I asked all of my siblings if they’d like to make a recipe and submit a guest post. My brother, Greg Ehrendreich, agreed. I sent him a few different recipes to choose from. He chose this one. If anyone else would like to submit a guest post, please contact me. If you’ve made one of these recipes and your take is different than mine, I’m interested in your thoughts. If you changed something up to make it gluten-free or healthier and had great results, tell me about it. If you have a recipe from your grandmother you’d like to use, I’d love to hear about it. If your grandma didn’t cook and you’d like to use one of my grandmother’s or great-grandmother’s, let me know.
When my work decided to hold a potluck holiday party, I knew where to turn for inspiration. My dear sister had been asking me to do a guest post for her blog, so I asked her to supply some recipes. She sent several options – a weird chopped herring recipe that had crumbled sponge cake (?!) in it, an orange meringue pie that would probably have been great but would not have traveled well on my bike commute, and Selma’s Chicken Liver Pâté, which is what I decided to make.
I know that my sister would have preferred that I make this recipe exactly as written, for the sake of authenticity, and then discuss how I would change it to modernize it. But look at that recipe and think about it a little bit and you’ll see how impractical that would have been. (I would’ve been fine with it in any capacity. I’m just excited that he wanted to play along.)
To start with, the recipe calls for ¼ lb each of chicken livers and mushrooms – but each of those comes in 1 lb quantities from the store and it wasn’t like I had another chicken liver recipe I was just aching to make. Therefore, I made a quadruple batch. In retrospect, that wasn’t a good call. Nobody needs that much pate. My wife and I both love liver, but even after taking half of it to the holiday party, I still had more left over than we could eat before tiring of it. Maybe someday I will thaw out the portion I put in the freezer to see if it froze well, or maybe someday I will just toss it out when I find it in a freezer burned lump forgotten in a back corner. Only time will tell.
Then there is the fact that 10 Tbsp. of butter times a quadruple batch = 40 Tbsp. of butter. That’s 5 sticks. I didn’t even have that much butter on hand, and if I had, I still just couldn’t. I used 2 sticks of butter for the quadruple batch. It was plenty.
Once it was bubbling away in the cast iron, wow did it start to smell great in my kitchen. I could have just dug in to that pan with a spoon and a loaf of good bread (if I wasn’t on a low carb diet since last September…another reason I didn’t make the pie).
Now, let’s talk about seasoned salt. I get it, it’s an old recipe. But I haven’t had plain old “seasoned salt” in my spice shelf for decades. What I did have though is Cavender’s All Purpose Greek Seasoning. Which is great stuff and I highly recommend it. My Chicago Greek coworker says that in his family they literally put it on everything. (This is where I insert that I would’ve used Penzey’s 4/S salt.)The Spotted Cow was not part of the recipe, but was a vital part of the cooking process. I was whipping this up after coming home from dinner at my mother-in-law’s house and had a pleasant buzz going so it would have been a shame to not keep riding that while I cooked. Spotted Cow is one of the benefits you get from having a sister who still lives in Wisconsin.
Once everything was all cooked and ready for blending, that’s when I realized that I had forgotten to hard boil the eggs. Thanks to my InstantPot, that hurdle was promptly overcome. The eggs was another place where I cut back from what was called for in the original recipe – I only did 4 eggs for the batch instead of 2 per recipe quadrupled to 8 because I was lazy and didn’t want to have to peel that many eggs. Sue me.
I am allergic to tree nuts, so I subbed in pine nuts for the pistachios. Lightly toasted the pine nuts in a dry pan until they were golden brown and added them at the end after the blending just as it calls for with the pistachios. I didn’t really measure, just used the whole package.
I also realized once I was all done and molded into bowls that I had forgotten to add the lemon juice, but I didn’t want to try to hand mix that in or re-blend it and lose the whole pine nuts into the mush. It wasn’t vital. Your mileage may vary.
The result was not pretty. It was a grey lump. It might have looked nicer if I had some kind of fancier mold instead of just a metal mixing bowl. It was prettier in cross section, though.
Reactions from my coworkers were mixed. I solicited their feedback and prepared a chart. My sister may have mentioned that she has one nerdy brother and one artistic brother. Guess which one I am…
Here’s my thoughts on improvements to the recipe:
- Don’t quadruple it. Find something else to do with ¾ of a pound of chicken livers. Nobody wants that much pate.
- As I noted before, you definitely don’t need that much butter. For a single recipe, I wouldn’t go over a single stick. Probably only a half stick.
- It definitely could take some additional spice beyond what the seasoned salt provides. A heavy hand with some coarse black pepper would have been a good start, as one of my coworkers noted. It is very sweet and rich so additional spice would have helped balance it.
- The lemon juice that I forgot might have also helped balance the sweetness with some acid. Cider vinegar would work well as a substitute there and would give a different flavor profile.
- Some kind of final add-in – like the nuts – is definitely necessary to provide contrasting texture. You could get fun with this. Chopped cornichons, different kinds of nuts (if that’s your thing), coarsely-chopped hard boiled eggs (in addition to or subbed in for part of the blended-in ones), capers, chives, crispy bacon bits…you could really change it up with your choice of accessories.
Thanks, Sis, for the recipe and the opportunity to share it with your audience. (Thanks, Greg, for doing this!)