Chicken liver pate wasn’t something I was familiar with growing up. My mother made calves liver for dinner often, TOO often I thought. It was slightly overcooked and chewy with that livery taste. I was frequently left at the table because I hadn’t finished my dinner. I eventually learned to cut it into tiny pieces and swallow it whole with my milk – kids always find a way!
My husband’s Aunt Roz recently passed away. She was the one who made the “chopped liver” for the Jewish holidays. I was at her home once when she was preparing the pate and I got to see firsthand how she made it. I only remember butter, onions and livers. I didn’t have the foresight then to know how important it is to to write down family recipes. So, left to my own devices I’ve created a recipe that I think works.
Saffron Pickled Shallots
I reproduced Bobby Flay’s saffron pickled shallots, which he serves with one of his small plates Mussel and Clam Salad topped with saffron pickled shallots at his restaurant Gato. It’s absolutely delicious! I thought what a great way to top the chicken liver pate in addition to the grated egg white and egg yolk.
After my mother-in-law passed away many years ago, my sister-in-law and I split the Seder and Rosh Hashanah holidays. As the shiksa (a non-Jewish woman), I opted for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. No real restrictions on the menu, other than tradition.
One year I strayed from that tradition. I guess you could say that many years I’ve been known to add something untraditional into the menu. But, in the early years, I researched the holiday and found that sweets were “traditional.” I did know not to put raisins in the Challah, which would make my father-in-law, Sam, upset; but it never occurred to me not to use sliced apples (a traditional Rosh Hashanah ingredient) for the pate instead of crackers or bread. A tart, crisp Granny Smith apple is a great foil for the rich pate.
Well, my father-in-law pulled my husband over and said to tell me not to do that again. Chopped liver went on crackers! I never served apple slices again, but it is an interesting and delicious way to diversify the pate.
So, thank you Aunt Roz and Sam for setting me straight on the ABCs of chopped liver!
- ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
- 2 cups sliced onions
- 1 pound chicken livers, cleaned and rinsed
- ¼ cup Cognac
- 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- grated egg white
- grated egg yolk
- saffron pickled shallots
- Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.
- Stir in the onions and cook until the onions begin to brown on the edges.
- Pour in the cognac, stir to release the brown bits in the pan.
- Add the chicken livers, herbes de Provence, salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until the livers are slightly pink in the center.
- Scoop this into a food processor and puree.
- Place in small ramekins, chill and serve with thin slices of brown bread, crostini, crackers or apple slices.