18 December 2010

Orange & Thyme Chicken Liver Pate

Who can believe it is only 1 week until Christmas.  Most certainly time to get in to the festive spirit and some Christmas goodies cooking so a bumper weekend of cooking and baking coming up.  Being half way around the world from family I will be spending it with friends in Te Puke, fellow foodies so it will be a feast to remember.

Te Puke is in the Bay of Plenty over on the East coast and famous for kiwi fruit. Captain James Cook was the first documented European to visit the area and he named the area the Bay of Plenty as he thought it looked well populated and very fertile.  A combination of the climate and soils in the area has always made Te Puke a popular area for horticulture.  The first orchards planted were apples, pears, oranges, lemons and grapefruit. And eventually a few Chinese gooseberry.  During World War Two, American serviceman in New Zealand were introduced to the Chinese gooseberry and enjoyed it so much that this encouraged more plantings. In 1952 the first exports were made, and in 1959 the name “Kiwifruit” was introduced. Since then kiwi fruit have flourished in the area, the kiwi fruit capital of New Zealand you could say.

So in preparation for Christmas feasting let the cooking begin!  First up a new variation on my pate.  Giving it a little festive flair with a little splash of Cointreau and some orange zest. 

Orange & Thyme Chicken Liver Pate
250g fresh chicken livers
60g butter, divided in half

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 tsp thyme, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup Cointreau

1/4 cup cream

Salt and pepper


Clean the chicken livers and trim out any sinew.
Heat half the butter in a frying pan and add the onion, garlic , thyme, bay leaf and season well with salt and pepper - don't be shy with the seasoning.  Cook slowly over a low heat until all cooked down and could be easily mashed with a fork (except the bay leaf). Remove the bay leaf and put the onion mixture in to a food processor.
Reheat the saute pan with the remaining butter. Add the chicken livers and season well. Cook gently until the livers are just pink in the centre, but be careful not to let them brown.  Using a slotted spoon, add the livers to the food processor with the onion mixture.  Add in the zest of the orange.
Increase the heat, add the Cointreau.  Let it bubble up for a minute or 2. Put everything in to the food processor. Season again, yes again it does need it I promise. With the food processor going, slowly pour in the cream. Process for a good 4-5 minutes until the pate is very smooth, scraping down the sides to make sure it is all combined. You really do want a lovely smooth pate.
Spoon the pate in to serving dishes, I like to use 2 to 3 little pottery bowls that can just be taken straight out the freezer, defrosted and then they are ready to go straight to the table.  Cover the top with plastic wrap, carefully push it down on to the surface to completely seal out the air, refrigerate or freeze. 
This time around I also decided to top and protect with a little clarified butter.  Simply melt the butter over a low heat without stirring and let it cool.  Carefully spoon off the clarified butter leaving the solids at the bottom of the pot.
Smooth, decadent and with a lovely citrusy sweetness from the Cointreau and orange zest. Serve it up with some crunchy crostini or some fresh crusty bread. it will certainly make for a tasty little nibble on Christmas day.



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