Most chefs will tell you how strong a role nostalgia can play when it comes to our everyday experiences with food. Most will say their first food memories equate to something along the lines of “shucking peas at my grandmother’s feet” or “Sunday gravy with the entire family.” Mine was something a touch less fortunate.
Standing in line at the church up the street from my apartment with my mother, waiting for the soup kitchen to open, is one of my first and most clear memories. Making do with a little, and stretching it to enough, had become a recurring theme for us.
It was even more evident when we would walk up to the Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken on the corner and grab a tub of almost forgotten and discarded chicken livers from the bottom shelf. My mother would take them, then pour a liberal amount of seasoning salt on them, bread lightly and fry. My mother was probably ecstatic that I loved them, not only because of my enjoyment, but because a dollar was stretched into a meal through a little care and skill.
Lifting meager ingredients up, with a little thought and attention, has been the backbone of my professional career. The chicken-liver pâté we make at Station is evidence that with skill and drive we can turn the most humble thing into the most fantastic. It’s a lesson I was fortunate to learn at a young age.
- 1 pound chicken livers, rinsed well and dried
- 1 pound butter, small dice
- 50 grams Spanish onion, small dice
- 2 grams pink salt
- 3 grams kosher salt
- 125 grams heavy cream
In a lightly oiled pan, sweat the onions until translucent. Add cream, butter and salts. Allow butter to melt, but do not allow it to boil. In small batches in a blender, blend warm cream mixture and raw livers. Pass through a fine mesh strainer into an ovenproof baking dish. Bake in a water bath at 350 degrees, checking every 20 minutes until center is set and no longer jiggles. Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.