Cream Cheese Chicken Liver Pate with Black Walnuts

In honor of Wild Things Black Walnut month, I'm reposting this recipe.


I have this voice that speaks to me just before my moon, sometimes a whisper, sometimes a roar. I used to think that it was telling me to eat ice cream. But more and more, if I listen carefully, I'm pretty sure it's telling me to eat liver.
An important part of my journey has been learning to listen to my body's signals -intuition, hunger, pain. The body has it's own wisdom, primal and true. The trick is in learning to relax and trust in that wisdom.

Mind you, I'm not the biggest fan of liver. You know, it can have that liver-y taste. I like my liver two ways, either from a freshly killed animal (although fresh kidneys are my favorite!), or made into this pate recipe. I once had a friend tell me it was the best pate she'd ever had, so I shared my recipe. She went home and tried to recreate it, only she had to get all chef-y and add fresh herbs and some fancy booze, then she complained it wasn't as good. There's nothing fancy about this recipe, but high quality organic chicken livers don't need to be gussied up.

Cream Cheese Chicken Liver Pate

1. Saute 2-3 large onions (sliced) in chicken schmaltz or bacon grease, somewhat slowly, so they stay moist as they caramelize. The sauteed onions add a lot of sweetness to the recipe, so the more the merrier, imho. Once they have turned a deep golden brown (be patient, the flavor is worth it), place the onions in a food processor.

2. Prepare one pound of the best chicken livers you can get your hands on by patting them dry. In the same pan you used to cook the onions, over a low heat, cook the chicken livers in small batches. Think of this more like poaching in fat than sauteing. You want the livers to just barely cook through, so that they are still nice and rosy in the center. If they overcook, they get grainy and start tasting too strong. I like to cook them just to the point where they go from feeling squishy to feeling solid when I poke at them with my spatula. Add cooked livers to onions in food processor, and let them rest for 5-10 minutes.

3. Deglaze your pan with a little water, scrape up brown bits, let water reduce to almost nothing, and then pour it into the food processor with onions and liver.

4. Puree onions and liver until fairly smooth.

5. Add 8 oz. of cream cheese (cultured, if possible), and continue to process until velvety.

6. Season with salt, pepper, and a touch of sage powder. Go easy on the sage because it'll get stronger over time. My best advice is to add a little salt, whiz, then taste, over and over again. It takes some extra time, but there's a magical point at which the salt transforms the mixture from liver-y glop to divinely sweet pate.

7. Pour into jars or molds while still warm.

I can't remember why I chose to use cream cheese to begin with - either I was out of butter, or had no idea how pate was made to begin with. Either way, the cream cheese works really well to sweeten and smooth out the liver flavor.

The texture is slightly changed, but this pate takes pretty well to freezing. I like to pull a jar out of the freezer once a month, when the voice demands it.

*Update - On a whim, I added a small handful (maybe 1-2 oz, those little buggers are hard to pick!) toasted black walnuts to the batch I made today, and the resulting taste was outstanding! They added a lovely depth without taking over the flavor. Of course, the nuts are optional, but if you can get your hands on some, then be sure to try it. It's like having a little festival celebrating some of the loveliest fats in the world - schmaltz, liver, cream, and nuts.

I'm sharing this recipe with Pennywise Platter at the Nourishing Gourmet, and Real Food Wednesday, Pennywise Platter Thursday.


  1. oh, I just adore liver. especially chicken livers. I need to find a good source for them!! this looks really good! :)

  2. I had to hurry up and photograph the pate before I ate it all!

  3. I love pate! Never knew I loved pate until a few months ago when I made it the first time. I make a batch of it and freeze it in small portions. Then pull it out of the freezer for baby and me to enjoy for lunch and snacks (he loves pate too). I share with hubby too if he asks for it since I'm a nice wife :-)

  4. Lucky baby! I don't share with anyone!

  5. Fabulous recipe. I would like to have you post a guest blog on my site, You are a great role model and I love you recipes.
    Nancy Deville
    Author Death by Supermarket, The Fattening, Dumbing Down, and Poisoning of America

  6. Nancy, hi! I thought your book really hit the nail on the head, and reinforced what I have come to believe. We have all been poisoned, in body and mind.

  7. So can I make this with beef liver? Because that is what I have an abundance of. I so want to like liver. I wonder if I could talk my girls into eating some when their moon comes along.

  8. Christy - Go for it! I think chicken liver is best, but if you're not a liver lover, the onions and cream cheese in this recipe go a long way to mellow the flavor. I've made it with deer liver before and it was pretty good.

  9. I only 'discovered' pate about a year ago and have so far only purchased it. I'll have to give this a try

  10. sunnsalt- I really think this is a great recipe. If I could get certain folks to overcome the way it looks, I'm sure pretty much anyone would like it. It's rich and savory and yummy.

  11. You are BRILLIANT. I love chicken livers and pate, but never think to make my own pate. Brilliant.

  12. Love it. I can only stomach liver a couple of ways-- one is in a good pate, the other is very similar to a good pate. And I'm going to try this instead of chocolate next time.

  13. Belinda - It's easy to do at home, aside from ending up with a gooey foodpro. But I figure that's what dishwashers are for.

    Rebecca - I'd take liver over chocolate any day, but I think I'm in the minority there.

  14. I've had lever pate ONCE at a restaurant and was impressed by how much I liked it! This sounds excellent actually...maybe I should really get into cooking liver myself...

  15. I'd like to attend that festival :) This sounds great...I rarely eat chicken livers...not because I don't like them, just because I forget and nobody else reminds me :/ . This paté sounds delicious :D

  16. Take the plunge, Joanne!

    Heather - Maybe we should make that an official festival. Hmmmm.

  17. This looks yummy ;o) So how do you prepare beef kidneys? I have a package and havent a clue.

  18. I can't honestly say I've ever prepared beef kidneys. With deer/elk kidneys, I slice them into 1/2" slices, dust with a seasoned flour, and then saute them with butter and onions. But if you're afraid it's something your family won't eat, you can always grind them and use them in chili.

  19. I have never had liver (nor did I plan to try it ever) but I must say....I may just have to try this recipe! You actually have me wanting to try this! Visiting from Real Food Wednesday!

  20. Hi,
    This post is so informative. I would love for you to come
    share it at FAT TUESDAY. I hope you will
    put FAT TUESDAY on your list of carnivals to visit
    and link to each week!

  21. This sounds like a liver recipe even I could love. Going to try it tonight.


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