Jason Van Leuven’s Grandmother’s Chicken Pâté

10:21 pm on 24 May 2010

I met Jason, an artisan baker and chocolatier, on my recent visit to The Limestone Coast. He prepared a wonderful vineyard lunch at Cape Jaffa Winery and served, among other things this wonderfully smooth paté.

The secret he told me is a stocking. Not a common practice these days but years ago his Oma (grandmother) showed him the trick. Jason recommends, as do I, a brand new stocking for this job.


  • 400 gram chicken livers, cleaned
  • 400 ml full cream milk
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 25 gram butter unsalted
  • 1 large shallot roughly chopped
  • ½ garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 25 ml cognac or brandy
  • 125gm butter unsalted
  • 100gm cream
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste


Marinate the cleaned chicken livers in the milk with the thyme and bay leaf for 6 hrs in the fridge.

Strain the milk off, retaining the thyme and bay leaf and pat the chicken livers dry with paper towel.

Heat a large frying pan with the olive oil, until it is almost smoking. Seal the livers in the hot pan for 30 seconds each side, then spoon out and set them aside.

Quickly add the 25 grams of butter and fry the shallot and garlic until they start to turn clear, return the livers in to the pan, with the thyme and bay leaf, then add the cognac or brandy. The cognac or brandy may flame, so be careful at this stage. Place a lid or a piece of foil on the top of the frying pan and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes.

Remove the bayleaf and thyme stalks and spoon the contents of the frying pan into a blender with the cream, butter, salt and pepper. Blend for 2 minutes on high. Stretch a fine stocking over a bowl and pour the mixture through. Push through with a wooden spoon.(This is an optional step). Pour the paté into a bowl or paté dish and cover the surface well with plastic wrap to prevent discoloration. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 6 hours until firm.

This pate is delicious served with crusty baguettes or rustic sourdough bread, a sprinkling of sea salt or a cornichons.

John Hawkesby’s wine recommendation

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao 2009

Locharburn 2009

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