Chicken liver and gin pâté

December 23, 2011 § 11 Comments

This Christmas we’re not hosting Christmas dinner and for breakfast my mom always makes our traditional sour cream coffee cake, so now I don’t really have anything I have to bake or cook by a deadline. So, since I don’t have any urgent cooking or baking to do for the next few days, there’s time to finally cook something I’ve been looking forward to making for ages: chicken liver pâté, or more specifically this chicken liver pâté with juniper berries and gin.

Making pâté isn’t as hard as I expected, though it probably helps that I have modern(ish) technology at my disposal; a whir of the food processor and voilà, the shallots are chopped. A few minutes sautéing chicken livers and another whir in the food processor, and the pâté is basically done. Yet the way everyone was going on about it, it was as if I were suggesting something unfeasible, and worse, not worth making!

Well, guess who ate a lot of chicken liver pâté for lunch today? That’s right, the pâté-skeptics.

Fortunately I made a lot, so it was easier to indulge in the spirit of giving this festive season and therefore share my pâté. I don’t blame them for coming around; I think the gin and juniper berries add such a wonderful wintry herbal fragrance. Even after being chilled overnight, the scent of the pâté hovering tantalizingly in the kitchen after I unwrapped it even brought the cat over to investigate, though as juniper is a type of pine I felt it wouldn’t be safe to give her any; she got some feta instead. The former critics (“offal is awful!”) at first began to eat politely, but eventually dropped all pretense and happily munched away.

As for what to do with the rest of the juniper berries after making this, try them with other kinds of poultry, including pheasant and squab, as well as game meats such as rabbit and venison. It adds an almost-floral brightness to the heavier, richer meats and is the winter spice (herb?) for me this year. I look forward to sharing more dishes using it in the New Year, along with many other recipes too.

Happy holidays everyone!

Chicken liver and gin pâté

Serves eight to ten as a starter

Adapted from Good Food


For the pâté

  • Two ounces (fifty grams) unsalted butter
  • Two shallots, chopped
  • One pound (approximately 450 grams) chicken livers, cleaned, any veins removed (will yield approximately 400 grams chicken livers), or use duck livers or a mixture of duck and chicken livers
  • One heaped teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Two tablespoons gin
  • A very generous pinch freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • About five and a half fluid ounces (about 170 milliliters) fresh cream

For the butter topping

  • Four ounces (100 grams) unsalted butter
  • Sixteen juniper berries
  • Two tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • A generous pinch each fresh ground pepper and sea salt

1. In a food processor, finely chop the shallots. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, melt the two ounces butter over medium heat.

2. Transfer the shallots to the pan and cook for five minutes. Add the cleaned livers, thyme, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally for five minutes or until the livers are just cooked through and brown, but not overcooked or rubbery. Stir in the gin and cook for an additional thirty seconds.

3. Transfer the liver mixture to the food processor and pulse for fifteen seconds. Stir in the cream and salt and pulse again until smooth (an additional fifteen seconds). Pour pâté into six ramekins (or one large shallow bowl).

4. Melt the remaining butter, either in the wiped-out skillet or in the microwave along with thyme, pepper, salt, and juniper berries. Pour butter topping over pâté(s). Chill at least four hours or until set, or ideally overnight. Serve with toasts and cornichons if you like. Enjoy!

Note: pâté may be frozen up to one month after being covered in plastic wrap and then foil. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator. It keeps in the refrigerator covered in butter for up to four days, though once the butter top is cracked I’d keep it only one day more.


–. “Duck liver and gin parfait” from “Freeze-ahead Food for Friends.” Good Food. November 2011: 104. Print.


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