Italian Pâté? Whaddya talkin’ bout, Rach?
Well, hold on and I’ll tell you all about this fabulous recipe. But first let me tell you a little about how I made my way back to the joys of pâté once more! I was a creepy little kid who loved pâté, liver & onions and even black pudding: until I was old enough to comprehend the actual main ingredients in those dishes and delicacies. To say my animal loving heart was horrified would probably be an understatement. Strangely enough, sending my allowance to animal charities while enjoying those foods just didn’t jive with my ideals and I refused to eat any of them after that point.
Skip forward a few years and teenage me was a full on (very hungry, perpetually dieting) vegetarian. My meat avoidance lasted until partway through college, when I probably drunkenly reacquainted myself with the joys of a cheeseburger. Or something. Strangely enough, I don’t actually recall the exact meal that pushed my vegetarian status firmly into the “formerly” category. You’d think that I would, but since my meat avoidance for the most part had been part of the way I restricted my eating more than anything, that detail totally eludes me now.
Even when I returned to eating meat, I stayed firmly away from the “yucky” bits. For most of my twenties, I relegated myself to the land of dry chicken breast and other “healthy”, low fat meat. You know, aside from the aforementioned cheeseburgers. Pretty sure those happened more than I’d like to admit, since I was on a constant roller coaster between counting calories and avoiding “unnecessary” fat or carbs or making up for the ridiculous calorie deficit by eating all the things I forbade myself, like hummus, cheese and bread. (Just writing this makes me want to slap younger me upside the head. Ugh. What a waste of time and energy!)
Eventually, though, I found my way slowly to the way that I eat now, starting off by avoiding gluten, then dairy. Transitioning to paleo and then again to the AIP. And that’s when I learned about what a nutritional powerhouse liver is (Vitamin A! Copper! Iron! Selenium! Potassium! Zinc! Can I get a nutritional “amen”?!) and started to think about the pâté I had loved growing up, but hadn’t even considered eating for almost twenty years.
Once I started making my own pâté and eating it regularly, I actually found myself craving the stuff. It’s like my body knows what’s up faster than my brain does when it comes to what it needs. But after a while, I got bored of making the same ol’, same ol’ few recipes, so I decided to branch out out a little when it came to flavor. Instead of sticking to my usual French influences when it came to pâté, last week I tested out a batch with a Florentine twist to make this ridiculously umami-packed Italian Pâté recipe. You’re gonna love it!
Instead of turning to the magical savory-bomb of bacon or bacon fat, two of of my very common pâté add ins, I decided to reach for something a little different: a can of my favorite anchovy fillets. Sounds weird, right? But these salty, savory purveyors of funky flavor are actually the backbone to this Italian Pâté recipe. While you can’t isolate a specifically “fishy” flavor in the finished pâté, the anchovies provide the perfect foil to the gaminess of the chicken livers, especially when paired with the tanginess of capers. Anchovies and capers are such a natural pairing and they bring their own saltiness, which means you need to add little to no added salt. (Want more anchovy recipes? Check out my canned seafood guide!)
A quick note on capers: you’ll want to look for either brined capers without vinegar in the brine or salted capers. If your brine ingredients list “vinegar”, that usually means they used cheap white vinegar, which is made from corn. If you’re grain free, you’re gonna want to skip that stuff. You can occasionally find brined capers that use white wine vinegar and that is a-ok: just make sure the ingredients list specifies the type of vinegar used or skip ’em. Salted capers should just contain capers and salt. But if you use those bad boys, you’ll want to rinse the capers off so that you end up with an Italian Pâté that’s oversalted. You can always add more salt at the end, but you can’t take it away!
I finished this Italian Pâté recipe off with some fresh lemon zest and juice to elevate and also cut through the richness of the liver. I personally liked the punch of using the full 2 tablespoon amount, but if you’re not sure or want something with a little less of a citrus kick, add 1 tablespoon at first, then add more to taste. I did end up adding an additional 1/4 tsp of salt at the end, too, but again, that’s totally to taste. See what you think and season accordingly!
Lastly, this does make a big batch. I find it’s a hassle to make smaller batches: I’d rather prep a bunch of liver in one sitting so I don’t have to do it again for a while! Then I use my simple method for freezing pâté in single servings so that I can just grab a “pâté puck” from the freezer a few hours before I want to enjoy it. This batch makes 23 oz or 650 g, which is almost 2 3/4 cups and the perfect amount to fill my favorite silicone tartlet mold, which makes 12 generous servings. If you want to make smaller servings, try this smaller mold which holds a little under 1 oz / 28 g per cavity.
If you want more pâté recipes and more details on my simple freezing method, check out this post!
This recipe was shared at the Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable.
- 1½ lbs / 680 g chicken livers
- ¼ cup / 60 ml lard or avocado oil
- 3 medium shallots
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 2 oz / 55 g can of flat anchovy fillets (about 9 fillets)
- ¼ cup / 56 g capers (see notes)
- 1¼ tsp ground sage
- 2 tsp fresh lemon zest (about 1 medium lemon)
- 1 - 2 tbsp / 15 - 30 ml lemon juice, to taste
- PREP: First, drain and trim your chicken livers. You'll want to cut off and discard any fatty pieces or stringy membrane between the two halves of each liver. Trim off any other little pieces of fat, fibers or bile you find and discard. Put your trimmed chicken livers into a bowl and place them in the fridge until you need them later. Peel, then slice the shallots. Peel and lightly smash the garlic cloves with the back of your kitchen knife. Drain the anchovy fillets of any oil they're in.
- FRY: Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the fat or oil to the skillet and, when it is hot, add the shallots, garlic, anchovy fillets and capers. Cook until the shallots begin to soften and turn golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 5 - 8 minutes. Add the chicken livers to the pan and sprinkle with the ground sage. Cook, turning once, until each side is opaque and just cooked through, about 3 - 4 minutes per side. There should still be just a little pink in the centers of the livers - you don't want to overcook them as that will create bitterness.
- BLEND: Remove the skillet from the heat and carefully transfer everything to a high powered blender, including any cooking liquid. Add the fresh lemon zest and 1 tbsp / 15 ml of the fresh lemon juice. Blend, scraping down the sides often, until the pâté is smooth and creamy. Taste and add more lemon juice and / or salt if you wish before blending a final time to combine all ingredients.
- STORE: You can pour the pâté into a large dish, or divide it into ramekins and keep in the fridge, with some cling wrap pressed onto the top for about 3 - 4 days. If you seal the pâté with a layer of melted fat before storing in the fridge, it will last a little longer as the fat solidifies and forms an airtight seal. Alternatively, you can freeze the pâté in individual servings using my easy method.
You can occasionally find brined capers that use white wine vinegar and that is a-ok: just make sure the ingredients list specifies the type of vinegar used or skip 'em. Salted capers should just contain capers and salt. But if you use those bad boys, you'll want to rinse the capers off so that you don't end up with an Italian Pâté that's oversalted. You can always add more salt at the end, but you can't take it away!
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