Friday, January 10, 2014

Ah pâté... Ain't nobody don't like pâté...

I'm not sure when I first ate pâté, but I must have been young. I seem to have many childhood memories of devouring a lot of pâté. I don't know if they're real imaginings or as frequent as I recall, but I can still taste that deliciously unique creamy richness. As a child I piled the crackers high with big chunks of the stuff and this is the way I eat it now. Nothing delicate here. 

Truth be told, I didn't eat pâté for years and years. That stuff with jellied peppercorns atop it in plastic packaging has never really appealed and eating liver from an animal of dubious sources freaks me out. It feels like pâté is pretty much bad fashion on a plate these days, which means we are either very much behind the times or very much cutting edge here because we have been eating A LOT of pâté here at Autumn Farm. And why not? We have access to some pretty delectable pasture raised chicken's livers these days. And to make this story even more feel good, it is said that liver is the most nutritionally dense food you can eat. A-mazing. 

When people buy our whole chickens they can also get hearts, livers, feet, gizzards, necks by the kilo. While lots of the bits end up as pet food, the orders started coming in for the livers with people telling me, 'I'm going to have a go at making some pâté..." Pâté?! Oh wow, that taste of my childhood returned to me and I got a little bit pâté curious. Then I read this lovely post and my return to pâté was confirmed. My childhood pâté memories centre around my parent's dinner parties and family lunches, and then there was that brioche and pâté extravaganza at my mum's 40th birthday party... Annie's childhood pâté memories are of a more Germanic variety. At her Oma and Opa's she ate a lot of liverwurst on black rye with radish or mustard. At home, she ate it on white with pickles. How we both eat it now is entirely influenced by those formative experiences.  

My preferred mode - on toasty sourdough with leaves and tomatoes from the garden

Annie's preference is with homemade pickles
I'm still amazed that something so luxuriously delicious could be so cheap and easy to make. Sadly I think my amazement just reveals how out of touch with eating simply and well we have become in the west. We are supremely lucky in that we have a ready supply of chicken livers we feel very comfortable consuming. Annie's work at the abattoir has confirmed for us just how good our livers are. Our chickens have livers of deep deep red and they smell sweet. Some other chickens that have consumed a different diet and lived a different life have livers that appear, well, sick and pale browny coloured, and they smell yuck. I know I know, some of you may be wondering where you can get these sweet smelling livers from? If you don't live in the Bega valley then I cannot really say. You need to find yourselves a butcher who can guarantee the provenance of the meat they're selling you. If you're in Sydney, you would want to try these fine fellas

The pâté recipe I have been using is a little fusion of what we have at home + Emily's + Matthew Evans + a little bit of internet searching... and it goes a little something like this - 
250g butter (Bega butter of course!)
2-3 brown onions, finely chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
5 sprigs of thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
a small sprig of sage
500g chicken livers
a splash of red or white wine or port

Slowly cook onions in the butter until onion is soft but not brown. Add the herbs and garlic and cook a little longer. Add the livers and cook for 15 minutes until livers are cooked through. Add a splash of wine or port and cook for a few minutes more. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Then blend in a food processor until smooth. 

How easy is that?!
I read somewhere that it freezes and thaws really really well. I ask you, can this story get any better?

Basically we have had a continuous supply of pâté the past four months and we're so not sick of it yet. We've had many visitors from Sydney and I've fed them all pâté. I like to think of it as a little something special we can offer our friends from the big smoke. It's true, we don't have fine theatre or cinema or very much hustle bustle but we do have very fine pâté. And we also have very fine beaches and what could be finer beach food than pâté on sourdough, with a little home grown cherry tomato chaser? Seriously good stuff, the kind of stuff that makes my heart sing.   
Eating pate' while gazing upon this feels pretty good

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