Thursday, December 20, 2012

Recipe: Goat Liver Pate

I really hope that by the end of this sentence, you don't think I'm strange; but a friend of mind gave me some goat liver as a thank you gift.  Okay, maybe you think my friend is strange, but she's really, um... well, a lot like me.  So I guess we are both a little odd.

It was really special.  The goat spent a good chunk of his life living on our farm, being a real pain in the back. The number of times he stuck his horn up my back side, or tried to stick a different protuberance up there... I will tell you, goat kids loose their cute really, really fast when you deal with them on a daily basis. But I know he lived a good life, and I feel really privileged and glad I had the chance to give him the respect he deserves for providing us with this life sustaining substance.  

Having no idea what to do with goat liver, I decided to do some research.  There are surprisingly few recipes for goat liver on the internet, at least not many of them seem the kind of thing I would enjoy.  Nigella Lawson in Nigella Express has an amazing recipe for liver, which even the most squeamish of eaters (The Ancient being one of them) will not only eat, but scoff down and ask for seconds.

So next I turned to Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and read up about organ meats.  WOW!  There is some really good stuff in liver.  Lucky for me this was a young goat kid, raised ethically and with love.  There would be very few toxins if any in the liver.  From what I've read, it's some sort of magic food.  So my friend giving me liver was more like her giving me a magic ingredient.  

About the same time I had the opportunity to visit a new kind of shop, an Artisan Salumeria called The Whole Beast.  I only had a few minutes to chat with the very knowledgeable fellow running the place, but I got some good ideas for how to make pate and some pretty awesome pork product to put in it. 

Goat liver pate!  What a great idea.  I love pate.

Pate in the bowl, Ale Barm bread, and some red wine

I couldn't find one recipe for pate (goat or otherwise) that I liked.  There are some rather, um, what's the polite way to say this?  They differ greatly from what I always imagined pate to be, which is meat and spices in a spreadable consistency.  Some of the other recipes had boiled eggs, milk, cream... The recipe I developed (which turned out fantastic) is heavily inspired by three websites.  Farmlet being the biggest source of inspiration with a bit of this Tesco recipe for Lamb Liver Pate and this recipe from a site called redbrick.

I learned a lot researching and making pate.  First off, there is a huge amount of fat in pate.  The fat helps to preserve the pate and adds wonderful flavour.  Sure, it's good for your brain fat, but not really something to eat in large quantities very often.  A few tablespoons worth at a time would be far more reasonable.  But given how healthy it is for you, it is something you want to eat frequently.  Second off, raw liver is super-gross.  Like amazingly disgusting!  If the pate didn't taste so good, I don't think I would bother.  Thank goodness I like pate.  Third off, this is quite easy to make.  I gave myself a good four hours, and was done the hard part in about 25 min.  Another half hour for it to cool, 15 minutes in the blitzer (Dear Santa, I need a new blitzer), 3 min stuffing it into the container and decorating it, and then clean up time.

Please note, I'm not giving a quantity for the fats.  I found the bacon/pork varies in fat content so much, that it's hard to say just how much fat to use.

So here it is, my first take on

Goat Liver Pate

Duck fat (optional, replace with lard or more butter if you cannot get it)
Butter (I used goat butter)
1 small onion
300g liver (I used goat this time, but mutton, lamb, kid, beef or calf would do)
200g Bacon, salt pork or this yummy salted and super-smoked pork thing I found.
2 cloves garlic
1 small sprig each, sage, thyme and rosemary
1 tsp dejon mustard
1/2 cup red wine
1 tsp Balsamic vinegar (triple that if you are using liver from an adult animal)
salt and pepper to season

Also you might like some toppings like bay leaf, pepper corns, juniper berries, small herb sprig, or whatever.

  • Optional: soak the liver in milk for an hour or two before you start cooking.
  • Finely chop the onion and fry in about two tablespoons of duck fat on low while you get the rest of the ingredients ready.
  • Coarsely chop the herbs and garlic, set aside.  
  • Chop the liver and bacon/pork into about half inch chunks.  Add the pork, liver and 1 Tbs of butter to the onions when the onions start to go transparent. 
Just look at that lovely marbling and fat, it's where the flavour is!
Goat liver soaking in goat milk

onions and meat just starting to brown

  • Turn up the heat a bit and cook until the outside of the liver is nicely browned and it is almost but not quite cooked all the way through.
  • Add the wine, herbs, mustard, some ground pepper, garlic and balsamic vin to the pan.  Cook, stirring often, until all the liquid is just about gone.  A few things to note here: don't add salt just yet as this can sometimes toughen the liver.  Also, do not neglect the balsamic vin. as it helps remove any gamy taste that might be in the liver.  If you can't get it, use vermouth or sake, in a pinch apple cider vinegar will do.  
simmering away, almost ready, smells devine

  • Turn off the heat, and leave to cool.
  • Put the mix into the blitzer (blender) and blitz the heck out of it, stopping from time to time to stir it and make sure everything gets totally creamed.  You may need to add some more butter at this stage to make it the right consistency.   This is also the time to add more salt and pepper.  I found mine tasted a bit strong so I put a few drops of balsamic vinegar in as this helps mellow the liver taste.
  • When it is creamy, pack it into your pate dish.  You can use any sort of dish that's easy to get a knife in and scoop out the pate.  I don't actually have a proper dish, so I used an Onion soup bowl and a tumbler.  
pate before the final layer

  • Pat down the pate, you might need to massage it a bit in place with a wooden spoon to get all the air bubbles out.  If there is any warmth left in the pate at this stage, leave it on the counter to cool completely.  (my blender kind of overheated and made my pate warm again, hint hint Santa)
  • Top with your decorations, I used sage leaf, bay, and juniper berries.
  • Melt some duck fat and butter (1 part duck fat to 5 parts butter) or just use straight butter.  Make sure it's enough to cover the surface of the pate, about 1/8th of an inch thick, or more.  Poor the fat/butter on top of the pate.  This helps to seal out the air and makes the pate last longer.  Also, it adds flavour as the pate seasons over time.
  • Leave to cool completely  before warping.  This leaving to cool business is actually very important as it helps prevent the pate from spoiling due to condensation/moisture.
I think this will keep in the fridge for at least a week, probably two or three, so long as the fatty top layer is not disturbed.  Once it's broken into, eat within three days.  It's better to use smaller dishes for this reason.

you can see how thick the top layer of butter/fat is
it may seem scary, but it helps the pate keep longer and
is full of flavour.
Besides, you don't have to eat it if fat scares you.

I'm really keen to make this for bento, as I bet if I make it in silicon muffin cups, freeze it, then pack it in the bento it would be exceptionally yummy.  

Vegan friendly? NO!  go google 'mushroom pate vegan' if cooking for vegetarians or vegans.
Allergy: There is some room to adjust for allergies, there seems to be thousands of variations on liver pate, so if there is a specific ingredients that you can't have, you could try a different recipe.  Although this one is using a stronger tasting liver than most, so it really helps to have the wine and balsamic vin.  


  1. I should mention, replacing the butter and fat with vegetable oils makes this no-longer brain healthy food.

  2. AnonymousJuly 20, 2013

    yum. trying to figure out a recipe, too. you have a lot of good ideas. i hadn't realized the fat on top was to preserve it. thanks for the info.

  3. This is awesome-making today. Thank you!

  4. looks interesting!

  5. An excellent recipe, thanks. I have used chicken, kid/lamb and pig livers for this and all work equally well with minor adjustments such as the milk as suggested for the stronger livers. The chicken livers came with hearts which were also good in the finished product.I also added a little chilli oil to the butter topping which gave it a little kick. I froze the spare pates and they were just as good on eating. (Steve)