Sunday, March 27, 2011

Birthday pate

I am terrible about remembering people’s birthdays. It is embarrassing that a good friend of mine reminds me about my parents’ birthday every year. However, in the past year or so, I found a good method of remembering about birthdays and making birthday presents at the same time. The solution is cake. For some unknown reason, I find birthday cake deadlines much more effective than Facebook,  Outlook, and other gadgets.

In the past, there was Yasaman’s chocolate roll-cake and Amina’s pear tart, but few months ago I received an unusual request from my friend, colleague, and great cook – Jeremy. He asked for a pate as birthday present. 

My conservative and purist views on food eliminated the idea of a cake-shaped pate ala SeriousEats right away and knowing Jeremy’s weakness for duck and pork, I decided to mix the proteins a bit. Roasted pistachios enhance the texture, add natural saltiness, and nutty smokiness to this silky treat. This pate would make a great holiday present, a center piece at a wine party, and a much better snack than a granola bar.
Birthday pate
1 Tbsp butter
.1 pound guanchala (smoked pork fat)
1 medium shallot
5 sage leafs
2 springs of tarragon
1.25 pound chicken liver
.5 pound duck liver
 1 duck lung (very well cleaned)
1/3 cup dry red wine
5 Tbsp soft unsalted butter
1/3 cup roasted salted pistachios
splash of red wine vinegar

Butter "seal"
1 Tbsp butter melted
1Tbps of  chopped cup roasted salted pistachios cleaned from the outer skin

2-3 small sage leafs
Melt butter and guanchala in a steal or cast iron pan over medium heat. Add finely chopped shallots, sage, tarragon to the pan, and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add meat to a hot pan and cook for 3 minutes or until livers are just slightly pink in the middle. Add wine, scraping the bottom of the pan reduce the liquid to 3 Tbsp. Turn off the heat and put 4 livers on a side.

Cool the meat. Add the meat (with all pan juices), pistachios, butter, 1 tsp salt, 1/3 tsp black pepper, and a splash of red wine vinegar to a blender or a food processor. Whiz the mixture until it is smooth. Move the pate into a large bowl.

Chop reserved livers and gently fold chopped livers into the pate. Fill up sterilized ramekin or jar with pate leaving 1/3 inch of space on top. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Pour 1 Tbsp of melted butter over the pate to seal it. Refrigerate for 5 minutes. Sprinkle chopped pistachios over the butter and garnish with fresh sage. Serve with toasted bread.


  1. That looks amazing!!! Can I have pate for my birthday this year from you, instead of cake? :)

  2. OMG, i cant wait to tell my mom to add some pistachios and butter to her pate. I think she uses milk instead of butter, and cognac instead of wine. This will make her world!

  3. soaking liver in milk helps to remove the blood and make the liver softer, so you can still use milk. As for the wine, I think it adds the acidity pate misses.