And to think that the general public thinks that liver pâté is to be enjoyed in moderation! Our little secret is that we perfectly know that those pâtés are full of healthy saturated animal fats. Liver and other organs really are a nutrition powerhouse. In fact, I personally recommend including organ meat, or offal, at least a couple times a week for optimum nutrition. Remember Vilhjalmur Stefansson who lived with the Inuits for more than a year and ate almost no carbohydrates while staying in great health. His secret? Eating the organs and the fatty parts of the animal. Traditional culture used to give the muscle meat to the dogs when the hunt was good and kept the organs.
Chicken liver, for example, is full of fat soluble vitamin A, iron, vitamin B12, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, phosphorus and selenium. It’s also high in cholesterol, but we know that cholesterol is a good thing to have in the diet.
I think the natural evolution of someone on a Paleo diet for long enough is to start eating a lot of muscle meat while slowly introducing more and more animal fat. Then come the bones in the form of marrow and broths. Finally, regular consumption of organs joins the party. Fat, muscle, bones and organs will provide optimal nutrition. The one problem is that liver, kidney, tongue, heart and brains certainly have a distinctive taste and don’t please everyone’s taste buds. You have three choices then; you limit your organ consumption and miss out on this cheap and delicious source of proteins and nutrients, you force yourself to eat it, or you find a way to make it tasty. I certainly prefer the last option.
Pâtés, terrines and rillettes have been around for a long time and bring about a delicious taste while masking part of the strong taste of the meat. They are usually French delicacies, but few people know that they are easy to make at home with a few basic and very affordable ingredients, especially for liver pâtés. Since those are so healthy, don’t be scared to eat it right off the spoon unlike most people who spread a small quantity over a big piece of toast. It’s the toast that’s killing them, not the pâté.
Enough discussion and on to the real meat of those recipes, so to speak. I decided to give you two different recipes to show you how you can easily play with different flavors and ingredients. The second one is a creation of mine and also calls for a pork heart, which should be available at your butcher.
Traditional Chicken Liver Pâté
- 1/2 lb chicken livers;
- 1 clove garlic, minced;
- 3 thin slices bacon, chopped in cubes;
- 1 large onion, diced;
- 3/4 cup butter;
- 4 tbsp chopped parsley;
- 3 tbsp sherry (you can use vinegar instead);
- Fresh nutmeg (optional);
- Salt and pepper to taste;
- Heat a large pan to medium high heat and cook the bacon for about 3 minutes.
- Add the onion, garlic and 1/4 of a cup of the butter and soften for another 3 or 4 minutes.
- Prepare the livers by cutting out the white stringy part.
- Add the livers to the pot and cook for about 7 to 10 minutes with a little more of the butter.
- Once cooked through, add sherry, parsley and salt, pepper and fresh nutmeg to taste.
- Remove from heat and pour mixture in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
- Pour the smooth mixture in a serving dish.
- Melt the remaining butter and pour over the pâté evenly.
- Cover and put in the refrigerator to cool until the fat hardens.
- Enjoy as a snack on celery sticks, on lettuce leaves or directly off the spoon since it’s so good in its own.
Basil, Cinnamon, Cranberry, Chicken and Heart Pâté
I made a huge batch of it so if you don’t plan on eating it all, which would surprise me, you can make just half the recipe.
- 1 cup duck fat (use any animal fat, duck is really good in this case);
- 2 1/2 pounds chicken or pork liver (or a mix of both);
- 1 pork heart;
- 2 large onions, diced;
- 1 garlic clove, minced;
- 1 cup chopped fresh basil;
- 5 tbsp freshly ground cinnamon;
- 4 tbsp raw unpasteurized apple cider vinegar;
- 1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, divided;
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Heat a medium to large pot and soften the onions for 3 or 4 minutes with half the duck fat. Add the garlic when onions are almost soft and cook until the garlic aroma starts to unfold.
- Prepare the livers and heart by removing the stringy white part and cutting in evenly sized pieces.
- Add the livers and heart to the pot with the onions and cook on medium heat for 7 to 10 minutes. You can add a bit more duck fat at this point and season with salt and pepper.
- Add the vinegar, basil and half the cranberries.
- Pour the mixture and the cinnamon in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Unless you have a very large food processor, you’ll have to do it in multiple batches.
- Cut the remaining cranberries in half.
- Combine the pâté and halved cranberries in a large dish.
- Adjust seasoning to taste (cinnamon, salt and pepper).
- Melt the remaining duck fat in a small pot and pour on top of the finished pâté.
- Cover the dish and put in the refrigerator to cool and harden for about 1 or 2 hours.