A Parisian Christmas
When it comes to Christmas, I can’t imagine any place more decadent or elegant than the French capital of Paris. Known to the world as the City of Light, it shines even brighter with the arrival of the holiday season. The Eiffel Tower is a sparkly glow, and the streets leading to the Arch of Triumph are filled with lights. Christian worshippers flock to Notre Dame Cathedral to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and the shops all over are buzzing with energy.
For the average Parisian, the holidays are the culinary highlight of their year. Families will indulge at the markets, buying quality meats and seafood, tasty cheeses, fine wines, and various delectables known to their culinary tradition.
Now I’ve honestly never been to Paris, as I imagine most of us have not, especially for Christmas. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t bring the Parisian experience to your home this holiday season. If you need a good place to start, try a traditional pâté. I showed you a country style pâté in the past, which could be seen as a chicken meatloaf with goat cheese. However, a more traditional pâté would use the livers of poultry, and I’d see it more as a flavored butter spread as opposed to a meatloaf.
Making a classic chicken liver pâté isn’t difficult, but it involves timing, tasting, and patience. You’re literally combining cooked livers with butter, and then cooling it all back into a solid form that could be spooned and spread. You could serve it as a side in a dinner, or better yet as an appetizer for guests arriving in your home. Even if you find chicken liver to be gross to your palette, you can always try this same technique with dark meat from a chicken.
Give it a go:
Chicken Liver Pâté
- 4 oz (1 stick) of unsalted butter
- 1 shallot, diced
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 lb of chicken livers, rinsed and well-trimmed
- 1/2 tsp of thyme
- 2 tsp of Cognac
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Set up a deep frying pan or medium-size saucepan on medium-high heat.
- Place into the pan 1/4 of the butter and melt it until it's liquid.
- Add in the garlic and shallot, cooking until soft and fragrant.
- Bring in the chicken livers.
- Season the mixture with thyme, salt, and pepper.
- Continue cooking the livers until nearly done.
- Lower the heat and add in the rest of the butter.
- Wait until the butter is fully melted, then remove the pan from the heat.
- Transfer the mixture to a food processor.
- Pour in the Cognac, and then blend the mixtue until smooth.
- Spoon the finished pâté into your serving dish or storage container.
- Cover the pâté with a layer of melted butter (or a sheet of plastic wrap), then place it into the refrigerator.
- Chill the pâté until cold before serving.
Make sure you rinse your chicken livers with water, and fully trim them of fatty cartilege.
When cooking with butter, be careful not to burn it. If you see the butter darkening before you add in anything, lower your heat.
If you want a smoother pâté, press the final mixture through a strainer before moving it to serving/storage containers.
You don't have to use a layer of melted butter on the top of the pâté. It's simply a traditional and elegant way to package the final product. A sheet of plastic wrap can do the job. Just make sure to cover it so it can remain moist and fresh.
If chicken livers are not your forte, then try using some chicken thighs. Pull the meat off the bones and cook them in the butter the way you would the livers. It won't taste the same as a chicken liver pâté, but it's still delicious.
Keep your pâté chilled when you're not serving it. If your pâté seems hard when you pull it out of the refrigerator, then let it sit for 10-15 minutes to soften.
Best way to serve this pâté is with some slices of a good baguette.