Chef de cuisine Victor Albisu, who goes through about seven pounds of organic chicken livers to make the pâté each day, says the best part is its fluffiness: “It’s still decadent and really flavorful, but the way that we do it makes it kind of airy at the same time.” Make sure not to overcook the chicken livers or the spread will be dry. Also, the recipe calls for pink salt, or sel rose, which chefs use to give pâtés a rosy color, but if you can’t find it, sea salt can be substituted without changing the flavor.
Warm Chicken-Liver Spread
1 bay leaf
7 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup ruby port
1 shallot, thinly sliced, plus 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced, plus 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 pound chicken livers, trimmed
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
1¼ teaspoons pink salt (or regular sea salt)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons duck fat or extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Fleur de sel, as needed
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 thick slices country bread, toasted
Cornichons or pickled vegetables for garnish
Make the reduction:
Tie the bay leaf and 2 sprigs of thyme together with kitchen twine. In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the port, herb bundle, sliced shallot, and sliced garlic to a simmer. Cook until the port is reduced to the consistency of a thick syrup. Remove the herb bundle.
Cook the chicken livers:
Season the chicken livers with the sea salt, pink salt, and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the duck fat in a large skillet over high heat. When the pan is nearly smoking, add half the livers and brown on 1 side, about 2 minutes. Turn and cook on the other side until golden brown but still pink in the center, about 1 minute more. Stir in half of the chopped shallots and chopped garlic. Pour in 1½ tablespoons of the Cognac and heat 1 minute. Scrape the mixture into a bowl. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
Blend the mixture:
In a food processor, combine the livers and port syrup. Process until smooth. Blend in the butter. Season with salt and pepper. Scrape the mixture into a bowl. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. (The pâté can be made ahead up to this point. Cover and chill for up to 3 days. To reheat, place the spread in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Heat gently, stirring occasionally, until warm.)
Remove the leaves from the remaining thyme sprigs. Garnish the pâté with the thyme leaves, a sprinkling of fleur de sel, and the extra virgin olive oil. Serve warm with country bread and cornichons or pickled vegetables.
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