I loved the holidays as a child. Holidays meant crazy Denver blizzards, Peter Paul and Mary on the record player, delicious flavors & bites of goodness and the parties we had with lovely friends.
My parents had a knack for throwing great parties. My mom always set a beautiful table, sparkly candles were put out with the decorations, my dad readied the old bar with cocktail ingredients and bottles of wine, and I loved getting dressed up right before people arrived. There was such anticipation and joy over putting together a celebratory meal to share with people. Even the cuisine at those parties, smoked salmon, sour dough beef dip, Fondue Chinoise, made everyone feel special.
Thanksgiving was no different.
As I’ve grown and traveled and sampled so many wonderful, different cuisines around the world, my tastes have changed. Now my favorite part of Thanksgiving eating has nothing to do with the traditional menu for most people. I’m not a huge turkey fan, although I do make a killer roast turkey. I can take or leave mashed potatoes, even creamy garlic roasted ones; I have never liked stuffing, and green bean casserole or creamed corn, uhhhm, no thank you. And no matter what I do I can’t seem to get my gravy to taste as fabulous as my mom’s. Isn’t that true for so many of us?
But I still love putting together a meal to enjoy with loved ones.
My favorite part of Thanksgiving has become the planning, the preparation, the list making, the grocery shopping, the attempt to create that special environment like my parents did. And of course, one fabulous treat that has been a part of my family’s holiday traditions for as long as I can remember, chicken liver paté. Because in the end it always does come back to the food.
So much of Thanksgiving Day and the day before is spent prepping, baking and cooking that it’s nice to have some snacks to keep you going. This recipe for chicken liver paté seems both elegant and rustic to me at the same time, and I never tire of the taste. And no matter where we all are it also makes me feel connected to my family.
Years ago when my parents first made this paté it was my dad’s recipe. “Is Dad making his paté?” One (or all) of us inquired. Then over the years, in my mind, it became my mom’s recipe probably because I was around her more often when she made it. “Please tell me you are making paté.” I would beg. Now it belongs to all of us. It’s my brother’s recipe as he changes the brandy to red or white wine, sometimes adding no alcohol at all he tells me over the phone as we menu plan. It’s my sister’s recipe she makes for friends or a girls’ wine night, calling me to check the measurements; we digress into how special and delicious it is. And it’s my recipe, as each year I fiddle with whether to use onions or shallots, or how a different brand of curry can change the flavor in a heartbeat. It’s one of those recipes that always flavors our holiday conversations over the years and across the miles that separate us, like the warmest and most interesting of old friends you always want to visit with.
It’s a recipe that’s too good not to share, and it’s so easy it’s almost ridiculous. Serve it with a chewy baguette or some simple crackers, the plainest crackers you can find like a saltine, a Bremner wafer, or Blue Diamond’s Hint of Sea Salt Gluten-Free crackers. You can even make an easy hors d’oeuvre platter with crackers, paté, some cornichons or Castelvetrano olives, and fig jam. It pairs deliciously with a brandy cocktail or glass of red wine, even with the Shirley Temple cocktails I used to drink as a kid.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone, I hope you are healthy, happy, and surrounded by good people and of course, a savory feast.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 3 oz. cream cheese
- 1/2 pound chicken livers
- 6 tablespoons chicken broth
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons brandy, Cognac or red wine
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2-1 teaspoon curry
- dash or two of cayenne
- salt and pepper to taste
- Soften butter and cream cheese.
- Put liver, broth, onion and brandy in a pan. Bring to a boil, cook 5 minutes.
- Pour liver mixture into a blender. Add paprika, curry and cayenne and blend on high.
- With blades running, slice in butter and cream cheese, stopping to stir down sides.
- Add a dash of salt and pepper to taste.
- Chill for at least 2 hours. Serve.