Monday, June 14, 2010

Learning to Lurve Liver: Three Spice Liver Pate

And it's time again for the Daring Cooks Challenge. Our hostesses this month, Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz, and Valerie of a The Chocolate Bunny, chose delicious pate with freshly baked bread as their June Daring Cook’s challenge! They’ve provided us with 4 different pate recipes to choose from and are allowing us to go wild with our homemade bread choice.

My first inclination when I read about this challenge was to suggest we create something completely decadent -- a country duck pate with port wine, maybe? or something with beef and wild mushrooms?

But, the more I thought about it, the more I decided that we really needed to be a little bit more daring.  We knew some DC cooks, like Audax Artifex would shock us with delicacies like head cheese and chicken feet pate -- and both of those things would be awesome to tackle.  But, we knew we didn't have time for that.   What we did have time to do, however, was to confront one of Peef's most long-standing aversions:  liver.

I won't lie.  Liver has never been a particular favorite of mine either. But, I never had quite the aversion to it that Peef does. His lack of affection for beef liver goes way back -- to one evening when his mother decided to make up a batch of something that she called "little meats" (i.e. pieces of fried beef liver sliced up into tiny little steaks). According to the story Peef has told, everyone was tentatively eating their little meats ... when all of a sudden his sister stopped dead, dropped her fork, and said: "Ew. This is liver, isn't it?"  The meal was ruined from that point forward.  Needless to say, Paul has been hesitant about eating liver ever since.

So, after discussing the matter for a bit, we decided that liver pate might be an interesting way to reintroduce the concept.  We also decided to make the King Arthur French bread recipe that was included as part of the challenge, since I've been looking for a tried and true batard recipe.

The process for the bread went swimmingly -- from the poolish (starter), through two full risings, to the baking.
The bread didn't brown up quite as well as we'd hoped, but the loaves were pleasantly hollow sounding when tapped, and the crust was exquisite.
It wasn't until we bit into our first bite of freshly baked bread that we realized I forgot to add the salt!  The bread had a pleasantly wheaty and yeasty flavor... but bread without salt is a bit of a disappointment. 

Considering the bread didn't turn out quite as expected, we had high hopes for the liver pate. We decided to try the three spiced liver pate, a tried and true recipe Evelyn and Valerie had suggested. For the recipe, we were required us to purchase beef liver, pork belly, and ground pork.  The meats were chopped and pureed with cinnamon, cumin, coriander, garlic, and shallots. 
The puree was then mixed with egg and cognac and layered in a baking dish with bay leaves and bacon. Then, the pate was baked in a water bath for an hour and a half.
The pate smelled amazing when it came out of the oven -- spicy and smoky and somewhat complex. But, we managed to wait until it was cooled to enjoy it spread atop of some of our freshly baked (albeit salt-less) French bread.
Sadly, for as great as it smelled, the pate was a bit disappointing.  I thought the recipe was a bit heavy on the side of the cinnamon, and I felt I'd probably like the pate a bit better if it was made with a different combination of spices. Peef thought the flavors were interesting together, but not something that he'd necessarily seek out again.

On the bright side of things, the pate did make Peef think twice about his initial impressions of liver.  In fact,  he declared after eating his fill of the pate that I could make him liver and onions any time I wanted to!

So, the verdict?

We'll definitely be making French bread again (and adding salt next time).  And we'd love to try a different variation on the liver pate concept.  So, if you have any suggestions, feel free to send them our way!

RECIPES - June Daring Cooks Challenge
And don't forget to check out the submissions from other Daring Cooks!

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  1. Great job on the challenge, and for going ahead with the liver! Too bad it didn't turn out awesome for you - I grew up loving liver and onions, my husband, not so much - maybe I will try a liver version of pâté next time and see if I can't sway him over too!

  2. Oh, all that work only to forget the salt, I hate that & it really makes from some bland bread. I'm glad this pate has encouraged you to try others even if this one wasn't great. We've been ordering house-made charcuterie platters at a lot of local restaurants & are now thinking of trying our own too.

  3. Sounds so good! I think I would like to try making my own too.

  4. I have totally done that with the forgetting of salt! Your bread looks amazing, either way, and those KAF recipes are hard to beat! (I like to put the salt in a little ramekin right next to what I'm doing - AND write SALT in huge letters on top of the recipe...)

    I'd have to say that I'm a little on the Peef side of the fence with liver...though I'd try anything if it came from your kitchen!

  5. I grew up eating chopped chicken liver and chicken liver wrapped in bacon with apples. YUM. It was only until I left the nest, when I realized I was completely alone in my love. Oddly, I have never tried beef liver. I'm afraid if I ever had it in the refrigerator, Paul might leave me.

  6. That's funny--I forgot to add salt, too! Fortunately, I remembered while kneading, so I just kinda....sprinkled and kneaded it in. Probably not the best thing to do, but it worked! Beautiful loaves of bread!

  7. I've only had pate once at a really nice French restaurant and was pleasantly surprised to find that I liked liver! I wish I had some guidance for you on the flavor front...

    THat bread looks awesome! Major oops about the salt, but you seem to have the rest of it down pat!

  8. I only made pate once and it turned out really good. Its from Chef Michel Richard's awesome book "Happy In The Kitchen." Its called Chicken Faux Gras becauce the consistency and mouthfeel is very similar to a foie gras based pate the only meat it uses is chicken livers. I really liked the concept of the parsley gelee that covers it but I kind of think that a mix of herbs or something like chives would maybe work better.

    Here is the recipe

  9. We too aren't big fans of the liver - although don't have such a fun story for the aversion... We have not completely gone against Pate in the past, but by and large not inquired exactly what was in it. We're glad we were 'made' to try it and we weren't too traumatized with what we ended up with. However, we won't be doing liver and onions any time soon...
    Well done!

  10. Nicely done, and it looks great, too.

  11. Hey Lo, my Dad loves liver. I actually like it too, but I have mixed feelings about eating it. Being that it is the organ that handles toxins and all! I don't know...
    Your Pate looks great though! I'm sure any liver lover would be pleased...

  12. I love liver...but I opted for the chicken liver pate instead. I'm sure this was delicious also! And your bread loaves are so well-shaped! Good job.

  13. One thing you did get out of it was some amazing photos!

  14. i'm proud of you for giving liver more of a chance. try some veal liver, sauted in some butter and sage. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

  15. lo, yes, the earthy, humble mushroom is always a good thing, but the way your liver pate turned out - it was totally worth it! I'm seeing liver pates, in this challenge, that I might actually eat, and yours is one of them! Beautiful baguettes too!

  16. I love liver NOW, but little six year old Tina did not feel quite the same way. Totally empathizing with Peef right now. My Mother used to make cocktail sandwiches with this strange, soft, spreadable meat stuff inside. We had no idea what it was, but she would tell us that it was our "Special FWAH Mini Sandwiches". Little did we know that 'fwah' meant....'foie', and she was feeding us liver pate. As soon as my father spilled the more sandwiches for us.

  17. I grew up eating liver. Pate, chicken liver sauteed with a ton of onions, etc. I think the key is to add enough other flavors and also to buy very fresh liver.

    I've never cooked it though :)


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