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Faux Gras Pâté

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This easy make-ahead pâté makes for an elegant first course or party appetizer on any festive buffet table. Enriched with duck fat and various spices, this silky smooth spread is sure to be a hit at your next party or special gathering. Serve with your choice of toasted bread points, crackers, or fresh vegetables for dipping and spreading.

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Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, about 1/2 cup
  • 1/2 cup duck fat
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh marjoram or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 pound chicken livers, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup port, madeira, cognac, or armagnac
  • a fresh thyme, marjoram, or sage sprig as garnish, optional
  • crackers, baguette slices, or hearty bread to serve

Details

Servings 12
Preparation time 20mins
Cooking time 180mins

Preparation

Step 1

First, prepare the pâté. Melt 1/2 stick butter with duck fat in a large nonstick skillet over moderately low heat. Cook onion and garlic, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add herbs, salt, pepper, allspice, and livers and cook, stirring, until livers start to feel firm when you press them with the edge of a wooden spatula, about 8 minutes. The smaller pieces will cook faster, so transfer them to a bowl as they reach doneness. Transfer mixture to food processor. Add port to skillet, increase heat to medium high and reduce liquid by about half, stirring and scraping up any bits in the skillet. Starting with such a small amount of liquid, I occasionally tilt the skillet—seeing it pooled at the edge of the skillet makes it easier to judge when it’s reduced down to about 2 tablespoons. Add reduced port to food processor and purée mixture until smooth, then transfer pâté to serving dish or ramekins and smooth top. The pâté will seem a little pudding-ish while warm, but firms up as it chills.

Now, make the clarified butter. Melt remaining 1/2 stick butter in a very small heavy saucepan over low heat, then remove pan from heat and let butter stand 3 minutes. Skim froth from butter with a spoon. If using herb garnish, put sprig on top of pâté, then spoon enough clarified butter over pâté to cover its surface, leaving milky solids in bottom of pan.

Chill pâté uncovered in refrigerator until butter is firm, about 30 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours more. Though this pâté can be eaten the day it’s made, it’s even more flavorful when made 1 or 2 days ahead.

Serve with crackers, baguette slices, or hearty bread.

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