Chicken Liver Pate- Ba Te Gan Ga

Vietnamese food

Make  6-8 servings as an appetizer
1 1/2 lb chicken liver, washed and trimmed off any fat, connective tissues
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 egg
1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 shallot, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground black or white pepper
1 bay leaves
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 Tbs brandy or cognac
2 Tbs butter
Green onion, cilantro, parley, red chili, tomato peel for decoration (option)
Toasted baguette slices or crackers
Six to eight 6 oz ramekins or one 9x3x3 in 24x9x9 cm) terrine or loaf pan
  1.  In a small skillet, heating butter over medium high heat.  Stir in onion, garlic until fragrant, then add bay leave and thyme if use.  Add heavy cream, turn down the heat to medium and cook  to reduce the sauce in half.  Pour in wine if use, simmer 30 seconds and remove from heat. Set aside to cool down before add to the puree liver.  Discard bay leave.
3.   In a food processor, puree the liver until smooth.  Add egg , cream mixture, sugar, salt, fish sauce, pepper, process until smooth about 1 minutes.  Strain the liver puree through a medium mess sieve if you want a really fine texture .  Cook a small piece in microwave for 10-15 seconds until no pink, taste and adjust seasoning.
4.  Put the mixture into prepared ramekins.  Decorate with herbs and green onion if preferred.  Cover with the lids or foil.  Steam 30-40 minutes or bake in water bath at 350 oF for 20-30 minutes until a knife or chopstick inserted into the center come out clean with clear juice running, and the top is lightly domed.  Instant thermometer will read 160 oF.  Remove the mold, uncover, let cool completely, then cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight but you can eat right away. An aspic jelly or a fat layer (clarified butter or bacon fat)can be add atop of the  pate.
Serve cold or at room temperature with toasted bread or crackers, and pickles or chutney.  Pate can be serve in ramekins or unmolded and cut into thick slices on a platter.

 Aspic Jelly
3/4 cup chicken stock or water
4 tsp red wine or white wine:  port, sherry /dry-semi dry, brandy (optional)
1 tsp  unflavored gelatin

After the pate cool down, put it in the refrigerator.  Then start to make aspic.
Sprinkle gelatin on top of 2 Tbs chicken stock or water, set aside for 5 to 10 minutes.  Bring the remaining chicken stock or water  to a gentle boil and add wine.  Remove from heat and stir in gelatin until dissolved.   Let it cool down and start to get shiny and syrupy texture.  May put the pot on ice and stir constantly.  Immediately pour on top of cold pate to form at least 1/4-in thick.  If it becomes too hard, remelt it and start again.

* Note:
   Bread slices can be toasted lightly with olive oil and garlic.   Spreading bread slices on a baking sheet, sprinkle olive oil and garlic powder.  If you use fresh garlic, just crush 1 or 2 garlic cloves and spread on the bread.
   If you do not want to use fish sauce, increase salt to 1 tsp.  Vietnamese cooks sometimes do not use fish sauce either but I found a liver pate recipe used anchovy and replace it with fish sauce.
   Some recipes stir fry or poach the liver with other ingredients  first and puree later. and use a lot of butter.
   A small amount of ground pork  and pork fat maybe use with chicken liver.
   Baking in the hot water bath product a smooth texture than steam.
   When being covered with plastic wrap, aspic or butter, pate can be refrigerated for a week.
   The top pate will be discolored to grayish and pink color gets intense underneath if store without aspic or fat seal but the grayish color is not harmful.
   If you want poach chicken liver, stir fried onion and garlic first, then add 1 cup water with the chicken livers and other ingredients except, egg and heavy cream.  Bring it to a boil and lower the heat down to bare simmer,cover and simmer for 7-8 minutes.  Remove from heat, let it sits for another 5 minutes. Strain and reserve the liquid to make aspic.   Then whip the egg and heavy cream with a dash of salt in a heatproof bowl on hot water or use a double boiler until warm and thicken about 7 minutes ( just enough time for the egg to cook like you make pastry cream).   Puree liver with the cream mixture until creamy and smooth.   This way is faster and it is more like a mousse.

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