Yes, I know, to be linguistically correct the title should read Pâté, but after experiencing a whole lotta headache when I put the [ ü ] in Grüner Veltliner in the post title for my Wiener Schnitzel redux, ironically another 5 Star Makeover Challenge, I’m not willing to chance phonetic symbols in titles again.
After a two month break for the holidays, 5 Star Makeover Challenge, hosted by the lovely and talented Natasha of 5 Star Foodie and the infamous Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks, is back! This month’s challenge was to put the gourmet into that universally popular comfort food: meatballs.
My idea came to me while reading David Lebovitz‘s book The Sweet Life in Paris. Apparently, reading a book is something I can only accomplish on airplanes. Traveling cross country to NYC this month with a side trip to NW Arkansas, I actually read two books! The first one I absolutely could not put down and finished on the flight to LGA was Huraki Murakami‘s novel, South of the Border, West of the Sun. The second was The Sweet Life in Paris. Two totally different books and, for the record, I disagree with most of the reviews I’ve read about Murakami.
Anyway, as the back cover says, “David’s book is a deliciously funny, offbeat, and irreverent look at the City of Light, cheese, chocolate…” and each chapter contains humorous insights into urban France as told by an American living in Paris. When I came across David’s recipe for Chicken and Apple Spread, the light went off! With Don’s strict low sodium requirements, the foods that we miss the most are CHEESE, sausage, and other cured meats. But, I thought, here is a lower calorie, lower fat version of pâté that could ease our Francophile craving for cheese and accoutrements. Reading David’s intro to the recipe made me laugh, so I’m sharing this, as well as the recipe, which I followed exactly (except for the salt) and then truffle-ized it to make Pâté Meatballs, if you will.
“The word pâté doesn’t mean “terribly difficult, snooty French food”. It can refer to any meat-rich spread, which is everyday fare in France and not meant to be reserved for special occasions. You can easily make and enjoy pâté no matter where you live, and this recipe takes less than a half an hour to put together, so there’s no excuse not to give it a go. Especially true since I’ve replaced the slablike baratte of butter traditionally used in pâté with cooked apples, in case you’re concerned about how you’re going to look in, or out, of next summer’s swimsuit.”
Although pâté is rich in flavor, it really isn’t all that attractive to look at. The apples in this recipe actually add a fresh note to what is essentially ground chicken livers and butter (only 3 tablespoons here versus 1 cup or 8 tablespoons) and my idea to make Pâté truffles came to me as I was contemplating how to shoot the Pâté Meatballs and what to serve alongside. Toasted baguette slices and a fruit such as apples or pears were a given, but it needed something else. That something else I always desire is CRUNCH – and I achieved that and a dash of heat, as well as a more appealing texture, with the chopped pistachio and chile coating. If you’re a pâté lover (there’s not much middle ground with pâté), I think you’ll love it as much as we did 🙂
Chicken Pâté Truffles
Chicken and Apple Spread
Pâté de Foie de Volaille Aux Pommes
from The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz | Makes 8 servings
3 tablespoons (45 g) unsalted butter, divided use
1 medium tart apple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 inch (2 cm) dice
3 shallots or 1 small onion, peeled and finely minced
1 pound (450 g) chicken livers, cleaned of any dark spots, rinsed, and blotted dry with a paper towel
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream
1/4 cup (60 ml) Calvados, Cognac, or Armagnac*
Pinch of chile powder or ground nutmeg*
a few drops of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar*
Fleur de sel or flaky sea salt
For the truffle balls: 1/2 cup (60 ml) chopped pistachios and 1 teaspoon ground California chile or smoked paprika (if you’re not on a low-sodium diet, add a pinch of fleur de sel or other delicate sea salt)
*Notes: I used Courvoisier cognac, nutmeg, Meyer lemon, and Table Tasty Salt Substitute
1. In a large skillet, melt half the butter over medium heat. Add the apple and cook for about 6 minutes, stirring only once or twice, until the apples are browned and completely soft. Scrape the apples into a bowl.
2. Melt the rest of the butter in the same pan. Add the shallots and cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly, until soft.
3. Add the livers, season them with salt and pepper, and cook for about 3 minutes longer, until they’re firm on the outside but still pink within.
4. Add the cream, then the liqueur, to the pan. (If you add the liqueur first, it can flame up.) Add the nutmeg and continue to cook for about 3 minutes more, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits, until the pan liquids are slightly reduced. To test for doneness: cut a liver in half – it should be just cooked through (slightly pink) and the pan juices are the consistency of thin gravy.
5. Add the livers to the bowl of apples along with the liquid and any brown bits left in the skillet. Let rest until no longer steaming hot.
6. Puree the livers, apples, and any juices in a food processor or blender until completely smooth. Taste, adding more nutmeg and salt if desired and lemon juice to taste. The pate will seem runny at this point, but will firm up as it chills. Scrape the pate into a decorative serving bow, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Storage: Pate will keep for three days, well wrapped, in the refrigerator. It can be frozen for up to one month.
To make the truffles:
Using a spring-loaded small ice cream scooper, make Pâté balls and roll in chopped pistachios and chile mixture.
Serve with toasted baguettes and crisp slice pears, Asian pears or apples to bring out the flavor of the apples in the spread. Pair with a refreshing rosé as David suggests or a Brut champagne, dry Riesling, or Gewürztraminer also complements the creamy, richness of pâte.
Perfect for Valentine’s Day, but don’t feel like you have to save pâté for a special occasion. Any day is a good day to imagine yourself in Paris languishing at a small cafe with your l’amour♥