Thursday, 30 December 2010

Chicken Liver Pate and other Festive Food

After looking at all the ingredients of the full range of festive pates in the supermarket I was rather disappointed to see that only one contained no wheat or rusk and therefore was fine for me to eat. Huh!
So to satisfy the craving I turned to a Christmas recipe book that I've had for a while now.

The recipe is for Chicken Liver Pate, and in the past I have had trouble finding chicken livers. Perhaps it was because I wasn't looking in the freezer section, or maybe because they are only on the shelves near Christmas. I have tried it with lambs liver and pigs liver, but both were nowhere near as nice. So after finding a tub of frozen chicken livers in Morrisons for a few pence I was happy. Not only would this be gluten free but also far cheaper than pre-packed pates and actually far more tasty and luxurious.

Here is the recipe:
200g butter
225g trimmed chicken livers
2 tbsp Marsala or brandy
1.5 tsp chopped fresh sage
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
150ml double cream
Salt and pepper

1. Melt 40g of butter in a frying pan and fry the chicken livers over a medium heat for about 4 mins each side. They should be browned but still a bit pink in the middle.  Then chop finely in a food processor.
2. Stir the Marsala or brandy (brandy in our case) into the pan, mixing in any bits left over, then add this to the food processor. The recipe in the book didn't actually indicated if the alcohol should be cooked or not but I thought it was best to let it bubble a bit.
3. Add the sage, garlic and 100g of the butter and whizz until smooth.
4. Spoon the pate into ramekins and let it cool. Once completely cooled, melt the remaining butter and spoon it over the surface and garnish with a sage leaf if you want.


Chicken Liver Pate
This pate formed our late breakfast on Christmas day, together with a glass of chilled Camel Valley Sparkling Rose which we bought from the vineyard on our Cornwall trip last summer.


Camel Valley Sparkling Rose

We ate Christmas dinner around 4pm this year following Tim's night shift, but it did mean no early get-up to start the preparations. Plus it was just the two of us so no massive turkey to put in the oven at stupid o'clock.

Now anyone who knows me would know that to me, stuffing is the main event for Christmas dinner, closely followed by gravy. And for our Christmas dinner I made 4 different types of stuffing. All homemade, and all with gluten free breadcrumbs - made from the stale crusts of Genius bread and other rolls that I had saved up in the freezer. The star of the stuffing show is the lovely sausagemeat stuffing. This is based on a recipe that my Mum always makes from the fantastic Dairy Book of Home Cookery (1968 version!) and uses around 500g of sausagemeat, the same amount of breadcrumbs, "some" mixed dried herbs and an egg to bind. I like a lot of herbs, but my Mum would put her absolute maximum in of about one teaspoon. I use about 1-1.5 tablespoons! This was made with the sausagemeat from 500g of sausages that we had bought from a butcher on our trip to Ambleside.
The next stuffings were the classic Sage and Onion, and two lots of Chestnut stuffing. For the sage and onion, I used both dried and fresh sage, but added the dried to the pan as I was sweating the finely chopped onion. The quantities of breadcrumbs I use for  these stuffings is vague, and I apologise, but I just used enough until it looked right. Plus in the past I have followed recipes for these stuffings, but breadcrumbs from gluten free bread seem to act differently and dry the whole mixture out so I tend to use less than stated in recipes. This sage and onion, again, was bound with an egg.
The first lot of Chestnut stuffing came from the Dairy Book of Home Cookery again, and was their recipe for Chestnut cream stuffing. The mixture consisting off cooked (home roasted and peeled) chestnuts, parsley, nutmeg and cream to bind.
After a brief survey of facebook friends I decided that this year I should try a chestnut stuffing recipe with meat too and plus I had found this recipe which looked quite interesting (and didn't contain sausagemeat).

The rest of our Christmas dinner included a butter basted turkey breast joint, which was rather surprisingly moist and tasty, honey roasted parsnips (which were going to be Nigella's Maple  roasted parsnips, but after seeing the crazy price of maple syrup in Morrisons, we decided on honey), sprouts for me, carrots, broccoli, M&S chipolatas in bacon (we were going to make our own, but the novelty of finding gluten free sausages as standard was too much to pass up!), Delia's bread sauce (with extra cloves) and shop bought cranberry sauce. And gravy.


Christmas Dinner

In the past I have made Delia's giblet stock with the turkey giblets and I was going to try this again this year. However, after calling most of the butchers in the area, and further afield it seemed that this idea was doomed as no-one could guarantee they would have any giblets in. So, back to chicken livers again. I did make a stock for the gravy with chicken liver, thyme, rosemary, parsley, onion, carrot and celery which smelled divine bubbling away for a few hours on the stove. Alternatively I had bought in some Bisto Best gravy granules in case all had gone wrong, as they are surprisingly gluten free.

To start we had a classic prawn cocktail, and we do admit to buying the sauce. We had intended to make Simon Rimmer's sauce but after needing to buy practically everything on the ingredient list we just bought a jar of sauce! And we finished with homemade sherry trifle. This was made with gluten free cake bars, and the shortcut option of Birds instant custard powder again gluten free, and far easier than the constant stirring and pouring combination of making homemade custard.


P.S. The silver balls were only on half the trifle as it seems their main ingredient is somehow wheat flour. Odd.

It does seem that if you have to eat gluten free or cater for someone who needs gluten free, even Christmas dinner isn't that difficult. Especially if you enjoy cooking and are able to cook most parts of the meal. As described there are some standard branded items which are perfectly safe and are not found on the free from
shelf. To me it is not all about the products that are available for special diets, (as some are not that great anyway), but being able to make a few small adjustments to still enjoy my favourite Christmas foods.

Anyway, yes there is a lot of stuffing, and I say is, because there is still some in the fridge now, but what is Christmas dinner without the leftovers being eaten for so long afterwards?

1 comment:

  1. Even as a gluten eater, I do find the amount of Pates and terrines (and plenty of other stuff with no obvious bread connection) with 'rusk' in them to be a bit trying. Still, yours looks beautiful!

    Happy new year! (Greedy Rosie)

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