Helen showed up at our Christmas in July last year and won the crowd with her ultra smooth chicken liver parfait. She kindly left me a small jar of the liver parfait and not surprisingly it was gone within days. So this year, I've decided to make my own chicken liver parfait and bring it to Portland to share it with everyone.
Why parfait and not pate? I've also learned from Helen that a pate is a paste made of minced meat and fat with a coarse texture, whereas a parfait is much lighter and smoother. The act of pushing the pate through a sieve converts this to a parfait. Make sense.
It is surprisingly easy to make, only took me 45 minutes to complete the task. I bought 500 grams of chicken livers (for only $8) and yielded two big ramekins of smooth chicken liver parfait. I like them more peppery in flavour so I added lot of black peppercorns in the blending process. But the most important part of making the parfait is the sieving. Make sure you sieve the parfait at least twice until nice and smooth. There's a recipe I read from somewhere suggested to use a pair of lady stockings for the sieving process to achieve that extra smoothness. Hmm... I think I will stick to my fine sieve, thank you very much.
Trust me, once you learn how to make chicken liver parfait, I swear you will never buy from the supermarket ever again.
Chicken Liver Parfait Recipe (Makes 4 - 6 small round ramekins or 2 rectangular ramekins)
Time: 45 minutes.
500g chicken livers
500ml full cream milk
150g unsalted butter (for blending with liver)
25g unsalted butter (for cooking)
1 large eshallot onions, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 sprig of thyme
1 fresh bay leaf
2 tablespoon Olive Oil
25ml Cognac or brandy
1 teaspoon of salt
Freshly cracked pepper to taste
50g unsalted butter, melted (to seal the parfait)
Method 1. Clean the chicken livers, trim off any sinew and cut into even pieces.
2. Soak the cleaned chicken livers in the milk with the thyme and bay leaf for up to 6 hrs in the fridge.
3. In the mean time, clarify the butter by melting the butter in a saucepan under low-medium heat. The butter will separate into 3 layers, impurities on top, clarified butter in middle and milky solid at the bottom. Skim off any impurities. Gently pour 125ml of the clarified butter into a jar and set aside to let cool, discard the remainings.
4. After 6 hours, strain the milk off and retain the thyme and bay leaf, then patting the chicken livers dry with paper towel.
5. Heat a large frying pan with the olive oil, until it is almost smoking. Place the livers into the hot pan and quickly seal them for 30 seconds each side. Don't over crowd the pan, do it in batches. The liver should be firm but still pinkish inside.
5. With the same pan, melt 25g of butter, sauteed the eshallot onion and garlic until they are soft and translucent, then return the livers back in the pan with the thyme and bay leaf, pour the cognac or brandy (be very careful) and flambe to burn off the alcohol.
6. Remove the pan from heat and let the livers cool down for a few minutes.
7. Place the ingredients in to a blender with the cream, clarified butter, season with salt and pepper, then blend for 2 minutes on high until smooth.
8. Once the parfait is smooth, push the parfait through a fine sieve twice and scrape off any impurities and discard. Make sure sieve at least twice for a fine smooth consistency.
9. Add an extra tablespoon of Cognac to the parfait and mix well. Scoop the parfait into ramekins, tap the ramekins on the kitchen bench to make sure the top is as flat as possible.
10. Decorate the top with sprig of thyme and a few whole peppercorns. Then pour the melted butter over the top to make sure the parfait is completely sealed. Cling wrap the ramekins and transfer to fridge to let it set overnight.
11. For better result, leave the parfait in the fridge for at least a week to let the flavour developed.
12. The parfait is delicious served with crusty baguettes or rustic sourdough bread. Enjoy!