Interested in trying something new for this new year? Why don’y you give this liver pate a try.
While my liver pate recipe may prove the old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” to be true, the flavors are delicious. I knew I was on to something when both of my sons asked for seconds and then thirds. A little momma victory moment there. They actually wanted more of what I would consider one of the healthiest foods out there.
Rather than going with the typical savory approach for the pate, I used warm spices of cinnamon and nutmeg to lend a slight sweetness to the liver. The combination of the shallots and the apple compliment the saltiness of the bacon. Plus, bacon! Bacon added to anything makes it taste like heaven, right?
The very first time I made chicken liver pate I followed Sally Fallon’s recipe in Nourishing Traditions. In her recipe she uses vermouth or wine to deglaze the pan. Well, I didn’t have either so I reached for the Applejack (apple brandy) that was collecting dust in my pantry. It added a nice twist to the flavor compared to what wine would have added. I decided that the apple brandy was the way to go.
The next time I made the pate, I made it up as I went adding in the apples to compliment the apple brandy. I switched out the savory thyme and mustard and added in the cinnamon and nutmeg and I loved it! This is how I have been making it now for the past two years.
Apple brandy was something I discovered a few years back when a recipe I was making called for it. I used it, and then forgot it.
Time for a brief history lesson.
Apple brandy has an interesting story. Arriving on the scene even before bourbon, Applejack was so popular that the colonists used it as currency back in 1600’s. These resourceful colonists took cider, which was made by fermenting apples, and let it sit in barrels outside and freeze. As the cider froze in the barrel, the alcohol would be left in liquid form. The ice (frozen cider) was removed and the remainder was a concentrated apple brandy. This process was called “jacking” and, hence, the name Applejack. Laird & Company was the first distiller to produce the ever so popular apple brandy back in late 1600’s.
I love history especially when it revolves around food and drinks!
Back to the pate. I understand that organ meat, especially liver, has a strong flavor that may of us find repulsive. Liver always made me think of liver & onions on restaurant menus. Who the heck orders that? Well, I was determined to find a way that my family and I could eat liver. After some experimenting, this pate is one of the few dishes we all enjoy.
Let’s pause for a little nutrition lesson.
Are you wondering why you should consider eating liver? According to Weston A. Price children as well as adults (men and women) during childbearing years should consume organ meats regularly. Not a child? Not planning on making any babies? Well, you will still benefit form eaten liver and other organ meats. Organ meats are sources of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as high concentrations of the B vitamins. Liver will also provide you with trace elements such as copper, zinc, chromium, and iron.
When you are sourcing your liver, try to find a quality source preferably from a pastured or grass-fed animal. Living in Los Angeles, we have access to a few different sources of grass-fed meat. My personal favorite is Buy Ranch Direct, which I can easily get at my local farmers market. I have played around with different livers such as chicken, bison, beef, and lamb. While the lamb liver probably has the mellowest flavor and surprisingly doesn’t taste like lamb, the bison liver is my favorite.
I encourage you to experiment and see which liver you like the most for your pate recipe. Remember; don’t judge the flavor of this recipe by the picture. I struggled making it look good for the pictures but the flavor far surpasses its appearance.
- 1 lb liver, cut into 2" pieaces See Note
- 3 slices bacon, thick cut
- 1 apple, chopped
- 2 shallots, minced (1/3c diced red onion can be substituted)
- 2 tsp cinnamon, ground
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg, ground
- 2 oz Applejack (apple brandy) See Note 2
- approx. 3 tbsp butter, softened to room temperature
- approx. 2 oz cream or coconut milk if using coconut milk, use canned whole fat
- salt & pepper
- In pan over low-medium heat, slowly cook bacon until bacon is somewhat crispy and fat is rendered.
- Remove bacon from pan and set aside to cool leaving bacon fat in pan. Once cool, chopped into 1" pieces.
- Warm pan containing bacon fat over medium heat. Add in chopped apples and shallots. Season with salt. Sauté the apples and shallots until tender. If pan is too dry, add in some butter to supplement the bacon fat.
- Add in the liver to the apple mixture and cook until lightly browned on outside. The inside may remain slightly pink. The liver tends to cook quickly so be careful not to overcook.
- A few minutes before you think the liver is done cooking, add in the cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook for about one minute until spices become fragrant.
- Deglaze the pan with the apple brandy (or broth or ACV).
- Remove pan from heat and let cool to room temperature.
- In food processor (or blender) with blade attachment, combine the live mixture with the softened butter. Start with 2 of 3 tbsp. of butter first. Blend the liver and butter until smooth. If mixture still looks chunky, add remaining tbsp. of butter.
- Add in cream until mixture reaches desired consistency. I prefer mine creamy but not too thin so it is easy to spread on toast and hold its shape. I usually get mine to a hummus-like consistency.
- Stir or blend in bacon to pate mixture. If you want to keep bacon pieces intact, fold in bacon with a spoon.
- Season with salt and pepper.
Note 1:You can use any type of liver you prefer from a pastured (grass-fed), if possible, animal. Chicken liver pate is probably the most common. My favorite is currently bison liver. Lamb liver is also quite tasty and tends to have less of a "liver" taste for those easing their way into organ meat.
Note 2:I really like the taste that the Applejack brings the to apple, bacon, liver combination but you can use other alcohols if you prefer or you can substitute in broth or even apple cider vinegar. If you allow the alcohol to cook for a bit, the alcohol content with diminish if not dissipate completely.
Happy New Years! Enjoy!