Using inexpensive but delicious ingredients, David Chang, chef at Bespoke Craft Foods in Liberty Village, puts a spin on the classic chicken liver pate by pairing it with a lovely wild blueberry compote.
Photo: Wild Blueberry Association of Canada and Robert Greatrix / Evergreen Brick Works
In a small sauce pot over medium-low heat, add butter, and sauté minced shallot until tender, adding a pinch of salt to prevent caramelization.
Once the shallots are nice and soft, add the ground coriander to give a very quick toast. Add the wine and sugar, reduce the wine by half and then add 1/2 of the wild blueberries, cook down until the mixture coats the back of the spoon.
Add the remaining wild blueberries and stir in lemon juice. Let cool in the fridge uncovered. Once the compote is cooled, pack it up until it's ready to be used.
Rinse well sourced chicken livers under cold water in the sink and drain. Separate the livers into individual lobes, discarding the stringy membrane which holds them together, place the livers in a bowl, soak in milk, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight. (This technique will draw out excess blood in the livers, which will prevent the pate from having cloying taste of iron - don't skip this step!)
Preheat an oven to 400F, and place a large cast-iron pan inside (This is to have the pan thoroughly heated when you're ready to sear your chicken livers).
Drain the chicken livers in a colander over a work sink, or into
another bowl and discard. Be sure to give the colander a few gentle shakes to get rid of the residual pink milk.
Pour the chicken livers onto a plate, or a cookie sheet, lined with several layers of paper towel. Dry the livers thoroughly and season with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Let the seasoning absorb into the meet for at least 10 minutes before cooking.
When you are ready to cook, place just enough grape seed oil or vegetable oil to coat the cast iron pan; at medium-high heat, carefully place the chicken livers into the pan being sure to leave enough space around each lobe (about a cm) so as to not over crowd the pan and drop the heat. Work in batches if necessary.
Once the livers are in the pan, add the springs of thyme and crushed garlic in some of the open spaces in the pan so as the infuse the oil and livers while they cook, remove the springs and garlic if you notice they are starting to burn. The ideal here is to get some nice browning on the surface of the livers while leaving a nice pink medium rare in the middle. Tend to the livers individually, flipping them as necessary for even colourization. Remove the livers from the heat and place on a clean plate when medium rare (liver will feel firm yet yielding), if you're not sure cut into one and take a look - the liver should be pink with a few red droplets of fat squeezing out the middle. Discard any remaining springs of thyme and cloves of garlic.
Remove the still hot pan from the heat. If the bits in the pan don't look burnt, deglaze with some whisky, port or red wine, lift the brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a spatula and pour over the livers.
Let the livers cool in the fridge uncovered until it comes down below room temperature.
Place the livers and the caramelized onions into a food processor and puree, adding in the cold cubes of butter individually as it's processing until you are happy with the consistency of the pate. Adjust the seasoning to your taste.
Pour the pate into terrines and knock out the air bubbles by tapping the bottom of the ramekin on a table top, coaxing the air bubbles up and out.
Cap the mixture with your wild blueberry compete and refrigerate. Serve at room temperature and enjoy with crusty bread or melba toasts.