Hello there Grigsoners! I have had a brief hiatus from blogging of late – life has simply gotten in the way. I shall spare you the boring details. December has not been the productive month I hoped, but I did make this pâté. It was intended for the Evolution Group’s Christmas Party, but I was rather ill on the day and therefore had to eat this over several days afterwards. No mean feat seeing as it serves eight.
If you are thinking of having some pâté this Christmas, try making this one. The best thing about it is that you can make it around three days before you want to eat it. I am not going to make the glaringly obvious point that pâté is not English.
Start off by removing the gall bladders and stringy bits from 8 ounces of chicken livers. Keep aside half of the nicest looking ones and pass the rest through a mincer along with a small onion, a small clove of garlic and two rashers of streaky bacon. To the minced mixture, mix in 8 to 12 ounces of sausagemeat (the best thing to do is buy good sausages and peel them), a pinch each of thyme and oregano, some salt and some black and Cayenne peppers, plus 2 tablespoons each of sherry and brandy and a tablespoon of drained green peppercorns. When all is mixed in well, you can start putting the thing together in layers in an ovenproof pot, though you should taste the mixture first to check for seasoning (it sounds foul, but it really isn’t that bad). Start with some of the mixture, then half the reserved livers, then more mix, the rest of the livers, and a final layer of mixture. Cover with some back fat or pork skin and place in a roasting tin and pour in some boiling water. Place it in the oven for 45 minutes at 180⁰C, or until the pâté starts to come away from the edges of the pot. Once half cool, place some light weights on top and leave for two or three days before serving with toast or ‘good bread’.
#210 Coarse Chicken Liver Pâté. This was delicious and couldn’t get enough of it. I happy munched my way through the whole thing over four days. The herbs were delicate in flavour and complimented the creamy livers well. The booze made it sweet and moist, but the peppercorns made the whole thing sublime. A really delicious recipe – never buy your pâté again and have a go at this one! 8.5/10
The starter to the dinner party. The problem with dinner parties is that unless you’re careful, you end up stressed out in the kitchen cooking away and not seeing or speaking to anyone. This warm salad seemed just the job, as long as everything was prepped beforehand; it takes only minutes to make. This recipe looked simple and very tasty indeed – anything with chicken livers and fried bread always gets my vote. I also like that in this recipe appears in the Vegetables chapter of the book!
FYI: although liver is both delicious and cheap – be warned of potential poisoning through an overdose of vitamin A. However, this only really applies to polar bear, seal and husky liver. But you have been warned, so don’t come crying to me when you’ve got serious hypervitaminosis.
This recipe serves four to six people:
Briefly boil 12 ounces of mange tout in salted water; just two minutes will do it. Don’t put a lid on (the same goes for any green vegetable) as it keeps them crisp and gives them a vibrant green colour. Drain them and keep them warm in a bowl in a low oven. Now cut six rashers of streaky bacon into strips and fry them in a little sunflower oil until crisp, remove, drain, add more oil, then fry 24 (ish; let’s no get too pernickety) bread cubes in the oil. When golden brown, drain and keep them and the bacon warm. Make a simple vinaigrette from some sunflower or hazelnut oil and some white wine vinegar. Use a ratio you prefer, though Griggers suggests 3:2 oil to vinegar. Stir this into the mange tout. Now fry the chicken livers: you need six – cube them and remove any gristly bits and gall bladders should there be any. Fry them quickly and briefly – they should be a little bit pink inside. Remove them from the heat. Carefully stir in the bacon and liver and serve straight away.
#196 Mange Tout Salad with Chicken Liver and Bacon. This was delicious. The salty and fatty bacon and rich metallic liver were perfectly balanced with the bland and sweet mange tout. The crispy croutons add extra textures too. I really love these simple recipes in the book (you’re not always sure which ones they are going to be). Minimum effort, maximum reward. Brilliant stuff 8.5/10
A cheap treat. I love chicken livers, yet so many people seem to turn their noses up at them – I suppose it’s because it’s offal and folks are squeamish. It is silly though, since they are the main ingredient in pate. Any road, any local butcher should sell them very cheaply – I bought 250 grams for about £1.20 and they were prepared too, which reduced the amount of faffage later. If you buy them – do check they have had their bitter green fall bladders removed or the food will be ruined. This recipe appealed to me because of its simplicity, but also because of its ‘devilled’ (i.e., spiced) nature – a very Victorian way of cooking things (eggs and kidneys spring to mind). Devilling seems to be having a resurgence recently – the day after I cooked this, some chef on The Great British Menu competition that’s being shown on the BBC cooked devilled crab claws. Hopefully it will get popular again.
Have a go at this – it’s enough for 4 people as a starter.
Finely chop a medium-sized onion and fry it in 2 ounces of clarified butter gently. Whilst you wait for the onions to soften, chop up 8 ounces of chicken livers roughly, raise the heat and fry the livers quickly, do this for only 2 minutes, 3 at the most. This is why clarified butter is required – it doesn’t burn when you heat it as the ‘butter solids’ have been decantered off. I made my own by melting some butter gently, skimming off any scum from the top and decanting and solids away that had sunk to the bottom. Take the livers off the heat and add 2 teaspoons each of Worcester sauce and Dijon mustard, Cayenne pepper, 3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs, ¼ pint of whipping or double cream, and finally some salt and black pepper. Mix well and check your seasonings. If you like you devil a spicy one add more – I did! Divide between 3 or 4 ramekins and sprinkle with more breadcrumbs and melted butter. Bake at 190°C for 15 minutes and serve with toast.
#147 Devilled Chicken Livers – 9.5/10. I may change this to a 10/10 as it was a perfect starter. Absolutely delicious – the devil was fiery yet it was perfectly tempered with the cream and breadcrumbs. The big strong flavours had no chance of drowning out the rich creamy chicken livers. Brilliant stuff. I haven’t stopped thinking about since I made them, and my stomach is rumbling as I type. This is definitely a Grigson classic!