Spreadable Meat: Chicken Liver Pate Done Right


Making the right chicken liver pate eludes me. I tried it in the spring and failed. It was just so… livery. It involved a hard boiled egg and cream cheese and no matter how I adjusted it, it was only fit to be eaten by cats; mine was in heaven.

Over the summer, on a trip to New York, I went to Cafe Collette in Williamsburg. Chicken liver pate was on the menu. Determined that it was my fault that the pate was inedible, I tried theirs. It was exactly as disgusting as mine and in the same way: livery. As everything else that I ordered was fabulous (brussels sprouts, kale), I decided that chicken livers are just not… edible.

The following week, I went to Donkey, Stick and Table in Logan Square. Duck liver mousse was on the menu. It was ordered. It was delicious. It was the perfect spreadable meat. Smooth but stiff, all the right earthy, fleshy flavors without the pungency of a detoxifying vital organ. So was there that much difference between the fouls’ flavor, or was it the method with which they were prepared?

I’m giving chicken livers one last try. I’m using some of the knowledge of Julia Child and some other tips I found on the interwebs. Wish me luck.

Chicken Liver Pate

  • 8 oz chicken livers
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 4 ½ TB butter, cubed, plus 4 TB melted
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • ⅓ cup brandy
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • ½ tsp salt (to taste)
  • ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg)
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Drain the chicken livers of all blood and body juices and place in a non-reactive bowl. Pour milk over livers and stir to make sure all livers mix with the milk. Cover and refrigerate overnight. This will make the livers less pungent in odor and flavor. Allegedly.


Cut livers into small pieces. Heat ½ TB butter in skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and thyme leaves. Saute until the shallots are soft. Add chicken livers and continue cooking until they’re browned, with a little pink exposed. Removed from heat. Drain extra liquid and set aside. Place livers in food processor.

n the same pan used for the livers, add the brandy and reduce over medium heat until about two tablespoons of liquid is left. Add to food processor followed by the salt, spice and heavy cream. Pulse until smooth.


Add cubed butter and pulse again until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve. Pour into container, preferably glass, and refrigerate until set. Pour melted butter over the top and refrigerate again for at least four hours.


This is fool proof. It’s as stiff as the duck liver pate at Donkey, Stick and Table with all the umami needed for a spreadable meat but without all the vital organ funk. If you have a fondness for spreadable meats Germans like to package in tiny tins, you will love this.

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