Liver is one of those things that most people balk at the thought of eating. It has a very strong flavour and, well, it’s offal. Our less affluent forefathers weren’t quite so squeamish about what they ate and happily chowed down on all parts of an animal – inside and out.
Before supermarkets, fridges, takeaway restaurants and cars, we had less access to different types of food. This forced us to eat what was locally produced and made sure that we didn’t waste food. Organ meats were cheap and nutritious and were incorporated into many meals. Think steak and kidney pie, haggis, black pudding and lambs fry.
Many of these dishes have become trendy again and can be seen on menus in gastropubs and top restaurants but the average Joe on the street does not consume these foods on a regular basis (if ever).
This is a real shame because organ meats are highly nutritious and very cheap to buy. As we have become able to buy pretty much anything we feel like eating just by popping to our local shop or picking up the phone, we have lost our taste for many of the foods that our ancestors prized.
Liver is a great source of vitamin A, iron, zinc and the B-complex vitamins, in particular B12. Calves liver is many times higher in nutrients than your standard cut of beef. The nutrients in liver can improve the health of our immune system, our nervous system, our cardiovascular system and our reproductive system, not to mention that vitamin A is also an antioxidant.
So have I convinced you yet? Are you chomping at the bit for a tasty liver treat? No? Well this delicious Chicken and Rosemary Paté recipe might just tempt you.
Chicken and Rosemary Paté
Makes 10-12 lunch-sized servings or 16 entrees
500g chicken livers (or duck livers would work too)
1L good quality milk (optional)
1/2 cup duck fat (can also use chicken fat or ghee)
1 red onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup brandy
2 tbsp dried rosemary
125g softened butter
30g melted duck fat (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1. Rinse your chicken livers well and then drain.
2. Place them in a bowl with the milk and leave in the fridge for several hours or overnight. This step is optional but helps to reduce the ‘livery’ flavour somewhat. If you’re not keen on liver, I recommend taking the time to do this step.
3. After soaking your livers, rinse again and drain.
4. While the livers are draining, heat your oil in a frying pan and fry the onion until soft and translucent. This seems like a lot of oil, but trust me, you need this for a moist paté.
5. Once the onions are soft, add the chicken livers and garlic to the pan. Turn the heat down to medium low. You’ll find the chicken livers give up a lot of liquid – just keep simmering away until most of this is gone. The livers will naturally start to fall apart during this process. Note – there will still be a fair bit of oil in the pan and it can be difficult to tell whether the liquid is oil or liver juice. Keep an eye on it and when the liquid seems to have reached a point where it will no longer reduce, then you’re ready to go onto the next step.
6. Add the brandy and rosemary and continue simmering until most of the liquid has cooked down again.
7. Allow the mixture to cool slightly and then throw it in your food processor with the softened butter. Process until smooth (or until it is a consistency that you like).
8. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
9. Spoon into a dish or individual ramekins and pour over the melted duck fat. This step is optional but helps to keep the paté moist and fresh in the fridge.
10. Pop the paté in the fridge to set it. Remove about an hour before serving to take the chill off.
Serve with sourdough bread and homemade pickles. Also a tasty addition to a cheese and fruit platter. Bring to a party to impress your host!
The paté will keep for up to a week in the fridge or can be frozen.
by Mel Duncan