I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus, as I’m sure you can tell. This summer has been…weird. Not that I haven’t been cooking, but not much really. But it looks like my life is returning to something resembling normal (whatever that is) so I’ll be updating more regularly. I’ve got a handful of things queued up here, photos and all, so it should be a fun ride.
July’s Challenge was Binding. Meaning mousselines, terrines and headcheese. It was also July so as tempting as the head (or feet!) cheese sounded, I was not going to subject my ill-cooled apartment (and self) to that process. Instead, I stuck with the Apprentice challenge and found a recipe for a Chicken Liver and Shallot Terrine. Yeah, it turned out pretty well, even if it was a surprising amount of food. I halved the recipe and it filled a 1.5 quart terrine mold. So there we go. Next time I’ll quarter the thing and have a manageable amount of pate. Too much of this batch had to be tossed. Never again!
I sourced everything from the farmer’s market, as usual. Ingredients like offal are better bought at the farmer’s market, I think. Like with most meat from local, sustainable farmer, it just tastes better. These livers were so rich and meaty. Not that pâté is known to be a light dish to start with, but these livers had deep flavor I haven’t tasted in conventional organ meats.
That said, holy crap this is a rich pâté . So many livers! So many shallots! So much butter. This is not a health food, but it’s damn good. The shallots give a nice sweetness to what could otherwise be an overwhelmingly rich dish. I plan on making a smaller amount of this for parties–it’s definitely an entertaining dish. Consumed with some nice wine and good bread and conversation? Perfect.
But enough of the talking! More food porn!
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 10 medium shallots, coarsely chopped
- 5 tablespoons Cognac
- 3 sticks (3/4 pound) plus 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at cool room temperature, cut into tablespoons
- 2 pounds chicken livers, cleaned
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar with the water and simmer over moderate heat, without stirring, until an amber caramel forms, about 8 minutes. Add the shallots and stir well, then add the Cognac. Cover and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the caramel dissolves and the shallots are soft, about 10 minutes. Spread the mixture in a large dish and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
In a large skillet, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter. Add the chicken livers and season with salt and pepper. Cook over high heat until firm on both sides and deep pink in the center, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the livers and their juices to a shallow dish and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate the livers for 20 minutes.
In a food processor, combine the livers with the shallot mixture and process until pureed. With the machine running, gradually add the remaining 3 sticks of butter until thoroughly incorporated. Strain the puree through a fine sieve set over a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Line a 4-cup terrine or loaf pan with sheets of plastic wrap, leaving a 3-inch overhang all around. [PROTIP: Moisten the container before putting in the plastic wrap to help the wrap adhere] Scrape the puree into the container and cover tightly with the overhanging plastic wrap. Refrigerate until very firm, at least overnight and for up to 5 days. Unwrap the terrine and turn it out on a platter. Serve chilled, with cornichons and sourdough toasts or country bread.