01 August 2011

Chicken Liver Pate

I was flicking through my Gran's old copy of the Scottish equivalent of the Edmond's cookbook, The Glasgow Cookery Book. I thought I would start at the beginning with appetisers, which according to the Glasgow Cookery Book:
"There is a wide variety of foods which are suitable for this course.  They should stimulate  the appetite and should, therefore, be well flavoured and attractively presented"
Suitable foods would be smoked salmon, caviar, oysters, melon, grapefruit and parma ham.  And not to forget that delightfully retro classic the Florida Cocktail, a mixture of grapefruit and mandarin segments sprinkled with sugar, placed in glasses and topped with a maraschino cherry, yes a maraschino cherry.

Hors d'oeuvres are also suitable as an appetiser:
"These consist of a selection of 4 or more suitable foods served in separate dishes or compartments of a an hors d'oeuvre tray.  The food should be neatly prepared and well flavoured."
"The food is moistened with a suitable dressing such as French dressing or mayonnaise"

All so terribly prescriptive and proper.  I do love the old school home economics tone, it reminds me of an old, somewhat scary, home economics teacher from school. And of course everything must be "suitable", it just wouldn't do otherwise.  I am however not such a fan of the extensive use of margarine.  Why when you can use butter, that tastes better and is better for you?

In amongst the "suitable" appetisers was Chicken Liver Pate.  The recipe consisting of chicken livers, margarine, salt, pepper, shallot and brandy, optional.  I just cannot get past the margarine, so I give you my version of Chicken Liver Pate.  I was in the mood for completely savoury so I have added some anchovies and capers to the mix.

Chicken Liver Pate
350g fresh chicken livers
70g butter, divided in half

1 small onion, or half a medium onion,finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 tsp thyme, finely chopped
4 anchovy fillets
2 tbsp capers
1/4 cup brandy, optional

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, and season well with salt and pepper.  Cook slowly over a low heat for a few minutes and then add the anchovies and capers.  Cook until the anchovies have dissolved and everything is all cooked down and it could all  be easily mashed with a fork. Place the onion mixture in to a food processor.

Reheat the saute pan with the remaining butter. Add the chicken livers and season well with salt and pepper. 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.
Increase the heat, add the brandy. Let it bubble up for a minute or 2. Put everything in to the food processor. Season again with salt and pepper. 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 want a lovely smooth pate.

Spoon the pate in to serving dishes, I like to use 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. 

Serve on crusty bread or crostini with a little chutney. This batch of pate was rich and creamy was wonderfully savoury with the addition of the anchovies and capers.

Next up in the Glasgow Cookery Book is soups and there are lots of soups.  Though I think I will pass on Tripe Soup or Sheep's Head Broth.  So I will leave you with the pate while I find out what Cheshire Soup and Bonne Femme Soup are!




  1. Mairi, I had a home ec teacher just like you described:) And I love browsing through old cookbooks.
    Your version of Chicken Liver Pate sounds delicious, especially as I adore both capers and anchovies, and abhor margarine.
    Looking forward to the soup recipes (and yes, please skip the head broth and tripe soup:)

  2. You can't beat a good pate. I have a Delia Smith recipe I always use, but this sounds great so I will save it to try!

  3. A friend of mine prepared a while ago a very similar paté, delicious ! In his version, he has flambé the preparation before pulsing it in the mixer. A very tasty nibble !

  4. @Lana
    Thanks Lana, love old cookbooks too. I got Mrs Beeton's Cookery Book for my Birthday & must at least try some of the recipes!

  5. @Ruth
    Thanks Ruth, I will have to check out Delia's, never come across a Delia recipe that doesn't work. :)

  6. @Vanille
    Thank you Vanille, not too sure of my flambe skills in the kitchen!

  7. The old school books are the best, I have an original Mrs Beeton and a few from my Gran too. Love pate bur haven't made it in years, anchovies sound a good idea.

  8. Gotta say, I am glad you didn't use the margarine! Sounds beautiful - I've never been brave enough to try making pate but this does sound nice and straightforward. I love reading old cookbooks, aren't they wonderful?

  9. Which edition are you cooking from Mairi?

    There's a lot less margarine in the new edition!

    Glad you enjoyed the recipe.

  10. Looks yum and the whole set up picnic-style very appealing...


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