The word pâté carries an air of sophistication with it. Chicken liver does not. Combine those livers, however, with a few select herbs and spices, along with some brandy and cream, and you have a delicacy that is sure to impress your palate as well as your friends.

Chicken Liver Pâté

If you want, you can soak the chicken livers in milk for an hour or so before proceeding with the recipe. This takes a bit of the edge off the livers and makes them taste milder.

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided

1/3 c. minced shallot

1 lb. chicken livers


1 clove garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. capers

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. anchovy paste (optional)

1/4 c. brandy

1/4 c. cream

Trim any fat or connective tissue from the livers and discard.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat and let the butter brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Do not let it burn.

Add the shallots and sauté for 1 minute.

Add the livers. Be sure to space them well in the pan so they can brown more easily. Sprinkle salt over the livers. Flip the livers when one side browns, about 2 minutes. Once the livers have browned, add the capers, thyme, garlic and anchovy paste, if using, and sauté another minute.

Take the pan off the heat and add the brandy. (Be careful when you return it to the heat, as it could flame up, especially if you are using a gas range. If it does, cover the pan for a moment.) Turn the heat to high and boil down the brandy to the consistency of syrup, about 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off heat and allow the mixture to cool.

Put the mixture into a food processor or blender and pulse a few times to combine. Add the remaining butter and the cream and purée. The mixture will look a little loose, but it will firm up in the fridge. Pack the pâté into ramekins or a small bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before using. Serve spread on crackers or baguette slices. Serves 16 as an appetizer.

Pair this pâté with Carr Vineyard and Winery’s 2014 Santa Ynez Valley CrossHatch “Depth,” a blend of 60% merlot and 40% cabernet franc. Artists create “depth” in their work by utilizing light and dark regions in an image to allow the piece to truly captivate its audience in an interesting and unique way. The co-fermentation of these two Bordeaux varietals yields contrasting flavors of soft baked plum and vibrant, spicy earthiness of radish and root vegetables. The rich and velvet-like palate feel of the merlot blends beautifully between the rugged and organic feel of the cabernet franc. This blend reveals its unique power midpalate, and gently winds down into a delicate and mellow finish.


John David Finley is a freelance writer and author of the cookbook, "Sacred Meals from our Family Table," which features Santa Barbara County wines. He can be reached at