Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pate de Bicyclette Around the Corner

I just was in the mist of typing an email to my academic advisor and my gmail window showed me "Back to School"  meaning, back to the folder that I labeled "School" but this one hit me square across the face.  How appropriate?!.  I've been out of class for two whole weeks, in the midst of my third and am having one of those nervous moments where you realize something really dramatic could be just around the corner, or it could just be another silly corner with a path leading in the direction you were already going.  I had forgotten that around my next corner is three nights of classes a week, and significantly less social time.
When you start pursuing something new, work at it for a bit, and then break in pursuing that adventure; returning back can be a bit tricky.  All of a sudden I start to think, "is this really what I want to be doing?" or "what if at the end of it all, the only thing I really get out of this is making REALLY good croissants?!"  Today I am decided that even if the latter is all I gain, it will be a pretty significant accomplishment.  Onward ho around that corner.

Latest corner accomplishment has been whittling down the local preserved goods in my little Frigidaire.  My freezer is a little like a mini-GreenSugar treasure chest: hand-picked lingonberries from Alaska, some reserved bacon grease, 2 ziplocks of frozen roasted corn from last week, black walnuts from the Cap's grandparents place in Missouri, and seven little chicken livers that I've been nestling away since early last summer.

Seven chicken livers is a lot of iron.  In retrospect, I probably should have taken on this adventure with a bit more timeliness.  Regardless, 7 chicken livers felt like approximately half a pound which is exactly what my dear friend Jacques' recipe called for and what with Garde Mange class coming up next quarter, I thought it may be wise if my first liver experience was in the privacy of my very own home, rather than in class in front of Chef Pierre's gleaming eye. 

I flipped things around a bit, hoping that Jacques will forgive me.  I used fresh thyme, and lots of it, rather than dried.  Plus, I upgraded a bit with my Johnny Walker Black. Quite frankly, I've never known a frenchman to be discouraged in using fresh herbs vs. dried and good quality whiskey.

For your own personal reference, pate is delightfully portable, even when biking up 25 miles to the North Shore. *Photos are actually en route to the 4th of July Lake Bluff parade.

Pate de Bicyclette
1/2 lbs chicken livers
1/2 onion, medium diced
1 small garlic clove
1 bay leaf
2 T freshly chopped thyme
Kosher salt
1/2 c water
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 T Johnny Black
Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium sauce pan, brown livers just slightly, about 2 minutes.  Add onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme and salt and sweat onion, without browning it for 3 minutes.  Add water and bring to an easy simmer.  Simmer for about 5 minutes, keeping your livers soft to the touch- you should get a nice bounce back off your spoon.  Remove from heat and allow to stand, covered for 5 minutes.

Discard bay leaf.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer onions, thyme and livers into a food processor.  While blending, add butter, in 2 tablespoon pieces at a time so that they are evenly incorporated.  Add whiskey and process until smooth and creamy.  Season with salt or more thyme if needed.

In 3 medium sized rammekins (or whatever you may have)  coat their insides with butter and pour your pate liquid into them.  Cover with saran wrap, or, as I did, 1/8" melted butter. These will keep in your fridge for 1 week or in your freezer for 2 months.

I made three and have already given one to my dad for his SIXTIETH birthday, and another equally as important occasion.
Jacques' Pate found here.

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