Saturday, January 4, 2014

Whole Chickens - Use the livers to make Liver Pate

In an effort to save money, reduce my impact and produce less garbage, get rid of plastic (especially from my food items), and eat healthy without wasting food I now only buy whole chickens (usually organic) and cut them up myself. If you don't know how to do it, just go to You Tube and find a video, it's simple as as long as you have a good sharp knife and/or a pair of kitchen shears. So much cheaper to buy than parts and gives you many different cooking options. Organic whole chickens in my area are $2.99-$3.99 per pound compared to parts which run $3.99-$7.99 per pound and I get the bonus of the bones to use for broth, neck, giblets, and livers. So, the livers. Yes, they are small and you could just fry one up and give it to your dog or cat (they'll love you for it)! Or, you can do what I them in a glass jar in the freezer.

At Thanksgiving I added my large turkey liver to the jar which I had to pack in to get it to fit and realized I needed to use these up sometime soon. The perfect time....New Year's Eve! I was invited to a couple parties and what better than to bring an appetizer of liver pate! Cheap, easy and quick to make, yet an elegant treat.

Here's my recipe (adapted from several that I've used):
1 pound organic chicken livers (or combination of chicken/turkey)
10 tablespoons organic unsalted butter at room temperature
1 small onion, sliced thinly
1-2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or rosemary (or 1 teaspoon fresh minced)
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons cognac or brandy (could use white wine as well)
salt and pepper

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat*. Add onions, garlic, thyme, bay, and livers. Cook about 5 minutes (cooked through but still slightly pink). Add 2 tablespoons cognac, salt and pepper to the pan and scrape up any browned bits. Transfer to a food processor or bowl (if you have a food wand) and add the rest of the cognac. Process livers until chopped. Add in the rest of the cognac and remaining butter 1 tablespoon at a time continuing to process after adding each tablespoon until smooth and creamy. Transfer to ramekin(s), cover airtight, and place in refrigerator. If not using right away, melt a little butter and pour a thin layer over the top of the pate before covering airtight. Keep in the refrigerator for 1 week and frozen up to 2 months.
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*Some recipes call for simmering the livers in water instead of sauteing so they don't dry out. Maybe I'll try it next time and compare.

I enjoy it on herb spelt crackers or fresh bread with a little mustard and cornichons.

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Stay tuned for more on cooking and using the whole chicken.

My Waste:
Livers from whole chickens - no waste except for the times my chicken comes in shrink wrap. I usually buy from the meat market and have it wrapped in paper which I then use as a fire starter. I suppose I could just bring a small stock pot with me to the store and have it put in there. Hmm, maybe next week. It will be interesting to see the looks I get.
Butter - wrapper goes in the trash; cardboard box gets recycled.
Onion - grown in my garden; when I run out I just buy bulk and don't use a bag (or use a cloth bag)
Garlic - bulk produce
Thyme - from my garden fresh or dried; when I run out I bring and refill a small glass herb jar from bulk containers.
Bay, salt, pepper - refill a small glass herb jar from bulk containers.
Cognac - glass jar gets recycled; plastic top goes in the trash.
Cornichons - buy in a glass jar that gets reused or recycled; plastic top is trash. I wish I could get them from the bulk olive bar. I'll have to ask.
Crackers, Bread - Tend to be the most wasteful since they are packaged in plastic trays inside a cardboard box. The plastic and box get recycled. Buy fresh bread and bringing your own cloth bag for the bread produces no waste.
Mustard - buy in a glass jar that gets reused/recycled or make your own (that's another recipe for another day)