Chicken Liver Pate RecipeSeptember 7, 2010 Written by JP [Font too small?]
One of my favorite films of the past few decades is the modern classic, Defending Your Life. The comedic story follows the life and death of a meek character played by Albert Brooks. After passing away, he enters a sort of afterlife in which key moments of his life are replayed for him and a panel of judges. If you magically had the opportunity to review my life you’d see that about 15 years ago I was caught up in a destructive eating pattern. The drive-thrus of fast food restaurants were my mainstay. However, on this day, I spent the better part of my afternoon working on a homemade dish that I’m presenting to you as a healthy recipe. This reality would have seemed impossible to me 10, 15 or 20 years ago. But in the present it feels as natural as can be.
The mere mention of chicken liver strikes horror in the minds of many. Liver, of any kind, was never a favorite of mine while growing up. But my perspective on food is largely different these days. My general feeling is that any edible portion of a food source should be put to use whenever possible and safe to do so.
The most effective way to change someone’s mind about an ingredient is by preparing it well. A few months ago, Mrs. Healthy Fellow and I visited a neighborhood restaurant that features liver pâtés and terrines as appetizers. We decided to be adventurous and tried a few. After all, such starters are perfectly suited for low carbohydrate diets. Much to my surprise, I loved them! In fact, I can’t wait to get back to this eatery so that I can enjoy them again.
From a nutritional standpoint, chicken livers are powerhouses of minerals and vitamins. Chief among them are choline and Vitamin A. The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University points out that choline, a member of the B-Vitamin family, plays an integral role in cell signaling, cognitive functioning, fat metabolism and the prevention of neural tube defects. The National Institutes of Health asserts that Vitamin A is necessary to ” maintain healthy teeth, skeletal and soft tissue, mucous membranes, and skin” and that deficiencies render one “susceptible to infectious diseases and vision problems”. A one ounce serving of chicken liver yields 75% of the RDA for Vitamin A and over 80 mg of choline. (1,2,3)
Chicken Liver Pâté w/Balsamic Shallots
1 lb organic chicken livers
4 oz organic white wine
4 anchovy fillets
4 organic garlic cloves
3 Tbs organic capers
3 Tbs organic sage and thyme (fresh)
2 tsp of freshly ground truffles *
NutraSalt or salt to taste
2 large, organic shallots
2 Tbs organic Balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs organic extra virgin olive oil
NutraSalt or salt to taste
* Natural truffle oil or truffle salt can be used in place of the whole truffles.
Nutritional Content: Calories: 210. Protein: 20 grams. Fat: 10 grams. “Net” Carbohydrates: 4 grams. Fiber: 2 grams. Based on 6 servings.
Heat olive oil in a small fry pan over medium heat. Slice the shallots and saute in olive oil for 5 minutes. Turn the shallots regularly for even cooking. Reduce the heat to low and add the balsamic vinegar. Cook for 15 minutes and then turn off the flame. Allow the balsamic shallots to rest in the pan.
Wash the chicken livers and remove any visible fat. Drain the livers well and set aside. Dice the garlic. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan on a medium flame. Add the anchovies, capers and garlic to the pan. Next, add the chicken livers. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes. Pour in the white wine. Turn the heat up to high and allow all the ingredients to cook for another 5 minutes. Flip the chicken livers during the process to ensure they’re cooked through. Chop the fresh herbs. Turn off the heat. Grate the truffle and sprinkle the fresh herbs into the still hot pan. Mix well and allow to cool. Carefully place the cooled, solid ingredients into a food processor and puree. Slowly add the cooking liquid until the puree reaches a thickness/smothness that is appealing to you. Taste for seasoning and salt accordingly.
Instead of serving the pate on baguette or crackers, we used fresh jicama slices. Jicama is a variety of tuber that has a crisp texture and taste that is somewhat reminiscent of a slightly sweet and mild radish. It’s a good source of dietary fiber, potassium and Vitamin C while boasting a low carbohydrate content – 5 “net” carbs/cup. Eight ounces of sliced jicama, a rather large serving, contains only 45 calories, 6 grams of fiber, 40% of the RDA of Vitamin C and 180 mg of potassium. In addition, the fiber contained in jicama is considered functionally relevant in that it may improve the absorption of minerals and promote satiety because it’s particularly viscous. (4,5,6)
The balsamic shallots should be placed on top of the jicama-pâté hors d’oeuvres. They provide a savory/sweet counterpoint and texture to the rich spread. The balsamic vinegar that we chose, Napa Valley Naturals brand, is lower in sugar than many competing brands. Each tablespoon add only 2 grams of naturally occurring sugar to the recipe, compared to 5 grams in similar vinegars.
The addition of balsamic vinegar contributes a compelling and unexpected bouquet of flavors to the crispy shallot topping. But it also ups the antioxidant content of the dish itself. Several recent studies have reported that this prized condiment is capable of limiting oxidative damage in both human and laboratory models ranging from cancer to cardiovascular disease. (7,8,9)
Over the past few decades, much has been written about the health benefits of red wine. On the other hand, white wine has largely assumed the identity of the “other wine” with little to no attributes beyond its alcohol content. But that point of view appears to be misguided to a certain extent. Scientific publications from 2008, 2009 and earlier this year reveal that white wine: a) contains a different class of antioxidants (hydroxycinnamic acids) than red wine; b) may be more effective than red wine and resveratrol in promoting longevity (“anti-aging”) proteins; c) “can provide cardioprotection similar to red wine” if it contains adequate levels of it’s own variety of antioxidants. (10,11,12)
In this recipe I was reminded of how much I’ve changed in recent times. I share this with you not because I wish to be boastful in any way. Believe me, there’s still a great deal of room for improvement in my life. Rather, I simply want to convey that where I’m at today is a far shot from where I ever imagined I could or would be. And yet, here I am. I’m enjoying – really enjoying – a freshly sliced piece of jicama with homemade pâté and grilled shallots. I think it tastes fantastic and I made it myself. It’s so much better than anything I could ever pick up at a fast food joint. But what’s best of all is that I get to pass this recipe along to you. The health discoveries I make on a daily basis have so much more meaning because I have interested readers with whom I can share them. It makes all the difference and I thank you for it.
Tags: Choline, Herbs, Vinegar
Posted in Nutrition, Recipes