Back in October I received an unexpected but very welcome birthday gift from a dear friend: a turntable. I’ve had a small collection of records that have been traveling from apartment to apartment with me and finally I had a vehicle on which to play them whenever I wanted. I also went on a bit of a record buying spree, picking up some albums that I’ve long wanted on vinyl but couldn’t justify because, well, I didn’t have anything on which to play them. I had some great fun over the holiday season decorating the apartment to the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack and playing some mellow jazz on New Year’s Day, but what I was looking forward to most was the simple act of coming home, pouring myself a glass of something, and letting the stress of the week go as I listened to the sweet strains of John Coltrane Live at the Village Vanguard or started a mini dance party set to Otis Blue.
Despite being a short week due to President’s Day, last Friday I resolved to do exactly that; as a bonus I even had a happy hour snack to go along with the festivities. On Monday I made this chicken liver pate parfait that was covered in a homemade orange jelly that I had wanted to try for ages; on that day I whipped up a little socca to go along with it but on Friday I instead just ate it straight from the ramekin and it was delightful and kept me from eating a ridiculous amount when we went out later.
Making this is pretty simple, save for one factor: time. In order to have everything layer properly, you want to make the pate first and then give it time to set up in the fridge. (Given the copious amount of butter in the recipe I used the freezer to move things along and it did work.) Once the liver mixture is set, you want to be able to float the orange slice on top of it and then layer the liquid jelly over everything, and then let that stand for at least two hours for the gelatin to take effect.
The combination of orange and chicken liver is unexpected–Rachel Khoo was inspired by a dish she had at one of Heston Blumenthal’s restaurants in which a mandarin orange ended up containing foie gras and chicken liver inside of it–but it’s tasty. It also makes me want to explore the other possibilities of fruit and meat spread, like putting peaches on top of the pork belly rillettes and layering peach jelly over top of it. Working with the sheet gelatin was surprisingly easy: all you have to do is proof it in cold water, drain it and place it in a bowl; the orange juice and sugar get heated up in a saucepan and then poured over the gelatin to dissolve it.
You can serve this with basically anything: toast, socca, Wasa crackers, you name it. It’s a nifty presentation to use for entertaining or simply diving in and enjoying some of it on an unseasonably warm Friday evening.
Chicken Liver and Orange Parfait
adapted from Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook
Makes 2 ramekins of spread
- 1/4 cup butter (half of one stick)
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 5 ounces chicken livers, drained and trimmed
- 1 tablespoon dry red vermouth
- 1 sheet silver gelatin
- 1/3 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 small orange
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Make the chicken liver mousse: in a small saucepan, heat about a teaspoon of the butter on moderate heat and when melted and slightly foaming, add the shallot, thyme, and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes or until the shallot is softened but not browned. Add the livers and the vermouth and cook the livers on medium-high heat for about 2 minutes per side so that the meat is slightly pink inside. Remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes before moving it to a food processor or a work bowl for an immersion blender; season with salt and pepper and process until smooth. Divide between two ramekins and cover well with cling wrap, and let sit in the fridge for at least an hour or the freezer for 20 minutes to set.
Make the orange jelly: soak the gelatin sheet in cold water for about 5 to 10 minutes before carefully draining it, squeezing out excess moisture and place it into an empty bowl. Supreme the orange by carefully removing the skin and pith, and then slice into rounds. Combine the orange juice with the sugar in a saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved, and then pour the juice over the gelatin with a fine-mesh strainer. Stir until the gelatin has dissolved in the bowl.
Make the parfait: take out the ramekins from the fridge, and carefully place a round of orange slice on top of each ramekin, and then divide the orange jelly between the two ramekins to cover. (It will still be very liquid at this stage.) Wrap with cling and let set in the fridge for at least two hours before serving.