DEBORAH CROMBIE: Picture a cold, clear day in in London a few weeks back. I had missed lunch and walked miles. And miles. At last, just a bit before seven o'clock, I reached St. Pancras Station. In those hours of walking I'd decided I would treat myself to dinner at Carluccio's in the upper concourse at St. Pancras before heading back across London to my temporary flat. There was a queue snaking from the entrance to the restaurant's patio--a half hour wait. I'd hit it right at the busiest time.
So I waited, my company "the lovers" (the sculpture is by Paul Day, and its actual title is The Meeting Place, but most people simply call it "the lovers") and the wonderful bronze of the poet John Betjeman, who was instrumental in saving St. Pancras from the developers' wrecking balls. Shivering, I contemplated what I'd order from the restaurant's fixed price menu. Chicken liver pate
for the starter, I thought, then ravioli.
When my turn came to be seated it was worth the wait. I got a table under a heat lamp on the patio, with a perfect view of the arriving and departing Eurostar trains. Bliss, made even better by a glass of wine and the day's newspaper.
And then the pate arrived, in a perfect little pot, with crisp slices of toast and onion relish. I had eaten Carluccio's chicken liver pate before, a number of times, and loved it. But that night I thought I had never tasted anything quite so good.
I came home dreaming of chicken liver pate. (I think I was missing London, and the small but perfect moment of that dinner...) I soon discovered that almost every famous chef has a chicken liver pate recipe. But which one to try? I decided I would start with one by Felicity Cloake, the food writer for The Guardian, who deconstructs chicken liver pate in a great article. I even bought my very own pate dish to put it in.
The result? Fabulous, even on a first try. (Although I would need to double the recipe to fill my dish.) I can't say it's as good as Carluccio's, not without tasting them side by side, but close enough to make me happy. But I am certainly will to try a few more recipes!
Here is Felicity's
Perfect Chicken Liver Pate
350g chicken livers, cleaned
175g butter, diced
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tsp thyme leaves, finely chopped
75ml double cream
½ tsp salt
1 allspice berry, ground
¼ tsp ground ginger
Cut the livers into roughly 1.5cm pieces, and heat a knob of butter in a
frying pan over a medium heat. Add the shallot and thyme and soften,
then turn up the heat to medium-high, add the livers and saute for a
couple of minutes until browned on the outside but still pink inside.
Tip into a food processor.
2. Add the madeira to the pan and
boil until reduced to a couple of tablespoons. Tip into the food
processor, add the cream, salt and spices and whizz until smooth. Add
all but 75g of the butter, and whizz again. Taste for seasoning and
adjust if necessary.
3. Pass through a sieve into a serving dish and chill for half an
hour. Melt the remaining butter and pour on top, then refrigerate until
And here is a photo of mine.
REDS and readers, do you have a chicken liver pate recipe? Please share!
And have you ever tried to recapture a perfect moment with a recipe?
PS And just in case you're wondering, yes, I managed to eat the ravioli, too:-)