Bistro Pâté

bistro pate-3

Bistro Pâté

Pâté is one of those dishes that seems quite exotic and costly but is in fact super easy and inexpensive to make. Of course there’s no need to tell your guests that, it can be our little secret.

serves 6-8
250g (9oz) butter
2 medium onions, peeled & diced
500g (1lb) chicken livers
1-2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1. Melt butter in a small saucepan.

2. Transfer a few tablespoon of the butter to a frying pan and cook onion over a low heat for about 8 minutes or until onion is soft but not browned.

3. Increase heat to medium, add livers and cook, stirring frequently for 5-6 minutes or until livers are no longer pink in the middle.

4. Remove 100g (3.5oz) melted butter from the saucepan and reserve for topping the pâté.

5. Place livers and onion in a food processor with the melted butter left in the saucepan. Add sherry vinegar and whizz for a few minutes until pâté is very smooth. Taste and season with salt and a little more vinegar if needed.

6. Pass pate mixture through a fine sieve. Divide between serving bowls.

7. Top with remaining melted butter and refrigerate until butter is set.

Leftover Potential?

Wonderful. Will keep in the fridge under the butter for 1-2 weeks. Once the butter seal is broken best to eat within a few days. Freezes really well. Just pop the containers with the pate in plastic bags and keep in the freezer. Just defrost and it’s ready to serve.

Variations for Serving Sizes

You could easily double or triple the recipe. And you could halve or quarter it but with chicken livers so cheap, I think it’s best to make extra and freeze for another day.


different livers – feel free to use other livers such as duck or pig.

creamy – replace 50g (2oz) of the butter with heavy or double cream – just add cream to the food processor stage.

vegetarian – try a mushroom pate – replace livers with sliced mushrooms – cook until well browned and tender. Skip the sieving unless you’re super keen for

dairy-free – I really think that pate needs the butter. But you could cook the onions and livers in olive oil and then use about 1/2 cup olive oil to whizz into the pate. And skip the butter to ‘seal’ the top and make sure you use your pate within a few days.

Problem Solving Guide

no sherry vinegar? – replace with rice or other wine vinegar.

no chicken livers – you may need to get your butcher to order them in for you or try a specialist poultry butcher. The won’t be expensive and are well worth the effort.

bland – add a little more salt and a splash of vinegar.

grainy texture – if you didn’t sieve the pate, then that’s the problem. But if you did sieve and the texture is still coarse it means your chicken livers have been over cooked. Whizzing with a little cold cream may help the situation. But next time check the livers earlier or use a lower temperature.

Serving Suggestions

Pate loves toast or crusty bread. Or crackers. If you’re in a healthy mood, celery sticks are good.
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  • My mom used to make a similar pate when I was a kid. The recipe called for currents to be added and a bit of cognac. The currents add a bit of sweetness for those who aren’t keen on liver. This recipe reminded me to make this again!

  • I used to add pork liver to spaghetti sauce and chili to give my kids that extra boost of iron. I used pork liver because I read that on a liver scale chicken was the least iron and pork was the highest.

    I know we worry about liver because we’ve been told that the liver is where we store the pesticides etc. Recently I read an article that suggested that it is true the liver is where we process the pesticides, emphasis on ‘process’ and that once processed they are excreted through the urine and/or feces. They said this was true of animals as well and that they had tested animals who grazed on pesticide full land and animals who were grass fed on clean pasture and the amount of pesticide in the liver was pretty much the same. Just a thought. Also don’t really know if it’s true.

    • Ooh I’ll have to get some pork liver from my farmer Miriam – I hadn’t thought to check the iron levels of different types of liver.

      And interesting thoughts re pesticide residues in liver. To be on the safe side I perfer to stick with grass fed liver from my local farmer instead of risking factory farmed meat.

  • I love pate, especially with terrific bread. I’m completely intrigued by the lunch suggestion in today’s email -pate on kale salad with nuts, and sauerkraut! This sounds like Mom’s clean out the fridge lunch to me. If you aren’t pregnant, how did you come up with this, if I may ask?
    I have 2 growing teens, so this is not a carb free home, but I love trying new flavor combos.

    • Yay for pate Murphy!

      No I’m not pregnant which is lucky because pate isn’t recommended for pregnant ladies.

      It wasn’t that crazy an idea. My usual lunch is some sort of salad leaves with poached eggs or sardines. So I just subbed the pate for the protein. Normally I would add some extra fat (mayo or olive oil) but didn’t need to with the pate. I add nuts to everything and in this case the walnuts were really needed to give some texture to the soft, smooth pate. And the sauerkraut is another regular addition to my lunches but it works well to add freshness.

      You should try it! If you’re not a fan you could always use it as a sandwich filling 🙂

  • okay, it worked, the pate congealed overnight in the fridge and was able to pour butter on top. Will find out in a few hours how they both taste….

  • Jules, my first attempt at the chicken liver pate is really runny and i’m afraid to put the butter over it right now. I’m serving it tomorrow evening. I’ve decided to let it sit in the fridge overnight and add butter in the morning. Thoughts?

    I also made the a mushroom version. It was nearly impossible to get through the sieve. Wondering if i need to cook longer next time? Or maybe a better food processor? I made both the liver and the mushroom at the same time, strange that they turned out the exact opposite texture.

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