More Mince Pies and Fruity Christmas Duck Paté

My oh my, what a busy day today has been already!  And it’s not even 3.30 yet.  I’ve been cleaning the house, put on and hung 3 loads of laundry, changed the bed, sat myself down for an exam-conditions practice paper (I have another exam on Friday) and of course, lots of cooking too.  I’m so pleased I made my pastry for the mince pies yesterday – it made my life significantly simpler this morning, and it’s so much easier to roll when chilled!  Smaller cases this time, as the last batch used up my mincemeat far too quickly!  I’ve also taken a leaf out of my mummy’s book, and frozen the rest of my pastry not in a ball, but ready-rolled and cut out, sandwiched between sheets of greaseproof paper.  It took longer this morning, but if it gets to a point where I don’t have the time to make pastry, I daresay I won’t have the time to roll and cut it (and more importantly deal with the inevitably huge clean-up operation afterwards).  This way, the little pastry discs and stars come out of the ice drawer in the freezer, straight into the tin to be filled and baked.  No mess.  Excellent!  I also had some marzipan leftover from yesterday’s cake decorating escapades, so put a little star of thinly rolled marzipan underneath the pastry lid of some of them.  Yum!  As before, the port and cranberry mincemeat recipe is here.

I made unsweetened shortcrust pastry and this batch is bloody excellent! 1lb plain flour, 4oz unsalted butter, 4oz rendered animal fat which has made a whopping 52 mince pie cases. It's really flaky - much better than the stuff before!

And the long-awaited duck liver paté has finally made its appearance.  I’m a bit annoyed, as I think I may have overcooked the liver, but I spread a bit on a cream cracker whilst decanting it and it tasted OK.  Still got some more liver in the freezer anyway, so I’ll give it another go at some point.  The photo’s not very exciting I’m afraid.  Perhaps I’ll remember to take a pic of some sliced onto a piece of toast or something.

Fruity Christmas Paté

I’ve made this very successfully before with chicken livers, but the duck has an added richness which works beautifully with the other flavours.  I’ve not given quantities, as I have no idea how much I used of each thing, but perhaps if you compare this one with a conventional paté recipe you can get a good idea.

A handful of dried cranberries, soaked overnight in the zest and juice of an orange and some ruby port
Duck liver (I also had some other meat in with mine, having portioned the duck myself)
Onion, finely diced
Garlic cloves, finely minced
Butter
Salt and Pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg

  1. Heat some olive oil and butter in a pan, and cook the onion and garlic very gently.
  2. Clean the liver, removing any tubes and jumpy bits.  Cook the liver on a low heat with the onion.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat, and add some of the orange/port liquor from the cranberries.  Blend this in a food processor or with a hand blender, adding more port and melted butter to reach the desired consistency.
  4. Stir in some cranberries.  Don’t add too many, or the paté will taste very sweet.  Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste (you may need quite a lot, to counteract the aforementioned sweetness of the cranberries.
  5. Press the paté into ramekins, or any other receptacle you wish to keep it in.  My mixture made 3 ramekins.
  6. Gently melt some butter, and pour over the paté to coat it.  Refrigerate until needed.  The butter will help to prevent the paté from going off – it should keep for around a week or so.  Serve with bread, toast or crackers.  You don’t have to eat the butter coating, but it obviously won’t do you any harm if you do – it’s only the same as buttering your toast beforehand.

Great as a starter or simple lunch, chicken or duck liver paté is ridiculously easy to make, but people are often really impressed by the effort. You can decorate the tops of the ramekins with orange peel or bay leaves if you like. I put a bay leaf in one, but it sank😦

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