Smooth Operator – Another Chicken Liver Paté

Smooth Paté (1 of 2)If you have read my piece on hospital food, you should be interested in this post. In some of the comments (online and off) about my best efforts at recreating a 1970s recipe for chicken liver paté, there was an implied criticism. “More like a tureen.” or “Are they pieces of livers in there?” or “Have you ever done a smooth one?” left me with the impression that while you all loved my efforts, you might have had a different view if you had to eat the stuff. 

So with the feedback taken onboard and the constructive commentary absorbed, I am preparing a simple Chicken Liver Paté with Thyme. Like with so much of the stuff I am doing recently, it comes with a very short ingredients list. Everything, except the butter is in the photograph.

Smooth Chicken Liver Paté

The star of the show is the half kilo of chicken livers.

Here’s what you will need;

  • 500 grammes of chicken livers
  • 150 grammes of butter
  • 3 cloves of garlic (i am using one ‘single clove’ bulb instead.
  • 2 good-sized shallots
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper
  • Half the thyme you have been lovingly growing on the windowsill
  • A good glug or two of brandy

Side note on measurement;
You  can take one of two approaches to measurement in dishes like this.
Approach 1: Slavishly jot down the wisdom of some person who in turn jotted it down from somebody else and make something pretty much identical to what they did.
Approach 2: Read a few recipes and decide what might suit your palate and that of your friends and family. 
You can guess where I am on this. 

First thing to do is to cut the extraneous bits off the chicken livers. I will leave that to your imagination in this post. It is the gory bit and I am trying to be a ‘Smooth Operator’ after all. Next, fry them with the bay leaf in a generous slice of butter.

Smooth Chicken Liver Paté

I can only protect you from so much. You have to see the livers frying in hot butter.

While this is going on, chop the shallots nice and small and take the thyme off its stalks.


A pretty sedate shot of the shallots being sliced. There are no more gory bits.

Place the livers in a food processor when they are lightly browned on the outside but not cooked completely through. Season them.

Smooth Chicken Liver Paté

The processing will help make it smooth and acceptable to the more discerning palate.

Let the livers cool while you fry the onions and garlic until soft, adding the thyme leaves at about half way.

Smooth Chicken Liver Paté

These add great flavour to the paté. Don’t rush this bit.

Just before they are done, add that glug or two of brandy to the pan.

Smooth Chicken Liver Paté

Keep your eyebrows out of the way while you flame off the brandy.

Add this to the processor and blend until smooth. Scrape the stuff off the sides of the food processor and blend again. Blend again for good luck. This needs to be smooth.  Just like in the world of fashion, achieving smooth takes a lot of hard work. In the case of the Smooth Chicken Liver Paté, the hard work is in forcing it through the sieve.

Smooth Chicken Liver Paté

You have no idea how much work goes into pressing this stuff through the sieve with the back of a spoon.

Spoon it into ramekin dishes. You will note I had enough to do a big and a small. the big is enough to feed a small family for a week. The small is enough to make you embarrassed that you ate it all yourself.

Smooth Chicken Liver Paté

Pour some clarified butter over to preserve the pate. This works a treat, BTW.

Refrigerate overnight and serve to your more sophisticated acquaintances with the Toast Melba I showed you in the other paté post.

Chicken Liver Paté

The smooth operators amongst you will love this Chicken Liver Paté.

Maybe I am just that bit less sophisticated than the rest of you. I really enjoyed this. It is a top quality paté by any standards. But, I preferred the less refined pate I cooked before. Maybe that says more about me than I say about the paté. Try it. You will enjoy it.

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Latest comments
  • Horses for courses. I love smooth pates, my husband likes ’em chunky. This looks great and I’m impressed with your dedication in forcing it through the sieve. Do you stuff mushrooms? 🙂

    • Believe it or not, I have never stuffed a mushroom in my life. Another thing to look forward to…

  • Deliciously retro food! When I finished college (1970’s) chicken liver paté was in its ascendency. For a long time I lived on chicken livers–they were so cheap! But this is marvelous, and a reminder that we should still visit treats of yore. I can’t remember the last time I saw this on a menu–or was offered it at a dinner party. Good post. Ken

    • Thanks Ken. It really is very tasty and pretty easy to prepare. I remember when it used to be paté to start, steak for the main and ice cream to finish. Them was the days!

  • Pate seems to be making a comeback–at least here in Baltimore and back home in Pittsburgh. Every farm-to-table/sustainable eating place offers a homemade pate.
    I love pate and chx livers are so insanely cheap! I am definitely going to try this and take a look at your other pates as well. I don’t mind chunky. Speaking of which–have you done chopped liver in addition to pate?
    It is some good stuff.

  • That looks delicious 😉

    • Thanks MD. Another of the simpler recipes that is well worth doing. IMHO.

  • I prefer creamy pate but some “chunky” pates have been really good. Except the chicken liver I had in Firenze. I think all they did was boil up livers and chop them up. I had to add a boatload of salt to eat it. Very weird. This however looks delicious and makes me think about trying it myself.

    • I have to suggest that you do. It really was pretty excellent, or so the Wife assures me.

      • I’m the only one that likes pate in my household. Strange I know! But I could do a small one. 🙂

  • Love it. This is how I normally do a pâté but after your hospital food post I tried the chunky style with some livers I’d saved from our last duck kill. It was outrageously good!! Damn yeah.

  • In general terms I do prefer smooth pate over the chunky kind, but then again I haven’t tasted your version 🙂 I like the short list of ingredients.The sieving bit is easier with a foodmill if you have one. I don’t have the patience to do the spoon and sieve thing 😉 Nice pate!

    • The food mill might be device that gets between myself and the Wife. I was forced to do a big clear-out of ‘useful devices’ recently. A bit soon to be arriving home with new stuff.

  • It’s been ages since I”ve enjoyed chicken liver paté and miss it. This sounds delicious, Conor, and easy to prepare — except for the sieve part. I’ve done it before for other recipes and there’s no fun in that. Still, what’s a smooth operator to do? Thanks for sharing your recipe, Conor.

    • Thanks for your kind words and empathy John. I suspect anybody who has not done this really does not know the effort that goes in.

  • One of my seven sins sure can be gluttony if you present me with this beauty I refuse to call retro! Ms Cholesterol would rap me on the knuckles but praise me for the home cooking part. ‘Glug of brandy’: don’t be so disrepectful to good old Hennessy cognac 🙂 !

    • In my younger days, I worked on the Hennessy account here in Ireland. Certainly everybody in the agency talked with great reverence about the cognac. I have since visited Cognac and toured the Martel and the Hennessy distilleries. I have to admit, I prefer a decent Irish whiskey most of the time….

      • Hennessy [with some stars if I remember from childhood} was my father’s favorite cognac: i love Courvoisier. Irish whisky: well since I nearly married an Irishman, kind’of got to know the brands well 😀 !

        • The regular was the 3 star. The 5 star was usually outside reach. My reach anyway.

  • Conor, your Paté looks scrumptious! I can easily access to livers over here. Will try out your recipe to go with my bread 🙂

    • Great stuff Danny. Please post about it. I would love to see the difference (and the bread).

  • This looks great! I never thought of making my own paté before but you make it look SUPER simple. I’ll have to try!

    • Hi Echo,
      It really is simple and very worthwhile. Do give it a go and do please post abou it. I’d love to see the results.

  • Whoa, there’s definitely a lot of effort that goes into making this — that sieve part alone! — so I commend you. I do enjoy a nice schmear of pate on a cracker now-and-then, so I can appreciate your hard work.

    • Hi Tommy, All the hard work is in the sieving. Apart from that, it’s just good fun.

  • i bloody love a good chicken liver pate!! i shall be trying this this weekend with some red wine. YUMMMMM!

    • Hi Trisha, Please post it. I would love to see the result.

  • Very nicely done, Connor. I’m still not overly fond of pate. 😮

    • Perhaps if I were to do one with eleven different chilis?

  • I tried this smooth, velvety awesomeness in some southern restaurants 🙂 But seeing your recipe, I guess it’s not hard at all to make it in my kitchen.
    Loved reading every single word and sentence of your post 🙂
    And the pictures ! – To die for 🙂

    • Thanks Nusrat, I enjoyed photographing this one. It was one of the first days this year (a couple of months ago now) that we had good natural light in the kitchen.

  • So different from the recipe I follow. With thyme and garlic and shallots and all that butter there is no doubt I will make it.
    Loving your photos too!

    • The butter does give one pause for thought. Short pause, but pause all the same.

  • this looks absolutely beautiful! I was given 10 pounds of grass fed beef liver by a friend whose father raises cattle (I’m the only American who eats liver). I happily made pate all winter with it. But I am far to idle to push it through a sieve – and then have to clean the sieve! I didn’t have any cognac or brandy, so used marsala wine, which made it a little too sweet for my liking. Going to have to get a bottle of brandy.

    • I never thought of doing a beef liver paté. Interesting thought indeed.

  • The classics never fail. You can never have too many pâté recipes. Delicious.

    • Thanks Alice,
      You had fallen into my spam filter. I rescued you this morning!

      • Thanks! If only you could click it and hear the Monty
        Python gang in the background. Would be far more entertaining… 😉

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