Allyson Gofton - Pate to Perfection

Publish Date
Friday, 1 August 2014, 12:00AM
By Allyson Gofton

Pâté for most of us means chicken liver, but technically the word pâté – a French word – means paste and thus refers to the texture. Pâtés can be made with meat – and other ingredients – so long as they are finely ground and well kneaded together. A good amount of fat s required for both texture and taste. A Pâté de Campagne refers to a coarser style pâté, Pâté en Crôute means the pâté should be enclosed in crust, or at least served with some of the crust in which it was cooked. On the other hand a terrine – smooth or coarse- should be cooked in, served in, or be cut from a terrine dish - normally earthenware .

Tips for Perfect Pâté

  • Fat is important, as it gives the pate a mousse-like texture. Butter is often used with chicken livers, while pork fat is used in meat pâtés. Make sure the fat is good quality with a fine taste; avoid margarine.
  • Flavour the pâté well; salt, pepper, herbs, spices can all be sued. When served cold, the flavours will be less pronounced so adjust for this.
  • Alcohol adds another flavour layer, though if the pâté recipe is simple – such as chicken liver – do flambé the alcohol to reduce the harsh alcohol flavour. In long cooking meat pâtés,  this step is not essential.
  • Pâtés will benefit from one or two days in the refrigerator before serving.. This allows the flavours to marry together.
  • Do not serve pâtés straight from the fridge. Their flavour will be more appreciated if removed from the fridge some time before serving; about 30 minutes.
  • Serve pâté simply -  French bread, butter and gherkins on the side.

Chicken pâté

Serves: 8-10 as a nibble

1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 rasher steaky bacon, chopped
25 grams butter
500 grams chicken livers
1 teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon cracked or ground black pepper
¼ cup sherry or brandy
¼ cup cream
50 grams butter, softened


  1. Gently fry the onion, garlic and bacon in butter until tender but not brown.
  2. Increase heat, add the chicken livers, allspice and black pepper and cook stirring for 4-5 minutes until the livers are browned but still pink inside. Cool well.
  3. Puree in a food processor or blender with sherry or brandy until smooth. Pulse in the cream and butter and turn into serving dishes. If wished, cover with a layer of melted, clarified butter. Refrigerate until required. Use within 3 days.
  4. Serve cold with hot, crisp toast and pickles.

Cooks Tips:

  • Chicken livers and all other offal need to be cooked within 2 days of purchase.

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