Thursday, March 15, 2012

Pork Liver Pâté: Made Two Ways

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Pork liver pâté loaf with pickled asparagus and mustard
I am going to have to stop asking Peter to go by our favorite local butcher shop alone, Shawn's Quality Meats & Smokehouse.  He will always head out the door with a list in mind of things to get and without fail he comes home with 2 - 3 times as much of nearly everything.  This last trip he went there for 1 pound of pork liver for his homemade Cajun Boudin sausage (I promise I will start getting his recipes and techniques posted here soon) and he came home instead with 7 pounds of pork liver.  7.  Sheesh.

Pork liver pâté mini loaves, fresh from the oven
I can't use all 7 pounds up but here are 2 recipes that make me glad he did get some extra.  The first is for a pâté that is like a meatloaf, cooked in a terrine in a water bath and then chilled overnight before serving.  Don't worry if you don't have a terrine to use, you can cook this dish in just about any kind of loaf pan or baking dish you would like, including mini loaves.  I prefer doing this in mini loaf pans because this is one item that is eaten mostly by Peter and I.  We do not need a large amount and the mini loaves let me create small servings that I can freeze to enjoy later.  In this pâté the liver flavor is very mild but it adds that extra something to make the dish.  Serve it with a stone ground mustard, pickles and a wedge of good bread.

Pork liver pâté mousse, liver and onions all dressed up
The second  pâté is more of a mousse and the liver is the star.  It is smooth and spreadable and a little bit goes a long ways.  The liver is paired with caramelized onion, brandy and cream to create a rich treat.  Put the pâté mousse into freezer safe canning jars and top it with clarified butter or ghee, shown above.  You can then store it in the freezer.  Just thaw it the night before in the refrigerator and it will be ready to spread on a crispy cracker as is or alongside some pickled onion jam the next day.

Pork Liver Pâté Loaf
Pork shoulder or butt is the main ingredient here. The shoulder needs to be ground very coursely or you can even hand chop the meat if you prefer. Ask your butcher and they will gladly course grind it for you. The pink salt adds a lot of flavor and keeps the pâté a bright color after it is cooked.
  • 1 lb 6 oz course ground pork shoulder or butt
  • 6 oz pork liver
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tsp pink salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp marjoram
  • 3 small bay leaves

  1. Carefully clean the pork liver, being sure you remove any connective tissue. Add the cleaned 6 ounces of liver to your blender or food processor and puree until the liver changes to a lighter color and is smooth. Pour this into a large bowl.
  2. Measure out the 1/2 cup of white wine. Add to the wine the salt, pepper, garlic and marjoram and mix well. Add this to the liver and stir until combined.
  3. Add the ground pork to the liver mixture and stir until very well combined. Don't worry about over mixing this - it is very important that everything is well combined and the flavors are evenly incorporated.
  4. Pre-heat your oven to 325 (F) for one baking dish or 300 (F) when you are using smaller baking dishes.
  5. Evenly divide the pâté mixture into all baking dishes you are using - all into one, or split it between more than one. Smooth the top and place a single small bay leaf in each dish. For single dish pâté place the 3 bay leaves along the middle of the dish. Cover the dish(es) with tin foil.
  6. Move the baking dish(es) to a large roasting pan and fill the roasting pan with lukewarm water that reaches 3/4 of the way up the sides. I find this is easier to do if the roasting pan with the dishes is already in the oven first, then just add the water there otherwise too much sloshing happens.
  7. Bake for 1 - 2 hours until the internal temperature is 150 (F). Let the loaf cool on the counter for several hours and once it is room temperature move it to the refrigerator. Chill overnight before serving.
  8. Loosen the loaf from the pan by running a butter knife around the edges and then invert it onto a platter. Turn it over so that the bay leaf is showing. If you are struggling with getting the loaf out you can carefully run hot water around the edge first for a minute to help loosen things up. Slice into 1/4 - 1/2 inch pieces for a single serving.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 1 large dish or 3 mini dishes

Pork Liver Pâté Mousse
This liver pâté mousse works great with chicken and beef livers as well if you do not care for or do not have pork livers on hand.
  • 1 lb 8 oz pork liver
  • 4 Tbs butter
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 2 onions, cut in half and then thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 - 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 tsp black pepper

  1. Carefully clean the pork liver, being sure you remove any connective tissue. Dice the liver into 1 inch cubes. Add the cleaned liver to a bowl and then cover it with milk. Move it to the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  2. Melt the butter and oil in a skillet and add the onions. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cook the onions low and slow until they reach a rich caramel color. This process takes a while and cannot be rushed. The more sugars that develop and the deeper the color of the onions the better they will taste.
  3. Add the garlic to the caramelized onions and stir for about a minute. Add in the liver cubes to the skillet by removing them from the milk - do not pour them into the skillet milk and all. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and fresh ground pepper then heat gently until the juice coming out of the livers is clear and they are fully cooked.
  4. Carefully add the entire contents of the skillet to your food processor. Add in 1/8 cup of brandy and 1/4 cup of cream. Puree for several minutes, stopping to scrape the sides as needed.
  5. Taste the pâté and adjust the cream, brandy, salt and pepper to your personal tastes. Puree one last time getting everything very smooth.
  6. Using a fine mesh sieve and wooden spoon or spatula, push the puree through to get rid of the grainy texture. This last step is tedious but the difference in the final pâté makes it well worth it.
  7. Traditionally this is not served until it has a chance to chill for several hours or overnight, but I like it warm. So eat it whenever you want on crisp crackers or rustic bread.
  8. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. For longer storage move the pâté to a freezer safe container and cover the top with a layer of clarified butter. Freeze for up to 6 months. Let it thaw in the refrigerator the day before using.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: about 3 cups