Sage & Chicken Liver Pâté

Chicken Liver Pâté is a luxuriously rich and deeply nourishing addition to any dinner table. Spread atop sprouted grain toast points and garnished with dried cranberries, toasted walnuts and microgreens, chicken liver pâté can make a full meal in and of itself. And, for those who are wary of organ meats, chicken liver pate is an excellent entrance into these deeply nourishing foods.

Chicken liver pâté, like roe, oysters, lobster and other foods we now consider a luxury, were born of practicality and a waste-not-want-not attitude – a way to make every bit of the harvest count. North Americans are peculiar about their foods – preferring muscle meat to other more nutrient-dense variety meats. Even my 4-year old who has a palate that rivals the most adventurous eater squirms at the thought of eating liver (I do too, by the way), saying that he’s not a “Body meat kinda guy, just a muscle meat kinda guy.” It’s an intellectual aversion, rather than one of taste, so we simply refer to this chicken liver pâté as pâté de foie de volailles. A little pretentious, perhaps, but he gobbles it up not having learned the translation quite yet.

Organ meats, like the chicken livers in this pâté, are exceptionally rich in micronutrients and have been enjoyed cross-globally since the dawn of man. Liver is a nutritional powerhouse thanks to its high content of B vitamins and preformed vitamin A. It is deeply nourishing and considered a depression busting food by nutritional researcher Amanda Rose who blogs at Rebuild from Depression.

In conventional media, we hear a lot about folate and its importance for women in their child-bearing years as lack of folate contributes to significant birth defects. While many people recognize leafy greens as a good source of folate, liver beats them every time packing more than twice the amount of folate as spinach on an ounce-per-ounce basis. Moreover, liver contains retinol or performed vitamin A which is also essential to reproductive health and the health of the developing baby. Indeed, poor maternal vitamin A intake is implicated in cleft palate as well as other congenital malformations.

I can’t underscore this point enough: Liver is an important food  –  a sacred food – and is worth learning to like. Like many foods that can seem initially off-putting  like wheat grass and fish roe, for example, and you may need to try it more than once to acquire a taste for it. Fortunately, this chicken liver pâté is quite mild and has a pleasing flavor and texture, and it presents an excellent opportunity to learn to love a new, nourishing food. Remember: just one appetizer-sized portion of sage and chicken liver pâté provides approximately 41% of the RDA for folate, 79% of the RDA for vitamin B12 and 88% of the RDA for vitamin A.

sage and chicken liver pâté

By Jenny Published: October 29, 2009

  • Yield: 16 as an appetizer
  • Prep: about 4 hours (marinating) min
  • Cook: overnight (in the refridgerator) min
  • Ready In:

This recipe for sage and chicken liver pâté serves approximately 16 as an appetizer. It’s excellent served on sprouted grain or sourdough toast points, with apples and grapes or alongside naturally fermented cornichons. It also makes a good addition to the holiday table.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Livers from Pasture-fed Chickens
  • 1 quart Fresh Milk (recommended, but optional)
  • 14 oz Ghee from Grass-fed Cows OR 8 oz Butter and 6 oz Ghee
  • 2 large shallots (Finely Chopped)
  • 2 Tbsp Rubbed Sage
  • 1/2 cup Sherry
  • Fresh Sage Leaves (to garnish)

Instructions

  1. Rinse chicken livers gently, drain them and set them in a bowl.
  2. Pour 1 quart fresh milk over the chicken livers and allow them to marinate in the milk for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.
  3. Drain the chicken livers and rinse them again.
  4. Heat 4 oz ghee in a skillet until melted.
  5. Add the sliced shallots and brown.
  6. Add the chicken livers to the onions and ghee. Note that they will release a significant amount of liquid.
  7. Simmer chicken livers until browned through and until the liquid has largely cooked away. Note that at this point many of the chicken livers will be falling apart on their own – a very good thing.
  8. Add the rubbed sage and deglaze the pan with sherry.
  9. Continue to cook until sherry is largely cooked away.
  10. Allow the mixture to cool.
  11. Add mixture and 8 oz of softened butter or ghee to your food processor and process until smooth.
  12. Melt remaining 2 oz of ghee until liquid.
  13. Spoon pâté into individual ramekins or dishes, garnish with fresh sage leaves and pour melted ghee gently over the pâté.
  14. Allow the sage and chicken liver pâté to set in the fridge for a few hours or overnight, but bring to room temperature prior to serving.

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What people are saying

  1. Lisa Z says

    My husband has made this before and I’ve never dared try it. I told him if he uses your recipe I’ll try it…he defensively said it’s not much different than what he does, but I know he’ll be happy to accommodate me…lol! I know it’s good for me, so I’ll try. ;-)

  2. Dawn @ Small Footprint Family says

    Oh I wish I could try this! I cannot have dairy of any kind–even ghee gives me hives. It looks lovely! I wonder what I could sub for the milk and ghee?

    • Kristina says

      The milk is just for soaking so you could omit it. You can use pork fat instead of ghee – it has roughly the same consistency and tastes great. Coconut oil would work also.

  3. Lisa Imerman says

    In the Jewish Traditional way you would use rendered chicken fat (schmaltz) to cook the onions and liver. The recipe for Chopped liver (liver pate) is different in the Jewish culture. I may try a version of your recipe with the chicken fat as I don’t really like Ghee.

  4. says

    I’m seriously thinking about trying this, although maybe in a half batch as I am the only one who likes liver.

    A couple of things. One, I just recently found your blog and have been enjoying it, so I added you to my One Lovely Blog Award list at: http://commonsensehomesteading.blogspot.com/2009/11/one-lovely-blog-award.html

    Two, any chance you’ve made beet kvass? I just brewed my first batch this week (from the Nourishing Traditions recipe) and it seems very salty for my taste – almost too strong to drink. I’m wondering if it’s supposed to taste like this?

    • Tammy says

      i tried beet kvass from NT… i will do just about anything for health… but i just can’t stomach beet kvass.

    • Cheryl says

      @ Laurie –

      I found with the last batch I made that it was very salty after 3 days – but then I noticed that it also wasn’t that deep dark purplish red it should be. I realized that things had been too cold in my house and hadn’t drawn much out of the beets – so I poured off and saved the 1st ferment, and proceeded to the second ferment, using some of the liquid from the first as “starter” on the 2nd (per the recipe). The 2nd sitting turned out wonderfully (and less salty). I then combined both ferments – which turned out just right! and have them bottled in my fridge right now. :) I’m half way through the first quart. I really enjoy the slightly salty/tangy taste (it gets more tang as it sits) – but I’ve also gone half and half with some good whole milk yogurt too. :)
      hth :)

      • Marta says

        Does anyone know how long beet kvass can be kept in the fridge? I had mine standing there for 6 months because of pregnancy aversion to beets, but now would like to drink it. It tastes ok but is the nutritive value not diminshed by time that has passed since I made it?

  5. says

    This seriously looks good. I have two tried and true pate recipes that I use, but I just may have to branch out with this one.

    I’m wondering about the milk. What does it do to the pate? I haven’t seen that before. I’m wondering how it affects the results.

    Thank you!
    Tara

    • Jenny in CG says

      the milk “sweetens” the meat… meaning it pulls those flavors out the we North Americans call gamy or strong.

      I use this method when I prepare wild rabbit or venison for the uninitiated.

      It might actually tenderize as well but I have always let my *stellar cooking skills take the credit for that :)

  6. says

    I use dry vermouth and rosemary, mustard, and garlic in my pate. When I bring it to parties, it is devoured. People don’t know it has liver in it because it is 2/3 mushroom and onion. I am often asked to bring pate to parties from people who have had it before.

    If you prefer a liverwurst type of taste, add hard boiled egg.

    I am eager to try the sherry and sage recipe.

    • Johanna says

      2/3 anything else: what a great idea! I happen to be in the world’s mushroom capital and Mother Earth (Organic) Mushroom Farm is just a hop, skip and a jump away! Amy, it would truly be a delight if you could possibly share instructions for your pate!

      As for the one posted here, I will buy me some sherry tomorrow, as I just took a pound of livers out of my freezer! The sage lured me in because we have a wild sage bush that I am quite fond of. Rubbed sage, however, I will have to google, as I’ve never heard of that before!

      Nourished Kitchen, I love you and I love getting your e-mails! :-)

  7. Sandra Mort says

    I’ve got a pile of liver (beef, lamb and chicken) cooked in rendered duck fat in my fridge waiting to be pate-ized later today. I don’t know if the rest of the duck fat that I have is still good, but if it doesn’t taste fresh, I’ll make it with onions cooked in butter and possibly some hard cooked egg in part of it. My question is, how well does it freeze? I can’t eat five plus pounds of liver before it spoils.

  8. Lanise says

    Can you suggest somewhere online to get pastured chicken livers? The place where I order chickens from does not sell just the livers. Thanks.

  9. Erin says

    Hi Jenny. I’ve got some beef livers that I’m going to be turning into a pate. Would you recommend soaking those in milk overnight as well? This is a new thing for us so anything to mild out the liveriness would be great! Thanks! I look forward to hearing back from you. :-) Erin (Has it warmed up a bit? I’m in AK and I don’t think even we have had -20!)

  10. says

    Oh WOW! I made this tonight, and it’s quite good! I was a bit dubious when the livers were sauteeing (not the best smell – lol), but once I added to sage & sherry…. oh my goodness, it turned into something heavenly!

    One question, though – can you freeze pate? I’m not sure we can eat as much as I made, and I’d love to be able to freeze some to enjoy later (like next week! :) ).

    • Tammy says

      i read that you can freeze it. i’ve done it, but it’s still in the freezer; so not sure how it will be once thawed.

  11. says

    Hi Jen,
    This sounds amaaaazing! I so love liver, I can taste it now! Is it okay to use soured milk to marinate, or do you think this will change the flavor too much? Picked up some milk late from my co op, and it sours almost instantly upon opening. So, I’ve got some excess soured milk. Other ways to use it up?

    • Catherine says

      I once used up some sour milk to make kefir. I just added my kefir grains and the end result was yummy! You couldn’t even tell that the milk had gone sour! :-)

    • Tammy says

      let it sit out and separate… top will be cream cheese; bottom will be whey. put a breathable lid on and it takes about one week.

  12. Anne says

    Just chiming in to say that I have made a very similar recipe using Coconut Oil (plus a little seasalt to counter it’s sweetness) in place of the softened butter – and it worked well.

  13. Cate says

    hi,

    just made your paté and loved it. Since I can’t keep myself from tinkering with recipes, I added an apple while frying the livers (since I made it with 250g of livers it would be 2 apples for a lb) and 3 cloves of garlic. HEAVEN! The apple actually didn’t mash up completely in the food processor (mine is small, old, wheezing and not always cooperative) which left my with tiny sweet apple chunks throughout the paté. I like!

  14. Sue says

    I made a similar pate recently that called for Applejack brandy instead of sherry. I didn’t really like the Applejack flavor, so I substituted a little B&B that I had in the pantry. I liked it. Hubby said it tasted “boozy”. He’s Brooklyn Jewish and not used to having his “chopped liver” dosed with brandy. I’m not partial to sherry, either. So I’m wondering if the booze can be left out or does is it integral to the “science” of the recipe (if you know what I mean). Is it just for flavoring, or will the recipe not work without it?

  15. Kat says

    Hi, I made a chicken livers and onion dish today and had too much let over, so I thought I turn it in to pate. My family doesn’t drink alcohol, so I didn’t add any. Just added some thyme and soy sauce. I’m wondering though…I know liver is good for you, but what if you can’t get pastured chicken products, expect for eggs…is it still worth while eating it from time to time?

    Thanks, Kat

    • Johanna says

      Monica, of simplybeingwell.com, emphasized to my cooking class that yes, it is indeed worth it. You might want to contact her for the why’s (and even post back here). Liver is one of the world’s most nutrient dense foods and somehow she explained how non-pastured animal livers are still worth a go. She even recommends keeping pill sized morsels of beef liver in your freezer and popping a couple each day. Kids don’t have to know what they are (“Liver Shooters” as I recall)!

  16. Johanna says

    Well my livers soaked for about 24 hours and I had never done that before. I never picked my sage so I let my livers and (onions) cool to finish the next day. Of course I had to try..these were the best livers Ive ever had!

  17. Jimbe says

    just made this recipe using half the amount of ghee called for. Seems more appropriate to me! I want to be eatin liver not just tons of ghee! freegin delicious ..

    ps. soaking in milk (I did goat) helps by removing impurities (I bet raw milk is best due to enzymes) as well as milding flavor.

  18. Karen says

    you can get pastured liver from U.S. Wellness Meats. I’ve ordered lots of meat from them, including chicken feet, and their prices include shipping.

  19. Noam says

    I tried this tonight. Instead of falling apart, the livers seemed to just be getting harder and harder, until they started to burn a bit and explode. What am I doing wrong? Thanks.

  20. Sylva says

    We made paté for many years, our favorite being chicken liver with cream cheese. Whenever possible, we liked to “enrich” the flavor with chicken hear (half and half or even 3/4 heart, 1/4 liver). We will try your non-dairy recipe, substituting the ghee with coconut fat.

    • Sylva says

      Edit : I meant “chicken heart”, not “hear” – or even “ear”, which would be a challenge to find and to gather enough for a paté :-)

  21. Rose Grosser says

    Hello, I’ve read the comments but still haven’t found an answer. When you pre-soak the liver in milk, do you refrigerate or keep it at room temperature? I did mine overnight in the fridge for safekeeping. Turned out beautifully sweet, mild and delicious. Added garlic, onions, used mirin not sherry, thyme and lemon verbena. Hubby and 5-year old loved it!

    • S says

      Hello,.

      From my (potentially dubious) understanding, raw milk will not go *bad* if soured from being left out. (Simply souring raw milk separates it into cream cheese and whey. Both are nourishing and, presumably, spoilage-free.)

      Pasteurized milk can contain harmful deficiencies, and maybe harmful substances, and lacks some protective enzymes/chemicals/beneficial bacteria, and so “spoils” when left out.

      Thus, if used, refrigeration may be best for pasteurized milks, and raw milks might or might not change in flavor profile because of souring, but they should not spoil.

      That being said, the liver itself might spoil, unless I am missing some information and possibilities regarding marinating for extended periods at room temperature.

      Thus, for the freshness of the liver, it may be best to marinate in the fridge… Unless I am missing some possibilities in which room temperature for more than four hours is completely fine.

      In which case the raw vs. pasteurized milks should give a good guideline.

  22. S says

    Hello,.

    From my (potentially dubious) understanding, raw milk will not go *bad* if soured from being left out. (Simply souring raw milk separates it into cream cheese and curds. Both are nourishing and, presumably, spoilage-free.)

    Pasteurized milk can contain harmful deficiencies, and maybe harmful substances, and lacks some protective enzymes/chemicals/beneficial bacteria, and so “spoils” when left out.

    Thus, if used, refrigeration may be best for pasteurized milks, and raw milks might or might not change in flavor profile because of souring, but they should not spoil.

    That being said, the liver itself might spoil, unless I am missing some information and possibilities regarding marinating for extended periods at room temperature.

    Thus, for the freshness of the liver, it may be best to marinate in the fridge… Unless I am missing some possibilities in which room temperature for more than four hours is completely fine.

    In which case the raw vs. Pasteurized milks should give a good guideline.

  23. SusaJayne says

    Made this recipe a while back and it came out SUBLIME. My husband is a grown-up picky child and I was surprised that he LOVED it. Just getting ready to make it again tomorrow. Did anyone ever come up with a suggestion for a source of pastured/organic chicken livers? Blending in the softened butter at the end makes all the difference.

    • Randa says

      I get mine from a local organic famer, but have you tried US Wellness Meats (online)? They may have them.

  24. Shalonne says

    Hi – Do you have a picture of the completed recipe? It’s always nice to see what it is supposed to look like and also allows me to post it on Pinterest as well. Thanks!

  25. Terry says

    I’ve made this (with the apple, from your book) and it is wonderful! One thing I was wondering though: I found an excellent source for chicken livers locally, but they are packed with the hearts as well. What can I do with those? Is it okay to just cook those up along with the livers and add them to the pate? Or will they be too tough?

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