Sometimes I wonder if my infatuation with eating animal guts and “less desirable cuts of meat” came from my deep yearning to gross out my friends when I was a kid. Ask any gut-eater and they’ll tell you that it was literally a sport when he/she was a child. I don’t know what it is about us. We’re wired that way, I guess. To this day, Katrina gets squeamish watching me slide raw oysters into my mouth.
If you listen to the show, you know the story of how my mother would collect snails in our garden, to be cleaned and cooked as an appetizer. We may have been poor, but that didn’t keep us from eating escargot. When I would see the reaction she’d receive from my sisters when they were brought into the house, it was more fuel for the fire for me to want to eat those slimy little slugs.
But then I wonder if it’s just the simple fact that I like it. These things seem safely approachable to me. They’re readily available, and when prepared correctly, taste more “gourmet” than most foods we consume on a regular basis. Trotters, feet, tongue, cheek, livers, kidneys, heart, gizzards, whatever you want to serve me – cook it right, add the right herbs and a little butter, and I’ll eat it. Not only that, I’ll fawn all over it (and you too, if you’re not careful).
There’s nothing that rings true to the heart of this more than pâté, especially chicken pâté. When prepared correctly, these cooked and whipped livers are rich, bold, creamy, meaty, and delicious. And if you want to know what I think of when I think of solid gourmet cooking, this hits the mark for me. It’s inexpensive to put together, dead easy to prepare, and can be made days in advance for use at your next party, or picnic.
1 pound chicken livers
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 cup onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
1 teaspoon salt
8 twists of freshly cracked black pepper
2 shots of brandy
Preparation is a snap, and your kitchen is about to smell like a little slice of French heaven.
Melt the butter in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over low heat, add the onion and garlic, stirring often until soft, say about 5 minutes. Add all of the herbs, salt, pepper, chicken livers and cook until livers are cooked outside but still pink when cut open, about 8 minutes or so.
Here’s the fun part. Crank the heat on high. Add the two shots of Brandy and cook for one more full minute, then remove from heat. Allow this to cool for 10 minutes.
Smell that? That’s heaven.
When it’s cool, pour the entire thing into a food processor and puree until smooth, then transfer pâté to a small bowl or ramekin. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to chill for 2 hours. Serve with crackers or crusty bread. If you’re making this in advance, cover and chill in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.