No one really likes to think about liver and where it comes from or what it does. And much like politics or Scientology or Kim Kardashian, people have a fairly strong opinion of it one way or the other. However, when transformed into a smooth parfait (in case you didn’t know, a pâté is a more coarse, textured version), you don’t even think about the fact that it’s made of liver. You just wish it weren’t a shared entree and you hope no one will notice if you eat the entire thing.
I love all rich and creamy foods whether sweet or savoury, and this parfait is no exception. Especially when it’s served with some toasted french bread and tiny cornichons. In fact, it’s possible that I crave a chicken liver parfait more often than a chocolate caramel parfait, but honestly they’re pretty much interchangeable for me. It really should be more socially acceptable to eat chicken liver parfait for dessert because I totally would if that was an option.
I almost feel as though knowing how a parfait is made spoils its image a little. But if you’re a true parfait lover then I’m sure you’ll get over it. Those perfect rectangular slices or sweet little pots of parfait are a far cry from the pile of dark red livers sitting on your chopping board. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make the picture of frying liver look more delightful. I’m a home cook, not a miracle worker.
Making the parfait does involve having to touch and inspect the livers to make sure they’re pristine before sautéing. They are strangely silky and fascinating to handle, unless you’re one of those squeamish types who makes irritating noises when you have to touch raw meat. Chicken livers are super cheap, but also you need some port which I had to buy especially because all I had was Bailey’s Irish Cream of questionable age. But overall I would rate it as a fairly positive experience and at the end you are rewarded with the most delectable spread for smearing on hunks of fresh warm bread. It admittedly looks unappetising after blending, but when you taste it for the first time and realise how amazing it is, you get the same warm feeling of smugness and relief as you do when you finally find a parking space at Westfield Bondi Junction. Parking there is ridiculous.
This is seriously so addictive and morish that I’m tempted to keep a jar in my handbag to whip out when I’m peckish, the way normal girls might carry a little bag of almonds or something. Surely much more enjoyable than some dirty old almonds.
Chicken Liver Parfait
Recipe adapted from A Table for Two
500g chicken livers, trimmed of sinew
150g unsalted butter (for blending with liver)
50g unsalted butter, melted (to seal the parfait)
25g unsalted butter (for cooking)
1 large shallot, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 sprig of thyme
1 fresh bay leaf
2 tablespoons olive oil
125ml pouring cream
2 teaspoon of salt
Freshly cracked pepper to taste
Clarify 200g of butter by melting the butter in a saucepan under low-medium heat. The butter will separate into 3 layers, impurities on top, clarified butter in middle and milky solid at the bottom. Skim off any impurities. Pour the clarified butter into a jug or jar and set aside to let cool, discard the remaining milky solids.
Heat a large frying pan with the olive oil, until hot. Sear the livers for 30 seconds on each side. Don’t over crowd the pan, do 2 batches if necessary. The liver should be firm but still pinkish inside. Remove liver from the pan and set aside.
With the same pan, melt the 25g of butter, saute the shallot and garlic until they are soft and translucent, then return the livers back in the pan with the thyme and bay leaf, pour the port to burn off the alcohol. Turn off heat and leave liver to cool slightly.
Remove thyme and bay leave and discard. Transfer sautéed liver into a food processor or blender with the pouring cream, 150ml of clarified butter, add the salt and pepper, then blend for 2 minutes on high until smooth.
Once the parfait is smooth, push the parfait through a fine sieve twice and scrape off any impurities and discard. Make sure sieve at least twice for a fine smooth consistency.
Transfer the parfait into a your preferred serving dish/bowl or jar.
Pour the remaining clarified butter over the top of the parfaits to seal. Cling wrap the parfaits and chill in fridge. The flavour will develop over the next week (even the next day will make a difference) but can be eaten as soon as the parfait is set.