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Entertaining on Christmas: Chicken Liver Pate with Cranberry Sauce

Entertaining on Christmas: Chicken Liver Pate with Cranberry Sauce

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December brings with it cold winds, hot fireplaces and the spirit of festivities. What better way to bring a smile on people's faces than through good food. While most tend to concentrate on large lunches and dinners, some shift focus towards canapes and cocktails. Short on time but still want to have people over to rejoice Christmas or simply the holidays, then invite them over for cocktails in the evening or after dinner. Hors de ouevres can be quickly whipped up to excite the palate of your epicure guests. One such December favorite of mine is Liver Pate, a classy and full bodied antipasti, served with melba toasts.

Having been a specialty of my mothers', I can still remember the smell that would emanate from the kitchen each time that she would make it. Even though she would not cater professionally, but her famous Liver Pate was ordered by many of her friends for their dinner parties. Famous throughout French and Belgian cuisine, Liver Pate can be made with Goose Liver (Foie Gras), Duck Liver, Pork Liver or Chicken Liver. Since my mother used Chicken Liver most of the time, I adopted her recipe, albeit with a twist - cranberry sauce. A combination that is perfect to serve during the holiday and Christmas season.


  • 1 kilogram chicken liver (or any other of your choice)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons gelatin
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 3 tablespoons cranberry jelly
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

#1 Best Homemade Chicken Liver Pate

Here is a super creamy homemade chicken liver pate with butter and juniper berries. Also check out my sin free chicken liver parfait! A delicious spread…

If only I had known much earlier about how to make pate at home because it is so drop dead simple! Piece of cake really. Bake the chicken livers, add extra flavors, blend it and done.

To make chicken liver pate, you need to follow some simple steps.

The 1st thing you need to do is purchase chicken livers from either the grocery store or the butcher. They can be hard to find as they are seen as a more specialised chicken product. My recommendation is to buy the free range type.

Once your livers are bought you need to drain them and pat them dry.

I like to have a set up on the kitchen bench where I lay out all of my ingredients. It makes it easy when putting everything into the pan as ingredients are measured, close by and good to go. Give it a try, it is such a therapeutic way of cooking!

The photo below shows you the ingredients I use for my chicken pate recipe. All up, we only need 8 ingredients! It might look like 7, but the salt and pepper are key to seasoning and they are shown here in the one bowl (I know, sneaky of me!)

After you have measured out all of your ingredients and you are ready to start cooking, you need to head to your stove top and grab out a medium sized fry pan.

Easy Chicken Liver Pâté

Ingredients US Metric

  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons mild oil, such as grapeseed (or substitute unsalted butter)
  • 12 ounces fresh chicken livers, rinsed (about 15 to 20)
  • 1 1/2 ounces shallots, finely chopped (about 2 French shallots or 1 medium shallot)
  • 1/4 cup brandy, preferably Cognac
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (5 oz), softened, plus more as needed (or, if keeping kosher, substitute chicken fat or margarine)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • Crusty white bread, to serve
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (optional) (4 oz)


In large skillet over medium–high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Fry the chicken livers, turning the livers occasionally and lowering the heat as necessary, until browned on the outside and still pink on the inside, 3 to 5 minutes per side, depending on the size. Be careful not to overcook the livers or your pâté will be grainy. Go ahead and slice into a liver to check for doneness.

Transfer the cooked livers to the bowl of a food processor and return the skillet to the stove over medium-low heat and add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil along with the shallots. Cook until the shallots have softened, about 3 minutes. Add the thyme to the skillet and then carefully pour the brandy into the skillet. (Use caution and stand back as you slowly and carefully add the brandy to the pan. The alcohol may ignite and flare up but will die down.) Continue to cook until the alcohol has reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Scrape the contents of the skillet into the food processor along with the chicken livers, add 10 tablespoons softened butter to the food processor, season with a little salt and pepper, and give it all a good whiz until it’s smooth. This could take up to 3 minutes. Taste the pâté and, if desired, add more brandy, thyme, salt, or pepper.

To give the finished pâté a velvety texture, use a spatula to push the mixture through a very fine sieve or, for a more rustic texture, omit this step. Transfer the pâté to a ceramic or glass bowl. If you prefer to devour the pâté straight away spread it thickly on a piece of crusty bread, such as sliced baguette. If you prefer to use it within 24 hours, cover and refrigerate it for later. If you want to enjoy the pâté up to 1 week later, slowly melt 1 stick unsalted butter in a small saucepan until the golden liquid and the white milk solids separate from the liquid. Pour the golden clarified butter onto the pâté, leaving the milk solids in the pan. The pâté must be totally covered by the butter so that it’s airtight. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Recipe Testers' Reviews

This is an earthy and delicious version of chicken liver pâté. The perfect hors d'oeuvre with a glass of Riesling. The livers took 5 minutes per side and I did cut into one to make sure it was still pink inside. I tasted the pâté after whizzing it in the food processor and added an additional 1/2 teaspoon salt. I did not push the mixture through a very fine sieve--we enjoy the rustic texture instead of a velvety texture. We enjoyed our pâté with toasts after chilling it for 4 hours so I didn't top it with clarified butter. This pâté could either be an elegant hors d'oeuvre or just enjoyed simply with a glass of wine.

How could anyone NOT try this chicken liver pâté recipe? Really, chicken livers blended with a ton of butter and Cognac? How could this not be good? Well, I made it, we ate it, and it was amazing. Creamy, flavorful, and just plain delicious on a great chunk of bread.

It was my first time working with chicken livers so there was a learning curve involved but it was worth it! After the chicken livers were in the pan for 1 minute I began to turn them and realized that they were cooking very quickly! I removed the pan from the flame to test one and felt that it was beyond pink but not "well done." I ended up cutting into every liver and all but a couple were "done." I left the two in the pan to continue cooking with only the residual heat and that worked fine. Finally I was ready to watch the miracle of food processors happen. And it did. After about 3 minutes, I stopped to taste and adjust. Salt and pepper were fine but frankly, the Cognac needed a little adjusting. I added another 2 tablespoons and processed another minute. The flavor was perfect but there were bits of the browned parts of the liver that had not incorporated into the paste. I poured all the mixture into a fine sieve and worked it through with a spatula. The final product was perfect.

I was able to fill (well, almost fill) three, four-ounce Mason jars and one more about hlfway full. The half full one was gone in 30 minutes and the other three have been topped off with the clarified butter and are waiting their turn to be devoured. I had hoped, if the recipe turned out well, that these cuties would become hostess gifts but that won't happen. I'm not a nice person.

If chicken livers are your thing, you will like this chicken liver pâté recipe. It was quick and easy to make. I packed the pâté into three 4-ounce jars and covered them with rendered duck fat instead of butter. (I know what you’re thinking--who has duck fat in their fridge? I happened to have a jar in my freezer because I had made cassoulet several months ago. So this was a perfect use for this, otherwise topping with clarified butter is the thing to do.)

This makes a lovely gift along with a small jar of cornichons and crackers. In fact, this is what I gifted a friend for a recent birthday. I saved one in my freezer for future use and then still had one left for snacking. If you happen to have a small jar of bacon jam lurking in your fridge, there is no better way to serve this pâté than with toasted baguette slices and a smear of bacon jam. (Again--I know what you're thinking--who has duck fat AND bacon jam lurking in their fridge? All I can tell you is that it was a perfect storm!)

I used Grand Marnier instead of brandy since my liquor cabinet was devoid of brandy. Other worthy substitutions could include port, Marsala, or Madeira instead of brandy. I added the booze and within 30 seconds it had flamed and reduced to almost nothing. I did strain the pâté in order to achieve a fine texture but I don’t think it’s totally necessary. You will experience a loss in volume if you do strain it. I ended up with three 4-ounce jars of pâté.


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I’ll bet this is delicious. But seriously, BUTTER with chicken livers for ROSH HASHANAH. I’ll be making mine with schmaltz, because, you know, KOSHER RULES!

Thank you for the suggestion to cover it with a layer of fat. That I will be doing, with CHICKEN FAT, aka schmaltz.

Ellen T., you’re right, of course. Over the last two decades, I have heard from many readers who celebrate Jewish holidays that they don’t always keep kosher but still appreciate the traditional recipes, which led to my thinking it would be okay to include that recipe in the grouping of Rosh Hashanah recipes. But you’re right. I should have respected those who keep strictly kosher. My apologies and my appreciation to you for calling me out on that. Wishing you a wonderful new year and I hope you do enjoy the recipe made with schmaltz.

WARNING: Photo of raw chicken livers ahead. There is no glamorous way to photograph them, so I just opened the package and took a shot. (A)

Step one

Rinse and pat dry the chicken livers and set them aside.

Step two

Gather the shallots and garlic paste. (B)

Step three

Heat a heavy sauté pan on medium heat. Add ½ a stick of butter and let it melt before adding roughly-minced shallots. Sauté for 6 minutes. (C)

Step four

Add garlic and continue sautéing for 1 minute.

So fragrant and delicious-smelling!

Step five

Take out cognac and dried thyme.

Step six

Add livers and sauté for 6 minutes. (D)

Step seven

Add cognac and thyme and continue sautéing the livers for 8 minutes. The cognac will cook off somewhat and the livers will be browned on the outside and slightly pink inside. (E)

Step eight

Transfer the contents of the pan to a food processor and process on high for 2 minutes or until the liver pate is smooth.

Step nine

Scoop the chicken liver pate recipe into a serving bowl and add other appetizers like cheese, crackers, pomegranate seeds, olives and almonds.

Liver pate is not flashy looking, but it certainly makes up for its plain looks by being sooooo delicious.

Let&rsquos look a little closer!

I hope you enjoyed this chicken liver pate recipe and make it soon.

Other popular appetizers

And as always, may all your dishes be delish!

If you&rsquove tried this recipe, I&rsquod love the know what you thought about it in the comments below. I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM and PINTERESTto see more of my delicious food and delightful cocktails!

Russian Monday: Chicken Liver Pâté With Red Wine & Cranberry Jelly

History of pâté is rooted in the distant past and many countries contest the right to be named its birthplace, however, by default, this right is held by France. In truth, French chefs have simply revived the dish loved by ancient Romans. Interestingly enough, in medieval times, pates were served as feast culmination and hence were decorated in the most luxurious fashion, often made with “surprise” inside, when live birds could fly out from inside of the dish brought into the feast hall. Often pâtés were cooked wrapped in the layer of dough, like pies. The dough was simply a wrapper and secondary to the stuffing, hence the word “pâté” has started being used only for what was inside of such pies.

In Russia pâté is very popular and served on any festive table. I would like to present my own recipe unique in its use of wine jelly. This Chicken Liver Pâté With Red Wine & Cranberry Jelly is great for your holiday table to be served with hot toasts. Bon appetite!

For more Russian recipes, visit Russian Cuisine page.

Demian Repucci content

I am a big fan of all things liver. Fried calf’s liver, braunschweiger sandwiches, dried cured pig’s liver (a la St. John Restaurant), venison liver (St. John again), any foie gras anytime (sorry). And chicken livers. Maybe it is because my parents never served us liver as kids so I am now subconsciously trying to make up for lost time. I don’t know. But I love it. And since chicken livers are pretty cheap and usually the most accessible of this offal variety I will occasionally get a hankering for a liver fix and pick some up.

I think the genus of the idea for this chicken liver pate came from having some cranberries that went unused after our Thanksgiving dinner blowout. Thinking about a berry makes me turn to thoughts of liver? Strange I know. But I have always loved the tart/sweet taste of cranberries and I was trying to think of fun ways, other than only pairing them with turkey, that I might be able to use them. And pairing them against liver popped into my head. So I got some chicken livers and put it together.

I browned the chicken livers in olive oil with salt and pepper. When they had a decent amount of color I added diced onion and garlic. When that was all cooked through I deglazed the pan with a splash of white wine and then let it cool. I put that into a food processor and added about three tablespoons of softened butter, some more salt and a splash of nice scotch. Some recipes I had read called for Armagnac or brandy but… we didn’t have any on hand. Only the wife’s collection of single malt scotch she keeps to remind her of her university days. So I used that. St. John uses Eau de Vie de Prune for their foie gras terrine which I enjoyed very much. In retrospect the scotch was not the best decision… Anyway, I blitzed it all together to a smooth consistency.

For the cranberry jam I cooked down the cranberries along with sugar, orange zest, orange juice, ground cloves and cinnamon. Because of the orange it turned out sweeter than the typical Turkey Day cranberry sauce. But upon further contemplation I should have used even more orange in an effort to push the ‘jam’ needle more toward ‘marmalade’ to keep a level of complexity in the sweet aspect of the dish.

Overall I think the idea was pretty successful. The taste profile of the liver does well when cut with sweetness of some kind. But next time I will definitely be sure to use brandy or Armagnac. The scotch ended up getting completely lost in the mix. At the very least I should have used more. A slight note of alcohol in the liver helps the taste finish well. And I will definitely use more salt. Tasting the mix when warm is much different than tasting it later when it has been chilled. More salt would have kept the flavor opened up after time in the fridge. The only other thing is that the pate was pretty dense. I’m not sure I would have folded in enough egg whites to make it a mousse… but I would probably like it to be a little lighter. Maybe that would happen with a littl more butter and alcohol. Hmmm… this chicken liver pate was very good. But I think it needs a little more time in the studio.


    • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
    • 1 cup finely chopped onion
    • 1 large garlic clove, minced
    • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
    • 1 teaspoon minced fresh marjoram or 1/4 teaspoon dried
    • 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage or 1/4 teaspoon dried
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
    • 1 pound chicken livers, trimmed
    • 2 tablespoons bourbon
    • Accompaniment: crackers or toasted baguette slices
    • Garnish: a fresh thyme, marjoram, or sage sprig
  1. Special Equipment
    • a 2 1/2-cup crock or terrine or several small ramekins

A Tuscan Christmas lunch – chicken liver and walnut paté

If I was not stuck by the snow in Pisa airport last Friday, which for me that I’m writing is actually tomorrow, I should be now in Belgium for the last day of a mini Christmas holiday, a long weekend with friends to discover a part of Europe that I never had the chance to visit before. I’m looking forward to chocolate, breweries, craft beer and a miniature tree to decorate with my friends, in a sort of early Christmas.

Today begins a special week that will lead us up to Christmas, so I could not miss the first post, the starter of a Christmas lunch, again well ahead of time. We had this special festive lunch in my new house in collaboration with Cecchi Winery, from Castellina in Chianti. Starting today and throughout the week we will present you a course per day to make an ideal Christmas lunch with friends in a house in the Tuscan countryside. Simple, local and seasonal products, traditional flavours that are reinterpreted in a festive atmosphere.

This will be a not so rich Christmas for many people here in Italy and abroad, so I truly believe that the greatest gift would be to spend the day with the people we love, around a table set up for a hearty and warm lunch, were feelings and people are way more important than things. Then it takes very little to transform the traditional Tuscan crostini neri, a spread of chicken livers and vegetables, into an appetizer that immediately sets the mood for Christmas.

Take the usual chicken liver crostini that you can find throughout the year in my house, substitue capers and anchovy paste with a generous handful of walnuts. It is universally recognized that dried fruit reminds Christmas, bingo games with relatives and rich medioeval desserts filled with heady spices. Just play around with the ingredients and make a festive chicken liver paté with a rich walnut hint.

Here’s the recipe for the starter of our Christmas lunch: we dipped down into the chicken liver and walnut paté bowl, spread it thick on soft bread slices and sprinkled some toasted pine nuts on top to decorate the crostini, then enjoyed them next to the fireplace. My grandma and mum approved the recipe, so welcome to a new family tradition for Christmas.

Chicken Liver Pate and Other Festive Food

This pate formed our late breakfast on Christmas day, together with a glass of chilled Camel Valley Sparkling Rose which we bought from the vineyard on our Cornwall trip last summer.

Camel Valley Sparkling Rose

We ate Christmas dinner around 4pm this year following Tim's night shift, but it did mean no early get-up to start the preparations. Plus it was just the two of us so no massive turkey to put in the oven at stupid o'clock.
Now anyone who knows me would know that to me, stuffing is the main event for Christmas dinner, closely followed by gravy. And for our Christmas dinner I made 4 different types of stuffing. All homemade, and all with gluten free breadcrumbs - made from the stale crusts of Genius bread and other rolls that I had saved up in the freezer. The star of the stuffing show is the lovely sausagemeat stuffing. This is based on a recipe that my Mum always makes from the fantastic Dairy Book of Home Cookery (1968 version!) and uses around 500g of sausagemeat, the same amount of breadcrumbs, "some" mixed dried herbs and an egg to bind. I like a lot of herbs, but my Mum would put her absolute maximum in of about one teaspoon. I use about 1-1.5 tablespoons! This was made with the sausagemeat from 500g of sausages that we had bought from a butcher on our trip to Ambleside.The next stuffings were the classic Sage and Onion, and two lots of Chestnut stuffing. For the sage and onion, I used both dried and fresh sage, but added the dried to the pan as I was sweating the finely chopped onion. The quantities of breadcrumbs I use for  these stuffings is vague, and I apologise, but I just used enough until it looked right. Plus in the past I have followed recipes for these stuffings, but breadcrumbs from gluten free bread seem to act differently and dry the whole mixture out so I tend to use less than stated in recipes. This sage and onion, again, was bound with an egg.The first lot of Chestnut stuffing came from the Dairy Book of Home Cookery again, and was their recipe for Chestnut cream stuffing. The mixture consisting off cooked (home roasted and peeled) chestnuts, parsley, nutmeg and cream to bind.After a brief survey of facebook friends I decided that this year I should try a chestnut stuffing recipe with meat too and plus I had found this recipe which looked quite interesting (and didn't contain sausagemeat).
The rest of our Christmas dinner included a butter basted turkey breast joint, which was rather surprisingly moist and tasty, honey roasted parsnips (which were going to be Nigella's Maple  roasted parsnips, but after seeing the crazy price of maple syrup in Morrisons, we decided on honey), sprouts for me, carrots, broccoli, M&S chipolatas in bacon (we were going to make our own, but the novelty of finding gluten free sausages as standard was too much to pass up!), Delia's bread sauce (with extra cloves) and shop bought cranberry sauce. And gravy.

In the past I have made Delia's giblet stock with the turkey giblets and I was going to try this again this year. However, after calling most of the butchers in the area, and further afield it seemed that this idea was doomed as no-one could guarantee they would have any giblets in. So, back to chicken livers again. I did make a stock for the gravy with chicken liver, thyme, rosemary, parsley, onion, carrot and celery which smelled divine bubbling away for a few hours on the stove. Alternatively I had bought in some Bisto Best gravy granules in case all had gone wrong, as they are surprisingly gluten free.
To start we had a classic prawn cocktail, and we do admit to buying the sauce. We had intended to make Simon Rimmer's sauce but after needing to buy practically everything on the ingredient list we just bought a jar of sauce! And we finished with homemade sherry trifle. This was made with gluten free cake bars, and the shortcut option of Birds instant custard powder again gluten free, and far easier than the constant stirring and pouring combination of making homemade custard.

Watch the video: Facebook Live Holiday Appetizers Dec 4 2018 (November 2021).