Chicken Liver Pâté with Rum, Mango and Pickled Chillies
In my nostalgic journey through the past looking for the recipes that I've neglected or forgotten so far in this blog, I've arrived today at the mid to late 1980s. Not surprisingly, I'd come across Caribbean food by then, but only really the best known dishes like jerk chicken and goat curry. Around that time I became aware of a much wider range of flavours and styles in the Caribbean and Fusion restaurants in South London. This included very different recreations of dishes, like chicken liver pâté, that I thought I knew well.
This dish includes pickled chillies in the topping and I used pickled Havana Gold chillies that I grew last summer. This is a superb chilli to grow in the English climate with a mild, fruity, habanero-like flavour and a good colour. It's at its best grown in a greenhouse but it will also fruit well when grown in pots in a sunny spot. If you use commercial pickled chillies in this recipe, make sure that they're not so hot that they mask the flavour of the mango.
I prefer a lighter style of chicken liver pâté these days and this version is certainly not as heavy and full of fat as the kinds of pâté that I remember eating in the 1980s. It's also really straightforward to make and, if you don't fancy the little Caribbean touch, you can replace the rum with brandy, calvados or just some apple juice. A combination of fresh tarragon and thyme works particularly well in this pâté but you could substitute oregano for the tarragon, if that's what you have.
The topping provides a fruity and refreshing contrast to the earthier flavours of the pâté. It's not unusual to have a jellied topping with potted meats and pâtés but, for me, they can have a slightly rubbery texture. Of course, the point of those jellies is that they help to preserve the pâté and I'm certainly not claiming that this topping will do that for you. I've used Ultratex in this topping which, strictly speaking, is a thickener rather than a gelling agent and gives a thick but silky finish to the topping. You may need to play around a bit with the ratio of ingredients here to get the result you prefer since the juiciness of the lime, the water content of the mango and even the grade of Ultratex can vary.
This will serve 4 as a starter or as part of a light lunch. I suggest serving simply with toast and a light salad.
For the pâté:
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 small apple, peeled, cored and chopped into small pieces
250g chicken livers, cleaned and trimmed
3 tbsp dark rum
1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
1 tbsp tomato purée
2 sprigs (or more, if you fancy) tarragon and thyme, leaves removed and roughly chopped
For the mango topping:
200g ripe mango flesh
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of ½ lime
2 tbsp Ultratex
2 tsp pickled chilli pieces (vary according to your taste and the strength of the chillies)
Gently fry the shallot and apple in the butter until they soften without colouring. Add the chicken livers, increase the heat a little and continue frying, stirring frequently, for 5 or 6 minutes.
Add the rum, redcurrant jelly, tomato purée and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Continue frying and stirring for a minute or so until everything is well combined. Stir in the herbs and remove from the heat.
Add the mixture to a blender and whiz until smooth (you may need to scrape the mixture down once or twice). Divide the mixture between 4 ramekins and chill while you make the mango topping.
To make the mango topping, clean out the blender and simply add all the ingredients before whizzing to create a smooth, thickened purée. Spread the purée over the top of the pâté and return to the fridge to chill. You could decorate with one or more slices of pickled chilli if you fancy.