Made after traditional French fashion, this Chicken Liver Pate (Pâté de Foie de Volaille) is rich, creamy, and deliciously indulgent! Perfect for entertaining, it will add a touch of class to your dinner party or special gathering. This Chicken Liver Pate recipe is easy to make, keeps for several days and can even be frozen for up to a few months.
What is Pate?
Pâté (pronounced pah-tay) is a classic French dish that is a rich and creamy spread or paste made from finely ground or pureed ingredients. The French term pâté refers to paste or dough and originally referred to a mixture of ground meat, fat, and seasonings, that was encased in pastry. Over time the term expanded to refer to a broad range of pureed spreads made from various ingredients. Pate is often considered a gourmet or specialty food item and is a versatile spread that can be paired with a variety of accompaniments like fresh herbs, pickles, mustard, or sliced fruits to both enhance the flavor and brighten its presentation. It is commonly enjoyed as an appetizer, hors d’oeuvre, or as part of a charcuterie board.
Liver pâté is made by combining cooked liver, in this case chicken liver, with butter, cream, seasonings, and commonly brandy or cognac. The mixture is blended until it is very smooth and creamy, chilled until set, and then typically served at room temperature spread on bread or crackers.
While France is credited with popularizing pâté, other culinary traditions have similar preparations for finely ground or pureed spreads such as terrine in Italy, liverwurst in Germany, and chicken liver mousse in the Middle East.
How to Serve Chicken Liver Pate
Chicken liver pate can be served in a variety of creative ways. Here are a few ways to serve chicken liver pate:
- Bread or Crackers: Spread it on slices of bread, baguette, or crackers. You can can serve it on either plain or crusty breads depending on your preference.
- Crostini: Prepare small toasted bread slices, top them with a dollop of pate, and garnish the with fresh herbs (such as a sprig of thyme, parsley or chives) for a simple yet elegant presentation.
- Canapés: Use small, bite-sized bread rounds as a base and top them with a dollop of pate. Enhance the flavor with additional toppings like cornichons, sliced olives, and a sprinkle of paprika.
- Charcuterie Board: Serve a ramekin of this pate alongside an assortment of cured meats, cheeses, pickles, and fresh fruits for a varied and visually appealing spread.
- Sandwiches or Wraps: Spread the pate on bread slices or wraps as a sandwich filling. Add other ingredients like tomato, lettuce, roasted red peppers or caramelized onions.
- Stuffed Vegetables: For an elegant and low-carb appetizer, hollow out vegetables like mini peppers, cucumber cups, and cherry tomatoes and fill them with some pate.
- Garnish or Accompaniments: Enhance the presentation and flavor of the chicken liver pate by including garnishes and accompaniments like fresh herbs, pickles, roasted peppers, caramelized onions, and condiments like mustard, onion jam, chutney, or cranberry sauce.
Feel free to experiment and get creative with your presentation and accompaniments!
How to Prepare the Chicken Livers
Chicken livers need to be properly cleaned and trimmed before cooking them. They have connective tissues that are tough and fibrous and can negatively impact the texture of your pate.
To remove connective tissues from chicken livers:
- Rinse the chicken livers under cold water.
- Lay the chicken livers on a clean cutting board and inspect them for any visible connective tissues, fat, or membranes.
- Use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to trim away any connective tissues, fat, or membranes. Connective tissues are whitish or translucent in appearance. They can be on both the surface of the livers as well as inside so inspect them as you’re cutting the livers into smaller pieces for more connective tissues. Note: You won’t be able to remove every trace of them. A small amount remaining is perfectly fine.
- Once you have removed the visible connective tissues, rinse the chicken livers again under cold water and pat them dry.
Optional: If you want to take some of the edge off the liver and give them a milder flavor, soak the livers in milk for about an hour. Then rinse, drain, and proceed with the recipe.
Can You Freeze Pate?
Yes, you can freeze chicken liver pate to extend its shelf life. To do this:
- Make sure the pate is completely cooled and then chill in the fridge for at least an hour to allow it to fully set before freezing.
- Unless you plan on serving the entire amount all at once, divide the pate into smaller portions so that you can thaw only what you need.
- Wrap the pate in plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil and then place in freezer ziplock bags, removing any excess air to prevent freezer burn. Label with dates. Chicken liver pate can be frozen for up to 3 months.
- When you’re ready to use it, let it thaw in the fridge overnight. This slow thaw is important for retaining the right texture.
- Freezing liver pate can slightly alter its texture by causing some separation. You can address this by gently stirring the pate once it’s thawed to reincorporate the separated fats.
Chicken Liver Pate Recipe
Note: Goose and duck livers are also commonly used for making traditional French pates. Feel free to use either of those if you prefer. However, chicken livers are generally much easier to find and are also less expensive.
To get the pate extra smooth you’ll need a high-powered food processor. (This Cuisinart food processor is my work horse in the kitchen.) Alternatively you can use a high-powered blender. (This Vitamix is my other kitchen work horse.)
- First we need to trim and clean the liver. See above under “How to Prepare Chicken Livers” for details.
- In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat, add the shallot and garlic and sauté until softened and lightly golden, about 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken livers, thyme, and spices to the skillet and cook the livers until they are browned on the outside and just slightly pink on the inside, about 4-5 minutes per side. Be careful not to overcook them or they will become tough.
- Add the brandy or cognac, and deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up any browned bits. Let it simmer for one minute.
- Transfer the contents of the skillet to a food processor or high-powered blender and add the remaining butter and the heavy cream. Process or blend until very smooth and creamy. Add more salt and pepper to taste and, if adding any more, pulse/blend the mixture again. If you’d like to take the additional step for an even smoother texture, press the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve.
- Transfer the pate to ramekins or a serving dish. To prevent oxidation and preserve color you can pour a thin layer of melted butter over the top to create a seal until ready to use.
- Refrigerate the pate for a few hours, preferably overnight, to give the flavors adequate time to meld and to allow the pate to fully set.
- When ready to serve, remove the pate from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving to allow it to come to room temperature. See “How to Serve Chicken Liver Pate” above for serving and garnishing ideas.
Chicken liver pate will keep in the fridge for up to one week. See above for freezing instructions (“Can You Freeze Pate?”).
For the very best flavor and texture be sure to follow the step to allow the pate to chill for at least several hours and then to let it come to room temperature before serving.
For more elegant appetizers and hors d’ouevres be sure to try our:
- Pistachio Lemon Cheese Balls
- Smoked Salmon Spread
- Black Olive Tapenade
- Pork Rillettes
- Havarti Dill Corn Cakes
- Chanterelle and Goat Cheese Crostini
Chicken Liver Pate
- 8 tablespoons quality unsalted butter , divided, room temperature
- 2 shallots , (can substitute a small onion), peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 pound fresh chicken livers , trimmed and cleaned (see blog post section "How to Prepare Chicken Livers")
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
- 2 tablespoons brandy or cognac (optional but traditional for flavor)
- 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Optional: To take some of the edge off the livers and make them milder in flavor, soak the livers in a bowl of milk for one hour, drain, rinse and pat dry, then proceed with the recipe.In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat, add the shallot and garlic and sauté until softened and lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken livers, thyme, and spices to the skillet and cook the livers until they are browned on the outside and just slightly pink on the inside, about 3-4 minutes per side. Be careful not to overcook them or they will become tough. Add the brandy or cognac, and deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up any browned bits. Let it simmer for one minute.
- Transfer the contents of the skillet to a food processor or high-powered blender and add the remaining butter and the heavy cream. Process or blend until very smooth and creamy. Add more salt and pepper to taste and, if adding any more, pulse/blend the mixture again. (If you'd like to take the additional step for an even smoother texture, press the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve.)
- Transfer the pate to ramekins or a serving dish. To prevent oxidation and preserve color you can pour a thin layer of melted butter over the top to create a seal until ready to use.Cover and refrigerate the pate for a few hours, preferably overnight, to give the flavors adequate time to meld and to allow the pate to fully set. When ready to serve, remove the pate from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving to allow it to come to room temperature. See "How to Serve Chicken Liver Pate" in blog post for serving and garnishing ideas.