Homemade Duck Liver Pâté

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pate 2

The more I raise livestock the more I try to use all that the animal provides to me—from the most prime cuts to the less appealing parts. Sometimes this is easier than other times and the idea of eating certain parts less appealing than others. We can all down a T-bone steak or savor a rack of lamb, but what about kidney, heart, tongue, or even brains. Even I have to admit that some of the organ meats are a bit daunting to think about much less prepare and eat. One that isn’t hard at all is duck liver, especially when it comes in the form of Pâté. For me a smooth, rich pâté and a loaf of artisan bread are like milk and cookies; chips and salsa; carrots and dip would be to others. It is food for the Gods, my favorite go to snack food, the perfect road trip food.

When I butchered my dozen Peking and Rouen ducks last fall I saved the heart, liver and gizzards, freezing them in small batches for future use. I had (have) no idea what I’ll do with the heart and gizzards, that’s for another adventurous culinary quest, but I knew exactly what I would do with the livers. Make pâté, and make it often.

So when our summer concert series started I set out to use my duck livers and dive headlong into the world of homemade pâté. I wanted to cook something I had never cooked before. I wanted to begin exploring cookery of lesser known cuts. I wanted to savor those lush, velvety flavors as we sat under a balmy sky and listened to a rhapsody of song.

In preparation for my weeknight pâté making I pulled a package of four livers out of the freezer and let them defrost in the fridge while I was at work. After a bit of research and comparing recipes I chose one by Jacques Pepin, a world renowned chef who likes to keep things simple. Aside from the simplicity of the recipe, the process was short and the reviews, by other intrepid pâté makers, were very positive. So, I gathered together the 7 needed ingredients, plus the defrosted duck liver and set about making my first ever pâté.

I rinsed and rough chopped the livers; diced the shallots, crushed the garlic and sipped the Cognac before measuring out the required amount. I used butter because my duck butchering helper chucked the duck fat in the trash bucket before I could tell her to save it. But, no matter, it turned out great anyway.

Pâté, as it turns out, is really very easy to make, almost full proof in fact. I screwed up on a few of the measurements because I used more liver than the recipe called for and misread my calculations. But, it still turned out fabulous.

Basically, you sauté shallots in duck fat, or in my case butter, add the duck livers, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper then puree it all with Cognac until smooth and creamy. Pop it in the fridge to set, if you can wait that long, and then store it in a lidded container. It doesn’t keep long, but who cares…it won’t last anyway.

There you have it… pâté, bread, a hunk of cheese, a bottle of wine and a perfect summer night. What could be more sublime?

Now all I have to do is figure out what to do with the lamb liver the butcher sent me. Is there such a thing as lamb liver pâté? The search is on, folks?

Want to try making your own duck liver Pâté? I highly recommend Jacques Pepin’s simple recipe.



3 ounces duck fat

1 large shallot, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 duck liver rinsed and cut into ½’ pieces

¼ tsp herbs de Provance

1 clove garlic, crushed

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

1 tsp Cognac

Sliced & toasted French baguette


  • Place duck fat in skillet and cook over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes, until fat has melted and some has browned.
  • Add shallots and cook for about 30-seconds, stirring occasionally. Add liver, herbes de Province, and garlic, and cook over medium heat for about 1-1/2 to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper.
  • Transfer mixture to a blender or food processor, add Cognac and blend until liquefied. If you want a finer texture, press mixture through a strainer with the back of a spoon. Let cool for 1-1/2 hours before covering and refrigerating.
  • When pâté is set, spread on toasted baguette slices. Will keep 3 to 4 days if covered.

This recipe makes about ½ cup. I used four livers and it made almost 2 cups.

One Response to “Homemade Duck Liver Pâté”

  1. Dale Arenz says:

    Why not add the hearts and gizzards to the process, they are similar in texture and taste.

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