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.

Popular Posts