Friday, April 18, 2014

Grammie's Liver Pate

Yes, I know that you don't like liver.  Yes, I understand that you had a nasty encounter with liver as a child and it was gross.  Yes, I understand that you want to skip this recipe entirely, but don't.  Really.

When I was a child, I really hated liver.  I hated liver and onions, and I especially hated chicken livers in a garlicky wine sauce that my Mom used to make rather often.  I didn't like the flavor and I didn't like the texture.  Totally gross.  However, at every holiday and family get together, I used to eat this grayish brownish stuff called pate which my Grammie used to serve as a filling for celery sticks.  I mean, I REALLY LOVED this stuff.  Sometimes, I'd eat the celery sticks as fast as Grammie could fill them, and she would laugh and say to me, "You love your Grammie's cooking, don't you!"  I did.  And my Grammie, too.  The best part was taking a pate sandwich and half a stuffed artichoke to school the week after Easter.  That was total bliss. I was probably 10 or 12 before my cousin Ethel told me that the delicious pate was actually made with the dreaded liver!  No matter, what is delicious is delicious, even if it is made with liver! (In case you're wondering what the other kids thought of my lunches, well, they didn't think much about them at all, because half the class ate precisely the same way.  The other half of the class ate things like bologna on white bread, and desperately tried to trade their gummy sandwiches for one of ours on delicious scali bread.  No way!)

This recipe is extremely quick, economical and simple.  Many years ago, my grandmother was a housekeeper for a rather well-to-do Jewish doctor.  He loved her cooking, and she would cook for dinner parties for him from time to time.  She learned how to make all the yummy Jewish delicacies like matzoh ball soup and chopped liver.  This recipe is what happens when you add an Italian to chopped liver!

I haven't made pate in a couple of years, but I'm making it this year.


1 large onion, chopped fine
1/4 lb salted butter
1 lb chicken livers, cleaned well
1 lb whole milk ricotta
1/4 C finely chopped toasted walnuts
salt and pepper to taste

Toast the walnuts (I do mine in the toaster oven), chop and set aside. Clean the chicken livers well and remove every last bit of silverskin, gristle or fat.  Leave them whole.  Melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet, and saute the onions until totally translucent and soft. Add the chicken livers and saute until cooked through, but not dried out.  A tiny bit of pink in the center is just right.  Salt and pepper everything in the skillet to your taste.  Transfer the contents of the skillet to a food processor and whiz until completely smooth.  You may have to do this in two batches if your processor is small. Remove the contents of the processor to a large bowl.  Add the walnuts and the ricotta and mix well.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Serve chilled, with paprika sprinkled on top.

Note:  I've made this so many ways....  You can add a clove of garlic and a splash of brandy to the onions while they are sauteing.  Also, one hard boiled egg can be added to the processor.  Add herbs that you like, though I really like this best in it's simplest form.


juslokin said...

I always loved this growing up, and then Ethel let me help cook. I had no idea that it was liver all those years. Still a favorite every Thanksgiving.

Denise Babineau Norman said...

Hello, Juslokin! We must be related - are you a B St. kid?

Elizabeth said...

My recipe is almost exactly the same, EXCEPT - mine calls for no walnuts, and the addition of more chicken fat and chopped hardboiled eggs.
Love you!
Dr. Elizabeth

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