A wine tasting that food and wine editor Narsai David recently attended inspired him to dig out a recipe that was the basis for one of the most popular dishes at his former eponymous restaurant. David said he was thrilled to see a wine paired with duck liver pate just as he used to serve it at Narsai’s in Berkeley.
“Making it is no tough deal,” David said. “If you have a blender or food processor, that’s really all you need.”
If it’s difficult to procure duck livers, David said substituting chicken, turkey or rabbit livers also have outstanding results.
“It just happens to be that we settled on duck livers so many years ago,” he said.
This recipe was inspired by Ruthanne Dickerson Long, who made it for us so many years ago. In fact, the only addition I brought to it was the Port wine aspic. It was the favorite pate at our restaurant and market in Berkeley from the time we first ever made it, and remains our favorite today.
10 TBS butter ( 1 1/4 sticks)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/2 small green apple, peeled and thinly sliced
*8 oz duck livers
3 TBS apple brandy or sherry
2 TBS cream
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup port wine
1 TBS sugar
1 TBS water
1 1/2 TBS red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp dried tarragon
Heat 4 tablespoons butter in a frying pan, add the onion, and sauté until quite brown.
Add the apple and continue to cook until the apple just starts to soften, 3 to 4 minutes.
Turn up the heat to high and add the duck livers. Sauté until the livers are cooked but still slightly pink in the center.
Deglaze the pan with the brandy or sherry.
Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and add the cream. To avoid being burned, be sure to cover the container before starting to process the food, and to handle it with a towel or hot pad.
Puree the mixture. Then add the remaining 6 TBS butter, the salt and lemon juice and process again until smooth.
Pack the finished pate in a 12-ounce decorative terrine or glass bowl: or for individual portions, into small ramekins, 1 1/2 to 2 ounce capacity. Refrigerate until cold.
Meanwhile to make the aspic, soften the gelatin in the port wine and set aside.
Dissolve the sugar in the water in a small saucepan and cook it rapidly until the sugar melts and begins to caramelize. Watch it carefully: Once the sugar starts to melt it will caramelize very quickly.
Remove it immediately from the heat. It should be a medium caramel color. Add the port wine and gelatin.
Return to low heat, add the vinegar and tarragon, and simmer for just 2 minutes.
Strain through a fine sieve and set aside until it is almost cool.
Spoon over the prepared liver pate in an 1/8″ thick layer and refrigerate until ready to serve.
* Chicken liver, turkey liver or rabbit liver work equally well in this recipe.
NOTE: If the aspic sets before you are ready to spoon it over the pate, warm it for a minute.
If the pate is still hot when you pour on the aspic, it might cloud the surface.