Around Christmas time I always make a chicken liver parfait. It’s completely divine, and so worth making if you have the time, but it is involved – there are eggs, there are reductions, there are bains-marie and there are deeply disappointing repercussions should it overcook. This version, on the other hand, couldn’t be easier or more delicious and, provided you have some lovely chicken livers to hand, comes together in minutes instead of hours.
Use a sharp knife to trim away any connective tissue or sinew from the livers. They should look smooth, plump and red. Season the trimmed livers all over with salt and pepper and sprinkle over the thyme leaves.
Set a medium heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add 20g of the butter and, when it’s hot and bubbling, add the shallots and garlic. Fry, stirring regularly, for 6–8 minutes until the shallots are soft but not coloured. Turn up the heat to high and add the seasoned livers. Fry for 30 seconds on the first side, flip them, and do the same on the second. Add the port to the pan and allow it to bubble and quickly reduce by two-thirds. Add the cream to the pan and once it begins to bubble and thicken, tip everything into a blender and purée until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the remaining butter in small chunks. The heat of the livers will melt the butter and it will emulsify into the other ingredients. Season the mixture well with salt and pepper, then pass it through a fine sieve into a clean bowl. You may need to use the back of a spoon to help it through. Transfer the mixture to a bowl or, if you like, individual ramekins and place in the fridge for at least two hours to set.
Take the pâté out of the fridge 30 minutes before you intend to serve it. Spread it thickly on warm toast, season if you like, and serve as it comes, or with pickled cucumbers or blackberry jam.
- 300g very fresh free-range or organic chicken livers
- 2 or 3 thyme sprigs, leaves stripped
- 125g unsalted butter
- 1 large or 2 smaller shallots, finely diced
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
- 3 tablespoons port
- 50ml double cream
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Recipe from Time. A Year and a Day in the Kitchen by Gill Meller, with photography by Andrew Montgomery, published by Quadrille.