Monday, June 1, 2009

Chicken liver parfait

Terrine making is a huge labour of love, one which I'm fixated with, and when in the mood have assembled some great combinations to last through the week. Late night munchie snacks have never been more rewarding than a slab of pâté, fridge cold, spread onto a thick wedge of hot toast. This wonderfully rich chicken liver version is delicious with a sprinkling of rock salt and black pepper, on fresh hot toast of course. Please don’t baulk at the amount of booze used in this recipe. It makes a big difference to the end result - and all the alcohol boils away in the cooking.

100g shallots, peeled and finely diced
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1 bunch thyme (6-8 sprigs), tied
150ml dry Madeira
150ml ruby port
75ml white port
50ml brandy
400g chicken livers
1½ tsp sea salt
4 eggs
400g unsalted butter

Place the shallots, garlic, thyme, Madeira, ruby port, white port and brandy in a bowl. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 24 hours. Place the livers in a bowl of milk, cover and leave in the fridge overnight to reduce the bitterness.

The following day, bring the marinated shallot mixture to the boil, then reduce it until there is no liquid left; do not let it catch or burn.

Preheat the oven to 150c/gas mark 2. Drain the chicken livers, rinse and pat them dry. Trim them, place in a bowl and add the salt. Put the livers on a plate and leave to warm to room temperature. Crack the eggs into a separate bowl, cover with cling film and, again, leave to warm to room temperature.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan. Remove the thyme from the warm shallot reduction, and place the reduction, together with the chicken livers, in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the eggs and blend again. With the food processor still running, gradually pour in the hot melted butter. Keep processing for a good five minutes for a smooth pâté.

Pass the blended liver mix through a fine-mesh sieve and pour into a terrine dish that comfortably holds 500ml. Place on an oven tray with high sides and pour hot water into the tray until it reaches the same level as the liver mixture in the terrine dish. Cover the terrine with foil and place the tray in the oven.

After 20 minutes, check the parfait by carefully agitating the terrine: it should be set at the edges, but still wobble slightly in the centre. If it is not ready, put it back into the oven and continue to check regularly. (If you have a probe, the internal temperature should be 65c)

Once ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool. Leave to set for about half a day in the fridge before serving.