Sunday, December 23, 2012

Chicken liver paté: #SundaySupper is home for the holidays

Every family has its own holiday traditions. For example, my husband and I have had a fake banana on our Christmas tree since we first started living together more than 20 years ago. It's a little cracked now, but it still goes up on the tree every year. Another tradition we have is to buy one new ornament per family member per year. As time has passed, we have collected lots of fun things, which we love to unpack every year and exclaim, "Oh yeah, I remember that one! And this is one of my favorites. And so is this!" The tree gets more and more crowded every year, and that's just how I like it.

Of course, many of those traditions revolve around special foods. As a child, one of the holiday foods I looked forward more to anything else was my mother's chicken liver paté. It is still one of the best things I have ever tasted, even though it's hideous to look at. The first time I saw my mother making the stuff, I said it looked yucky. She told me, "Sometimes the best-tasting food is the ugliest. Try it before you make any judgments." So, with great trepidation, I did. And loved it.

Unfortunately, this post is not about her recipe, which is a secret process and recipe she invented and guards as though it could topple regimes. I have made attempts to duplicate it, trying several recipes that require baking in the oven in a pan of water (which is how my mother's recipe is made), but, although good, they just aren't worth the effort. In the last few years, I have turned instead to this much simpler recipe, which was adapted from a recipe in Allt om Mat, a Swedish food magazine. It's delicious, easily doubled (or even tripled), and easy to freeze. I always make a huge batch of the stuff and freeze about half. It never lasts long enough. It's especially good served with some sweet gherkins, but simply slathered on bread or crackers works just fine. Some of the butter may separate out during cooling, but you can mix it right back in to the paté. (Note that you will need a food processor or blender to make this.)


  • 1 lb frozen chicken livers, partially defrosted
  • 5 slices smoked bacon, diced
  • 1 stick butter (4 oz)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried thyme
  • 1-2 Tbsp brandy (optional)


  1. Melt the butter in a deep pan or a large pot over medium-low heat. 
  2. Add the diced bacon and onions and let the onions soften in the butter for about 10 minutes. (Keep the heat low to medium. You don't want the onions or the bacon to brown.)
  3. Roughly cut the partially defrosted chicken livers into pieces that are about an inch in size. Add the livers to the onions, butter, and bacon in the pan. Add salt, herbs, and brandy (if using). 
  4. Bring the mixture to a slow simmer and then let it simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. 
  5. Let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes. Then blend it until very smooth in a food processor or blender. (Let the machine run for a good, long time so that the mix is evenly smooth.)
  6. Taste the paté for seasoning. Add salt if needed while the mix is still hot and liquid.  
  7. Pour the mixture into containers to chill. It will set up on cooling. Spread the paté on bread or crackers and enjoy. 
This week, #SundaySupper is sharing all kinds of special family treats for the holidays. Check out all the goodies and don't forget to participate in the chat on Twitter by following the hashtag #SundaySupper at 7 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, 12/23/12. Also feel free to share your favorite holiday recipe on the #SundaySupper Pinterest board. 


Appetizers & Snacks


Main Dishes



The posts are more than recipes. They are also wonderful stories of holidays and traditions. Please take the time to visit and read each heartwarming one.


  1. What beautiful and fun traditions! I very much like the banana on the Christmas tree! ~ Bea @ galactopdx

  2. A banana, that´s funny! I had the same reaction to chicken liver pate the first time, and now love it. This recipe sounds good, though of course I´m interested in your mother´s secrets....! Happy Holidays!

  3. Much as I love liver pate, I've never made it. We have it coming up in our French Fridays with Dorie queue and I'm so glad to preview your recipe! It looks marvelous! xo

  4. I love pate but have never made it at home... can't wait to try this recipe! Merry Christmas! Thank you for being such a big part of #SundaySupper this past year!

  5. I love pate, but have never made it, so I can't wait to try this! Merry Christmas!

  6. I love your annual ornament tradition!

    I've made pate once before and the homemade version always tastes better than the store-bought. I love your easy recipe!

  7. I've never had pate. But looking at how much bacon and butter are in this recipe I definitely think I would enjoy it!

  8. Your mom's chicken liver pate reminds me of my grandma's cookie recipe. It is her close guarded secret. They are to this day the best cookies I have ever eaten but she refuses to reveal her secret. This recipe might not be your mom's recipe but it looks wonderful. I will have to save this for later because my family loves pate.

  9. Oh my - I never would've thought to make this at home! The boyfriend is going to be thrilled when I attempt to make this - YUM!

  10. I don't think I've ever had liver pate! It looks wonderful...a fruity red wine like zinfandel, or grenache would also be nice with this!

  11. My husband would love if we had this on Christmas! Hope you have a great holiday!

  12. Your mom was very correct! Sometimes looks are very deceiving when it comes to taste. Thank you for sharing this!

  13. I never tried brandy in a pate, sounds interesting! I give ornaments every year and try to base them one something special that happened for them that year.

  14. I have to hear more about this banana ornament! Too cute, love that. This is our third Christmas together and every year, we buy a special "non Disney" ornament from Disney (something that doesn't scream Mickey Mouse). Such a wonderful tradition to have :) Love this recipe too, I just showed it to my Mom and told her we should make it tonight. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!!!

  15. Drooool...I LOVE pate so much and yours looks so smooth and luscious. I don't think it looks ugly at all - I look at your pictures and all I can think is "I want to eat you right now!" I also love your tradition of collecting and giving ornaments every year. That's definitely something I want to incorporate into my Christmas rituals...although I might have to wait to move into a house so that I can get a bigger tree. Have a very merry Christmas with good food, friends and family!

  16. Funny how your mom won't give up her recipe. Keep working on it so you can share and record it for future generations.

    I collect the Swarovski crystal star ornaments each year and have done so for the past 12 years. It is so much fun to have an ornament that really does remind you of each Christmas.

  17. In my house chicken liver pate is chopped liver. All the same, all delicious, all of it can be consumed by me instantly. :-)

  18. My mom got me a new ornament every year for most of my life. I started getting them for The Hubby when we started dating, and for the little guy since he was born. We now can't fit them all on the tree. I have never tried Chicken Liver Pate - I'll have to give it a shot.

  19. I hope you enjoyed your Holidays and very Happy New Year to you and your family!

  20. I've been eating chicken liver pate since I was a little kid, and I love the stuff. We usually top it with a little bit of diced raw onion.