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A Chicken Liver Pâté (aka chopped liver recipe) passed down through generations.  Delicious!

A Chicken Liver Pâté (aka Chopped Liver recipe) passed down through generations. Delicious!

This is Jack and I am sharing the story behind today’s recipe for Chicken Liver Pâté. (I am also sharing this recipe today at the request of several friends who devoured this pâté at a recent holiday party we just hosted!)

A number of years back, I was good friends with a wonderful Jewish couple who welcomed me into their home on more than one occasion like I was part of their family. And it was at their house – during a very special family celebration – where I first ate this amazing Chicken Liver Pâté. My friends simply called this dish “chopped liver” – not the fancier name of pâté that we gave this recipe.

At the party, their grandmother (aka Bubbe) was nice enough to share the secret to her fantastic recipe – and the secret to creamy, flavorful Chicken Liver Pâté is to add cognac and ‘schmaltz’ along with all of the other ingredients!

A Chicken Liver Pâté (aka Chopped Liver recipe) passed down through generations. Delicious!

At that time, I had no idea what schmaltz was – but afterwards learned that it is simply chicken fat. So – from that day forward – whenever I cook chicken for soup – I often skim off the fat from the top of the soup and save it. I freeze the schmaltz in small zipper seal bags, then I pull it out of the freezer as needed whenever we make Chicken Liver Pâté.

Some families serve Chicken Liver Pâté with chopped hard boiled eggs and something called ‘gribenes’ which are cracklings collected while making the schmaltz. The family who originally shared this recipe did not – so I prepared the dish the way I was shown.  (We show it above served with some gherkin cornichon pickles which are totally optional.)

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Chicken Liver Pâté

  • Prep Time: 2 hours 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hours 35 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups


  • 1 20-ounce container fresh chicken livers (found in 20 ounce tubs in most supermarkets)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ stick butter
  • ¾ cup finely minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme chopped
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • Few grinds black pepper
  • ½ cup cognac
  • 4 tablespoons chicken fat (schmaltz)
  • 34 tablespoons heavy cream


  1. Trim all fat and connecting tissue from chicken livers. Place cleaned livers in a small bowl and cover with the milk. Place in the refrigerator for two hours.
  2. Place soaked livers in a strainer and strain and discard liquid.
  3. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt butter and add shallots, thyme, salt and pepper. Sauté until shallots are tender, about 4-5 minutes and do not brown.
  4. Turn burner to medium high to high heat and add livers and cognac. Cook for about five minutes until cooked but still slightly pink inside. Since the livers I used were different sizes, I pulled the smaller ones out after about four minutes and let the bigger ones continue to cook so that none of the livers overcooked. This is important to not overcook them as they will get tough and rubbery. But it is equally as important to cook them over a somewhat high heat so that they brown. At the end of the five minutes, any liquid should have evaporated. If not, remove cooked livers and cook liquid a minute or so longer to evaporate. Set the pan and cooked liver aside to cool slightly.
  5. Once cool enough to handle, place the cooked livers and the contents of the pan into a blender. Add all of the chicken fat and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream and puree until fine. Use the last tablespoon of cream if necessary to yield a creamy texture. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
  6. Pour into a serving container, cover tightly with plastic wrap so that the wrap touches the top of the pate tight. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  7. Serve with crackers (we found rice crackers to be the best) and cornichons which are tart little mini pickles and often served with pâté.
  8. Keeps well up to five days refrigerated but over time the pâté will begin to turn grey where it has been exposed to air. This change in color does not alter the taste at all.

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A Chicken Liver Pâté (aka Chopped Liver recipe) passed down through generations. Delicious!

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  • Susan wrote:

    Hi Jack-I was wondering what the purpose is of soaking the chicken livers in milk. I never heard of it so I was just wondering. This recipe sounds delicious. I will be trying it soon! Thank you!

    • Jack wrote:

      Two reasons Susan. They make them silky and soft but most importantly, the milk helps remove impurities and animal body fluids.

  • deb rome wrote:

    i find it hard to believe that the Jewish bubbe made this recioe with milk, cream and butter. Even if Jewish family is not orthodox, cooking and/or eating meat with dairy is almost never done.

    • Jack wrote:

      From what I know of the culture, I agree. However I was introduced to this family when I was 22 and at that point, didn’t understand the restrictions, so I copied the recipe without question. One of the first things they mentioned to me was that they were not strict about their religion or culture. Again at 22, I just didn’t know any better. No disrespect to you or your religion.

  • Jay trenchard wrote:

    Can the pate be frozen?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Jay – Yes, you can freeze it

  • Angela wrote:

    This is not kosher with the milk, cream and butter? Can’t imagine a Jewish family would use these ingredients. Were you given this exact recipe or were you told the secret ingredient of cognac only? I ask as I’m searching recipes like I always do to create my own version. I usually wait to come to NYC to buy it because no one in a 50 mile radius sells it by me.

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Angela – You are correct in noting that this recipe is not kosher – we (and the Jewish family that gave the recipe to my husband Jack) never claimed that it was. Good luck in your recipe search!

  • Gwen wrote:


    Do you have to use Kognac in this recipe? Does the alcohol cook off?


    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Gwen – The cognac adds a very distinct flavor to the finished pate – you can leave it out if you’d prefer but it won’t taste quite the same. Yes – the alcohol will cook off. Hope that helps!

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