Festive Starter – Chicken Liver Pate with Thyme & Orange

These recipes went down a treat at our recent Starters & Desserts, Supper Club. They’re a great choice for Christmas day as they can be prepared ahead or impressive, served at a drinks party over the festive period.

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Brandy, cream and orange are a winning combo and thyme goes really well with the livers. Pâté is a great thing to make ahead of time for a party and always looks impressive. Just be sure to take care when cooking chicken livers so they are pink but not raw or over-cooked. This is the perfect Christmas day starter or great for a party.

400g chicken livers, trimmed of white parts and sliced

200mls milk

2 tablespoons butter

2 medium shallots, finely chopped

1 clove garlic

Finely grated zest of 1 orange

1 heaped teaspoon finely fresh thyme leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

50mls brandy (or a little more to your taste)

100-125ml cream


½ teaspoon or nutmeg or allspice or moroccan seasoning

4 dessertspoons cranberry sauce to spread across the top

Soak the livers in the milk in a glass bowl for an hour beforehand.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan, stir in onion, garlic with the orange zest and thyme

Fry gently until onion is translucent – about 5 minutes.

Drain the chicken livers from the milk, dry and add to the pan.

Cook over a medium heat until livers are no longer pink on the outside. To test:

Remove a piece of liver from the pan and cut it open; it should be moist but no longer bloody (a little tinge of pink is fine).

Season with salt and pepper, turn up the heat, then add the brandy. Let it bubble for a minute.

Remove from the heat, allow to cool slightly and spoon everything into a food processor. Add the cream. Blend until smooth.

Add softened butter and optional spice (if using), whizz to incorporate. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Pass the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl and then divide between four ramekins or small kilner jars and smooth the tops down by banging the bottom of the ramekins (carefully) against the work surface, then place in the fridge while you prepare the butter finish or finish with a layer of cranberry sauce


For the butter layer to finish

80g butter

pinch ground mace

½ orange, zest only

4 small sprigs thyme, leaves only

Melt the butter in a saucepan with the ground mace and spoon over the pâtés.

Sprinkle over the orange zest and thyme leaves to decorate. Refrigerate for two hours before serving

Remove from refrigerator 20 minutes before serving.

Serve with crisp melba toast triangles or crostini and cranberry sauce.


Crostini (Makes 20)

20 slices day-old baguette, or pre-bake

ciabatta loaf cut into 1cm thick pieces

Sunflower or rapeseed oil

Preheat oven 180C / 170C / Fan Gas 4.

Place baguette slices on a baking tray.

Brush with oil on both sides, bake until crisp and golden, turning after a few minutes (6-8 minutes)Serve with topping of choice.

Make a few hours ahead and keep in an airtight container.


For the Melba Toast:

2 thick slices white bread

Heat the grill to high. Place the bread on a baking sheet and toast on both sides until lightly browned.

Cut the crusts off the toast, then carefully cut through the middle of each slice horizontally to give you 2 thin slices.

Cut each of these into 4 triangles. Put the triangles, untoasted-side up, on the baking sheet and place back under the grill to brown – if they curl up slightly, all the better.

The toast can be made a day ahead and kept in an airtight container.