Classic rich and melt-in-the-mouth duck liver pate. This Dairy-free recipe is made with lard, seasoned with allspice, thyme, and a generous glug of cognac.
Liver pate is a smooth and creamy spread that is made by pureeing lightly-cooked livers with melted butter and seasoning. Traditional recipes use 2 parts liver to 1 part butter, but it is not uncommon to find the addition of cream. Lard makes an excellent substitute, as it replicates the texture and richness of butter. The switch is surprisingly undetectable amidst the big, bold flavours of liver, garlic and booze. Since butter is comprised of 20% water, whereas lard is 100% fat, you need to reduce the amount of lard by 20%.
In the last 50 years or so, an unwarranted and wasteful fussiness toward eating organ meats has developed in British food culture. This is a shame, as delicious and economical dishes like liver and gravy have fallen off the menu in favour of blander, more expensive and less nutritious cuts of meat like chicken breasts. Animals in the wild know better – they go straight for the organ meats after a kill, zoning in on the richest source of nutrients. As the purpose of the liver is to process and remove toxins, do please make sure you buy healthy liver from an animal that has been grass-fed, and not from an animal that has been pumped full of antibiotics.
- 500g organic duck livers
- 200g lard, melted
- 100ml cognac (worth buying a good bottle, as you will taste the difference)
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, leaves only
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and pour in a generous amount of the lard – it should foam around the edges of the livers when added. Fry the liver in batches for about 2 minutes each side, until lightly coloured but pink on the inside. Spoon hot lard from the pan over any uneven areas that do not colour. Top up the lard in the pan with each batch. Remove and transfer to a bowl once cooked.
- Add the shallot to the pan and fry for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute, then add the cognac (lift the pan up and away from the hob while you do this, to prevent the alcohol from catching fire). Let the alcohol burn off by bubbling steadily for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Check that the alcohol has burned off by smelling the rising fumes, then pour into the bowl, over the livers.
- Pour the remaining lard into the bowl, and add the thyme, allspice, salt and pepper. Transfer to a food processor in batches, and blitz to a smooth consistency. Taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary, adding more lard if you want a richer taste
- Spoon into a serving dish and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour until set. The pate will keep well for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. If you want to prolong the shelf life, melt some more lard and pour over the top to form a seal. If left unbroken, the pate will keep for 2 weeks in this state.
- To serve, spread on thinly-sliced toast. For best results, remove from the refrigerator half an hour before serving.