I have a distinct memory of being a six year old at the dinner table with a plate full of liverwurst. I wasn't a fan of liverwurst in my younger years and if memory serves me correctly, I don't think I touched it. Fast forward 36 years, liverwurst has been reimagined as pâté and not only do I eat it with verve, I make it on a regular basis. I have to admit, my pâté bears very little resemblance to the Oscar Meyer liverwurst of my youth— it's not wrapped in yellow plastic, pancetta from Northern Waters Smokehaus plays a strong supporting role, the quince adds a hint of floral sweetness and chestnuts give it a satisfying crunch. Perhaps if I was presented with a fancy liverwurst/pâté at the tender age of six, I would've jumped on the organ meat bandwagon a lot sooner. Regardless, I'm on the bandwagon now and it's proving to be a pretty sweet ride.
Chicken Liver Pate With Pancetta, Quince And Calvados (Adapted From Fine Cooking Party Food)
3 containers (15 ounces each) fresh, all natural chicken livers
6 tbsp olive oil
1 pound pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch dice
3 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 quince, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tsp rosemary, finely chopped
1 cup Calvados
2 sticks of butter (16 tbsp), at room temperature
3/4 cup chestnuts, coarsely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Rinse the livers and trim off the tough tissue that connects the lobes; pat dry.
In a sauté pan over medium high heat, sauté the chestnuts until they are fragrant and start to turn golden brown. Set aside.
In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat and add the chicken livers, seasoning with a small amount of salt. Cook the livers, turning once or twice, to medium rare, lightly browning on both sides, about 4 minutes. Set the livers aside and add the pancetta, shallots, garlic, quince, rosemary and thyme to the pan. Gently sauté over medium heat until the pancetta is slightly colored and the shallots and quince are softened. Add the Calvados and deglaze the pan, scraping with a wooden spoon and cooking until the Calvados is reduced to about 1/3 cup. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a food processor, combine the cooled livers, pancetta mixture and butter; process until well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Line small bowls or ramekins with plastic wrap. equally divide the chestnuts among the bowls and then add the pâté, lightly it covering with the plastic wrap and refrigerate until set. Grind additional pepper over the top before serving with crackers or slices of baguette. Keeps for a week in the refrigerator and up to 3 months (well-wrapped) in the freezer.