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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chicken liver parfait recipe

chicken liver pate

I don't know what I was worried about.

Making your own chicken liver parfait -- as I soon found out -- is one of the easiest things in the world.

I brought little pots of chicken liver parfait to a Christmas in July Yulefest dinner with fellow food bloggers, a little nervous and filled with trepidation at presenting my first efforts to pate aficionados. When there was no shortage of volunteers to take home the leftovers, I knew the parfait must have tasted okay!

The only tricky part is pan-frying the livers so they're cooked but still pink, but apart from that, this is a super easy recipe that mainly requires use of a food processor, and then pushing the mixture through a sieve.

Cleaning the livers was hardly a drama either (chicken thighs are much more finicky), and the best part? It's incredibly cheap. I paid $4.30 for a kilo of livers and made 7 ramekins of this glorious stuff.

At the party, I kept calling this a pate but actually it was a parfait. What is the difference between a pate and a parfait? A pate is a paste of minced meat and fat. A parfait is lighter in texture - the act of pushing the pate through a sieve converts this to a parfait.

The most important tip for this parfait is that is tastes better with age. I made this a week in advance and found that it only got better as the days went by. The butter seal protects the parfait from spoiling, and a cover of cling film will allow the flavours to develop in the fridge.

Whatever you do, don't skimp on the sieving. Pushing the mixture twice through the sieve will make sure your final result will be light, delicate and silky smooth.

Chicken liver parfait

1kg chicken livers
250g butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp brandy
1/2 cup double cream
whole black peppercorns

  1. Melt the butter until the milky solids separate. Set aside to cool so the milk solids can gather at the bottom. The top section will be your clarified butter or ghee.
  2. Trim the chicken livers of any sinew and cut into even sized pieces and thickness.
  3. Add two tablespoons of the melted butter to a heavy frypan. When heated, add the chicken livers and cook through until just pink. Take care not to overcrowd the pan - you may need to do this in batches. Fry on low heat and move the livers around gently so they cook on all sides. The livers should be firm but pink in the middle.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, then add the brandy. Set the brandy alight to burn off the alcohol. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the livers to cool for a few minutes
  5. Transfer the livers (but not the leftover liquids) to a food processor. Blend until the livers are a thick paste.
  6. Whilst the motor is running, add 180g of the clarified butter to the livers in a slow steady stream. Continue with the double cream. The chicken liver pate should be smooth.
  7. Transfer the pate to a large sieve set over a bowl. Push the mixture twice through the sieve, discarding any sinew which remains. Do not skip this step or your parfait will be coarse and lumpy.
  8. Divide the mixture between ramekins or terrine moulds. Make sure the top of each parfait is as flat as possible. Decorate with whole peppercorns.
  9. Stir the leftover melted butter so the milk solids are all combined again. Pour the melted butter over the ramekins so the parfait is completely covered.
  10. Cover tightly with cling film and allow to chill in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours. The flavours are best developed for at least a week.
  11. Remove from fridge two hours before serving.
  12. Serve with fresh crusty bread, crackers or toasted brioche.

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30 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 7/21/2010 02:00:00 am


  • At 7/21/2010 7:51 am, Anonymous mr_gimlet said…

    you can also add some chicken hearts to the livers, though its best if they are poached first before frying. They add a really earthy flavour if you want something more robust, but I usually do a creamless pate/parfait.

  • At 7/21/2010 8:49 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    dude your parfait was soooo smooooth! i think i could eat the whole ramekin with a spoon.

  • At 7/21/2010 9:55 am, Anonymous Minh said…

    You're so right about it getting better with age! I was snacking on my stolen ramekin last night and I swear it was even better than it was on Saturday <3

  • At 7/21/2010 10:53 am, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    I've got to say I'm a pate rather than a parfait kind of person (love the grainy bits!) though I wouldn't say no to this gorgeous creation of yours!

  • At 7/21/2010 11:11 am, Anonymous kewpie said…

    sooooo going to try this, must teach myself not to read food related news /blogs at this hour of the day.

  • At 7/21/2010 11:25 am, Anonymous MissDissent said…

    I go nuts for parfait, if it's on a menu I have to order it. Yours looks light and fluffy!

  • At 7/21/2010 11:31 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It looks delicious, thanks for the recipe!

  • At 7/21/2010 12:10 pm, Blogger Hannah said…

    Thank you Helen - this is perfect in so many ways. Cheap, because I'm a poor PhD student now; yummy, because I've suddenly decided that pate is awesome despite being a bit uninterested in meat generally; and keeps well - as I cook only for me, it can be a struggle getting things eaten in time.

    Hopefully this weekend I can find some chicken livers somewhere!

  • At 7/21/2010 1:45 pm, Anonymous Dolly said…

    looks delicious.

    sadly i dont ahve any time to make it ><...

    i guess i'll ahve to opt for cheap vietnamese pork rolls hahaa.. but but its NOT chicken =(

  • At 7/21/2010 2:07 pm, Anonymous billy@atablefortwo said…

    Delicious. Yum... didn't know an extra step of sieving would make it a parfait... let alone double-sieving! :D

    I can't wait to make my own soon! Extra booze! LOL

  • At 7/21/2010 4:02 pm, Anonymous KFC so good said…

    what a gem! always wanna know the difference between parfait and pate but too lazy to find out!

    Need to invite some unwitting friends over to help... better bolt down the doors before pulling out the sieves.

    Came across poultry store in EQ market that sells duck liver by the kilo. That might give it another dimension of flavor....juniper berries... orange... ummmm...getting ahead of myself here.


  • At 7/21/2010 4:49 pm, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    Mmmm it was sooo good! I still can't believe how much cheaper it is to make it yourself. And you made it super super smooth!

  • At 7/21/2010 5:28 pm, Anonymous Jacq said…

    I've been waiting for this recipe! Your parfait was so good - I was slathering thick layers of it onto Billy's homemade bread (when it wasn't covered with truffle butter!)

  • At 7/21/2010 6:35 pm, Anonymous Forager @ The Gourmet Forager said…

    Ooh - parfait over pate then! Creamy, light & fluffy - sounds divine!

  • At 7/21/2010 8:22 pm, Anonymous thang @ noodlies.com said…

    Helen, this looks fantastic!

  • At 7/21/2010 9:17 pm, Blogger Sara @ Belly Rumbles said…

    How is that for the best recession recipe? Cheap and decadent, love that combination. Well done, looked delicious.

  • At 7/22/2010 12:33 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The recipe I use doesn't sieve, but does whip the cream separately. I like the sieving idea, though. What mine does let you do is add more booze, so if I'm making a batch for parties I do variations. Brandy and crushed green peppercorns is a classic, but we've also had pernod and dried tarragon, prunes and calvados, or any plumped-up dried fruit left over after making flavoured vodkas.

    I'm amazed again every winter at how easy and cheap these are, for what seems such an expensive deli product.

    Did you see the Australian Masterchef episode with Heston Blumenthal? where he uses something a bit similar and coats balls of it with a citrus jelly to make fake mandarin oranges.

  • At 7/22/2010 10:41 am, Anonymous Howard said…

    Awesome, can see it going well with banh mi too. Any idea how long it lasts in the fridge ?

  • At 7/22/2010 11:47 am, Blogger Brenda said…

    That does sound very easy. My husband loves chicken pate so I might just try this recipe. Thank you!

  • At 7/22/2010 9:32 pm, Anonymous Tina said…

    Thanks for the recipe. I know some pate lovers who will be demanding this now - parfait or not!

  • At 7/22/2010 9:50 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    These little pots of gold are soooo sooo good!! Oh wait.. thats butter ;) I am really digging the mature

  • At 7/23/2010 1:26 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi mr_gimlet - Ooh adding chicken hearts sounds like a great idea. I'm usually of the belief that the more cream the better. lol

    Hi chocolatesuze - Glad you liked it! I wasn't sure how it would turn out, so was glad it was such a hit with everyone :)

    Hi Minh - I had some the other night on fruit toast, and yes, it just seems to get better every day. The trick is trying to make it last!

    Hi John - Each to their own. I like a chunky pate sometimes but smooth and silky gets me everytime!

    Hi kewpie - Ha, I think it's dangerous reading food blogs any time of day. lol

    Hi MissDissent - I always have a weak spot for parfait too. At least now I know what goes in it - somewhat sobering at the amount of the butter, but that's why it tastes so good!

    Hi lateraleating - It's really easy to do. I hope you give it a go!

    Hi Hannah - I found my chicken livers in Chinatown - always a good spot for cheap fresh offal. Pate is definitely awesome!

    Hi Dolly - It doesn't taste that long to make - about twenty minutes? I definitely recommend you give it a go sometime.

    Hi billy - I was always confused about pate vs parfait too. It helps to have a large sieve, and yes, next time I would add more booze too!

    Hi KFC so good - Yes now we're all educated on the finer points of pate vs parfait. I found sieving was quite fast but I used a large sieve.

    Duck liver sounds very tasty, and I love the idea of using juniper berries and orange too. What time should I come over? lol

  • At 7/23/2010 1:35 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Stephcookie - It is super cheap to make and really not that hard. I will have to investigate more flavour variations and additions. The possibilities abound!

    Hi Jacq - Heh, I didn't even realise there was truffle butter! It never made it down my end of the table. lol. Glad you enjoyed, and I foresee a feast of parfait and caramelised onion tartlets in your future soon :)

    Hi Forager - Parfait is pretty tasty. Such a textural treat.

    Hi thang - Thanks. You should give the recipe a go. So easy yet super tasty.

    Hi Sara - It's the perfect recipe in GFC times. A hit for dinner parties and so good that you can prepare in advance too.

    Hi frandowdsofa - I did see some recipes that whipped the cream separately and those are great alcohol variations too.

    I was fascinated by the Heston Blumenthal recipe - I tried googling it but to no avail. lol. It would have been so much fun to recreate!

    Hi Howard - It would be great on banh mi or on its own. I'm not sure about how long it would last. If the butter seal is unbroken, I would say at least three weeks? Obviously once the parfait is exposed to air, it will start to oxidise.

    Hi Brenda - Have fun with it. I think you'll be amazed by how simple it is to do at home. You'll never buy parfait again!

    Hi Tina - You could always serve half of it pate-style, and the other as parfait to compare the different. Enjoy!

    Hi FFichiban - Ha, it was surprising how easily the butter blended into the butter. All you need is a rainbow. Maybe a double rainbow. All the way! heh.

  • At 7/23/2010 5:51 pm, Blogger Matt said…

    I hope you didn't have any "offal mistakes" like me on Masterchef :)

  • At 7/25/2010 5:25 pm, Anonymous Amy @ cookbookmaniac said…

    Looks fantastic helen! i bet its heaps better than the store bought stuff. i might try this recipe the next time I make banh mi thit

  • At 7/25/2010 11:35 pm, Blogger Yas @ hungry.digital.elf. said…


  • At 8/03/2010 3:32 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Matt - No offal mistakes here, just offal deliciousness. lol.

    Hi Amy - It was very tasty and so easy to do! I savoured it on crusty baguettes on supper. So good!

    Hi Yas - I hope you did! I can imagine a 1kg batch wouldn't last you long either :)

  • At 8/06/2010 10:09 pm, Anonymous KFC So Good said…

    and I DID it. I made a half batch today.

    Yes. We. can. and I even have the will power to double sieve. and it is soooo smooth.

    it is good even without aging.

  • At 9/02/2010 12:22 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi KFC So Good - I am sure your batch was amazing and the sieving process doesn't really take long at all. Not as long as your potatoes :)

  • At 12/21/2012 12:02 am, Anonymous Vix said…

    Hi Helen,

    I was looking for a simple recipe for chicken liver parfait and this one looks fab. Going to tryi it out for Xmas eve.

    I always thought the difference between pate and parfait was cream, so I have learned something new.


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