Monday, December 31, 2012

chicken liver pâtè and pickled cherries

no doubt you've resolved to start eating better or you're about to begin some new fitness regimen for the new year. that's all well and good, and you should (although you look great now!). but maybe there's still room for pâtè in your newly virtuous life. 

even if there isn't, if you act fast you can have it this year. or it will still be there in february when you start backsliding (well, not you. other people who lack your willpower).

plus, even if pâtè isn't your thing, you should still make the pickled cherries because they are good in other stuff. like... sandwiches? on a cheese plate? even (stay with me here) over ice cream (maybe that's too much)? 

these are stupid-easy and well worth your time. i used frozen cherries, because pitting them is not fun and i didn't have time. however, i think they suffered a bit in terms of texture (they're a little soft, though still totally good), so if pitting cherries is your jam, by all means use fresh.

above are the spices used - crushed red pepper, cloves, coriander seeds, and star anise. mix these, 1/3 cup sugar, 2/3 cup red wine vinegar, and 1 cup of water and bring it to a boil. let it boil for 30 seconds or so, then pour it over a pound or so of frozen cherries.

you actually should probably do this in a more heat-proof container, but the glass jar worked for me. then just refrigerate for a day or so (or at least a couple of hours). delicious! they look very pretty when you put them in a bowl with some of the star anise pods.

they are also a good match for the pâtè. somehow the unctuously rich pâtè goes extremely well with the sweet & sour juiciness of the cherries. they cut the richness a little and add some texture to the whole thing.  

if you've never made it, pâtè is probably a bit daunting. however, it's actually quite easy and cheap to make and tends to be pretty impressive as well, making it a home run for dinner parties or fancy cocktail snacks.

unfortunately the first thing you have to do is clean the livers. gross, but necessary. get all of the weird sinewy things and other stuff out of there. then heat some butter in a medium/smallish pan over medium heat until it begins browning. add chopped shallots and four sprigs of thyme and cook them for a minute or so. then add the livers and some salt, pepper, allspice, and brandy. cook everything for 7 or 8 minutes or until the livers are still just a tiny bit pink in the middle.

let things cool, take out the thyme, and blend with a little cream in a food processor until it's very smooth. if you want it to be more rustic, you can serve it as-is, but i think it's better to press the pâtè through a mesh strainer to ensure that it's smooth. it only takes a minute to do and it's much better - just use a spatula to press it through.

you can serve it immediately or (preferably) let it sit in the fridge for a little bit to let the flavors meld. it's great with crackers or little toasts or the like. adding some cornichons or other pickles to the mix is not a bad idea either.

even if your new year brings resolutions of better living, i hope there's room in there for a little bit of indulgence once in a while. moderation in everything, right?


pickled cherries:
1 pound frozen or fresh sweet cherries
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon whole cloves
5 whole star anise pods
1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
1/3 cup sugar (can use more - this will not be terribly sweet)
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup water

5 tablespoons butter
4 sprigs of thyme
2 medium shallots
1/2 teaspoon salt
12-15 grindings black pepper
1/4 teaspoon allspice
3/4 pound chicken livers
2 tablespoons brandy
1/2 cup heavy cream

1 comment: