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Baker’s Foie


Source: Tartine Bread


For the paté:

  • 6 chicken livers (or duck livers)
  • olive oil
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup cognac
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

For the cognac butter:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon cognac
  • pinch of kosher salt


  1. Rinse the chicken livers in cold water and remove any visible fat or connective tissue. Heat a heavy skillet over high heat and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil begins to smoke, carefully add the livers and sear for about 30 seconds. Quickly turn the livers over, add the shallots, and sear for another 30 seconds. Add the thyme and cook for a few seconds until it is aromatic.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and pour off the excess oil and fat. While the pan is still hot, add 2 tablespoons of the butter and ¼ cup of the cognac, and deglaze the pan, stirring to loosen any brown bits sticking to the bottom. (Note: I would make sure most of the cognac reduces off — you don’t want excess liquid when you are ready to purée, and you add more cognac in the next step anyway. So, if necessary, place the pan over low heat briefly to let the cognac cook off.) Transfer the contents to a food processor and let cool for 8 to 10 minutes. (Note: I would cool this for at least 30 minutes. Robertson notes that the trick to this pâté is to really make sure the butter is at room temperature and the livers have cooled before you blend the two.)
  3. Once the livers have cooled, add the remaining 4 tablespoons butter to the food processor and process to a thick purée. Add the salt and the remaining 1/4 cup cognac — add this a little at a time as you might not need all of it — and process again. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Pour the liver purée into ramekins or a suitably sized loaf or pâté pan.
  4. To make the cognac butter, place the butter in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cognac until it is hot to the touch. Add it to the butter along with the salt. Stir the butter until it has a liquid consistency and then pour it evenly over the pâté. (Note: This is just a wee bit tricky. If the cognac isn’t hot enough and if the butter isn’t really at room temperature, it’s hard to incorporate the two.) Cover and refrigerate until the cognac butter has set. Serve cool or at room temperature with toast.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes