Dee’s Chicken Liver Pate with Cognac and Figs

2009 Nov/Dec

This smooth and simple pate is more like a mousseline, unctuous and rich. Serve with fresh figs and crusty fig-anise bread.


  • 1/4 c. minced dried black Mission figs
  • 1/4 c. cognac or port
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 – 4 T. unsalted butter
  • 1 lb. chicken livers, cleaned and patted dry
  • 1/2 t. dried basil
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper or quatre épices (see recipe page 28) to taste
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened (optional)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c. whipping cream (optional)
  • 2 T. minced fresh thyme
  • melted butter for the top of the ramekins


Macerate the figs in the port or cognac. Sauté the onion and garlic in a little butter until tender and translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the pan. Raise the heat under the pan and add a little more butter. When it foams, add the chicken livers in small batches and sauté until medium-rare, sprinkling each batch with dried basil and salt and pepper or quatre épices to taste. Deglaze the pan with the cognac from the figs – reserve the figs – after the last batch of livers is cooked. Purée the chicken livers with the deglazing liquid, onion and garlic, blending until perfectly smooth. Add the optional butter and cream, reserved figs and thyme. Taste and adjust the flavour with more salt if needed. Pack into small ramekins, cover with melted butter, wrap well and chill for at least one day before serving. Makes 6 ramekins.