If you don’t like the taste of liver, specifically chicken liver, you may want to flip back to the sports or opinions page. This recipe was spurred on by a comment from a friend of mine on social media. I asked on our cooking channel what our viewers might like to have me grill, cook or smoke in a cooking video. His comment was “chicken liver.”
Knowing the comedic tendencies of this friend, I confirmed with him that in all actuality he despises chicken liver. But, undeterred, I decided to move forward with this recipe. I’m really happy we did because I now have another delicious appetizer to serve around the holidays. Let’s get started.
SMOKED CHICKEN LIVER PATE WITH BOURBON
1 pound chicken livers
1 large yellow onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
4 tablespoons of your favorite bourbon
Salt and pepper to taste
Capers and chopped red onion
Crackers or baguettes
Maybe I was a little harsh at the beginning. I’m told that pate is made properly, even people who don’t like the flavor of liver will enjoy this rich appetizer. Pate originated in the European region in the Middle Ages. It was a way to efficiently use all parts of a slaughtered animal. The irony is the dish is now considered quite high brow.
I set the smoker to 150 degrees. In the meantime I cleaned the livers of all fat and tubular appendages. I peeled the onion and quartered it. I placed the onion and the livers on a cookie cooling rack and placed them on the smoker for one hour. In a cast iron skillet I melted one stick of butter (keep the one-half of the stick to the side) and added the smoked onion, the crushed garlic and the thyme. I sautéed over medium high heat until the onions softened a bit. I then added the livers and the thyme, cooking until the livers were cooked through, as the time on the smoker simply added a smoky flavor — it didn’t cook them. That took around 8 to 10 minutes. After the livers are cooked, take a piece of bread and dip it in the butter, taste it, and judge how much salt and pepper you need. Now add the bourbon and pull from the heat.
Let the livers and onion cool mixture cool off a bit, then dump it all into a food processor, processing until you have a smooth, pasty consistency. Transfer into ramekins and smooth over the top of the pate. Clarify the remaining one-half stick of butter (lots of videos on how to clarify butter are online) and spoon the clarified butter over the top of the flattened pate. You only need around 1/8 of an inch of butter on top of the pate. When the pate chills the butter hardens and creates an edible lid, which helps keep the pate moist. Pate is considered to be in its best form when served at room temperature. Serve with capers and chopped red onion on a cracker or baguette and enjoy!