Chicken Liver Parfait
The intention with this is to make a smooth, rich, spreadable pâté. I am firmly in the camp that thinks a layer of jelly on top is a good thing here; it helps preserve the parfait and I love the combination of earthy, slightly spiced livers and a fruity sweetness. So much so that I find it impossible to decide what kind of jelly to use. Usually, I have a collection of savoury apple jellies that I have flavoured with different spices or herbs. I simply melt some of these down, pour on top of the parfait and they reset nicely.
Favourite combinations have included an apple and blackberry jelly flavoured with bay leaves and crème de mûre, and a quince jelly given a hint of quatre epices. Here, I use apple and ginger wine jelly.
Incidentally, the other thing to serve with this parfait is a sweet onion jam, toasted, buttered brioche and a sweet dessert wine.
- For the parfait:
- 100g unsalted butter
- 1 small onion or shallot, very finely chopped
- 1 tsp thyme leaves
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- 1 mace blade, ground (or a grating of nutmeg)
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- 400g chicken livers, trimmed and finely chopped
- sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
- 75ml madeira or marsala
- 25g bone marrow, finely chopped (optional)
- 75ml double cream
- For the jelly:
- 300ml apple juice
- sprig of thyme or lemon thyme
- ginger wine
- 3 leaves of gelatine
Melt a small piece of the butter in a frying pan. When it starts to foam, add the onion and sauté over a gentle heat until it is very soft and translucent. This will take a while.
Add the thyme leaves, allspice and mace and ground ginger. Increase the heat and add the chicken livers. Season with salt and white pepper. Fry for a minute to brown the chicken livers, then pour over the madeira. Add the chopped bone marrow, if using, at this point. Simmer until the bone marrow has melted and the madeira has reduced to just 2–3 tbsp.
Allow to cool a bit, then tip into a food processor and blitz. Add the remaining butter and the cream and blitz again. You want this as smooth as possible with absolutely no tendons to spoil it, so at this point it is a good idea to push it through a sieve. Put into earthenware pots and smooth over evenly.
To make the jelly, heat the apple juice in a saucepan with the thyme or lemon thyme and reduce by half. Add the ginger wine and simmer for another couple of minutes. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water until soft, then wring out and add to the contents of the saucepan. Stir over a gentle heat until the gelatine has dissolved, then strain. Pour this over the pâté. Put in the fridge to set.