Learning the true cost of making a good pate

I will never forget the first time I made my own pate. Back in 1984, I was attending day 1 of a 3-day course in the art of just such ability. Yes, an entire 3 days of pate – making! But remember that pate is an all-consuming word to include not just a meat based delicacy, but parfaits and terrines of game, salmon, mackerel, mushrooms. However, this day 1, was to be traditional liver-pate ideas and I returned to my trusty bicycle with Tupperwares full of glorious kinds to place in my beloved wicker basket. And they were gone. Both of them. Bike and basket. Should have put me off pate- making forever, but it didn’t. I still enjoy making them, but never forget that lost basket and trusty steed.

My main tip for making your own pate is that with so many of my ideas and recipes, it is not a fine art. There are so many variations that simply enhance the basic idea. Nothing is right or wrong, just have a go and practice and see what pate you like the best, based on…

In a large frying pan fry a couple of finely chopped onions until soft but not brown. Now the chicken liver (a product definitely not for the faint -hearted or veggies out there). About 400g needs to be washed, dried and any ‘sinewy’ pieces pulled off. Then add it to the soft onions and gently cooked for about 8 minutes, until cooked through. No red left please! A good glug of brandy or sherry or even red wine now goes in and salt and pepper to taste and a grated garlic clove or 2, plus some fresh thyme or frankly any other herb you like. Now a glug of about 100 ml double cream. Simmer.

(To be honest this is a super dish on its own served piled onto some celeriac mash with some mangetout and baby corn on the side). But that is not what we are doing today!

The cooked livers and their divine sauce now need to cool down and then placed into a food blender and blitzed for a couple of minutes until completely smooth. Sorry, but this recipe really needs a proper blender or a hand held one will do. I cannot imagine how much mashing with a potato masher or fork would be needed to smooth it out! Then pour the creamy meat into a dish and pop into the fridge to cool. Then simply spread onto my oaties for a delectable little canapé. Remembering the sill of last month’s ,f you can!!!

If you want a really rich (and fattening) pate you could always melt some butter and pour over the cooled pate. Then allow that to set. Cutting through thick butter into the pate. Yoh! High days and holy day only methinks.

Alternatives are to use pork livers for a pretty strong tasting rustic pate or half pork, half lamb to tame it down. Duck liver makes a sublime pate especially if sieved after blitzing; however they are quite difficult to obtain. But admittedly my favourite.

Another idea is to put the cooked blitzed pate into an oven proof dish, fork the top up and bake again in the oven for 30 minutes, cool then serve, giving a nice crispy rustic texture and possibly more wholesome piled onto crusty bread or ciabatta for lunch, with a big pickled onion!