Cookery Year – a volume that saw heavy duty in my kitchen in the 1970s and 80s.

Whatever – Felicity comments in her article, How to make perfect chicken liver pâté:

[su_quote]Blanc and Spry bake theirs in a water bath and a cool oven. This gives them a firmer, lighter, less creamy texture — they look more impressive, particularly Spry’s, encased as it is in streaky bacon, but I prefer the richness of the set variety.[/su_quote]

and there is the rub – I’m not a huge fan of richness.

Felicity has other comments on Blanc’s recipe to which I concur, so he is ruled out for me but I do not have a copy of Spry. So I think I am going to go for the “perfect” version and make sure that I have plenty of pickle or relish suitable for cutting through that richness. The plainest of melba toast, I think, to park it on.

I did take a walk through some of the links in the article and was very taken by the notion of a Cognac Aspic to seal the top, rather than butter. Might be worth an experiment.

Sweet wine to accompany is taken care of – Mr L placed a Naked Wines order this morning that was packed with fizz, fullness and fortification, as befits the season.

I am assuming that the livers will arrived in the frozen state – fresh ones seem to have disappeared from the face of the earth – so I’ll not be making my pate in any hurry. We shall have it as a starter for Mr L’s birthday or our wedding anniversary dinner, I’m not sure which yet.
[su_box title=”PERFECT CHICKEN LIVER PÂTÉ” style=”soft”]

Serves 4

350g chicken livers, cleaned
175g butter, diced
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tsp thyme leaves, finely chopped
75ml madeira
75ml double cream
½ tsp salt
1 allspice berry, ground
¼ tsp ground ginger

1. Cut the livers into roughly 1.5cm pieces, and heat a knob of butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the shallot and thyme and soften, then turn up the heat to medium-high, add the livers and saute for a couple of minutes until browned on the outside but still pink inside. Tip into a food processor.

2. Add the madeira to the pan and boil until reduced to a couple of tablespoons. Tip into the food processor, add the cream, salt and spices and whizz until smooth. Add all but 75g of the butter, and whizz again. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

3. Pass through a sieve into a serving dish and chill for half an hour. Melt the remaining butter and pour on top, then refrigerate until set.

Felicity Cloake



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