Chicken liver parfait

Chicken liver parfait

Have You Eaten
Billy Law

I hated chicken liver with a passion when I was growing up — and mum loved to cook it for us! The smell that lingered in the kitchen was enough to put me off, not to mention the overcooked metallic aftertaste. My palate has changed a lot over the years, and since discovering the magical combo of chicken liver with cream, herbs, spices and butter — lots of butter! — I am now a converted man.


Quantity Ingredient
500g chicken livers
500ml full-cream milk
3 sprigs thyme
1 fresh bay leaf
200g unsalted butter, plus 40 g extra for cooking
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 french shallot, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
25ml whiskey, plus 1 tablespoon extra
100ml thickened cream
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf of brioche or sourdough baguette, thickly sliced
cranberry jam


  1. Clean the chicken livers, trim off any sinews and cut into even pieces. Put the cleaned livers in a bowl with the milk, thyme and bay leaf, then place in the refrigerator to soak overnight, or for at least 6 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, to clarify the butter, melt the butter gently in a saucepan over low–medium heat. The butter will separate into three layers: the impurities on top, clarified butter in the middle and milky solids at the bottom. Be careful that you don’t overheat the butter or it will start bubbling and become cloudy. Skim off the impurities, then gently pour the clarified butter into a jug and set aside to cool. Discard the milky solids.
  3. Strain the milk off the livers, but keep the thyme and bay leaf. Pat everything dry with paper towel.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan until the oil starts smoking. Working in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan, add the livers to the pan and seal for 30 seconds on each side. Remove and set aside. The livers should be firm but still pinkish inside.
  5. Using the same pan, melt the extra butter, then add the shallot and garlic and sauté for 1 minute until soft and translucent. Return the livers to the pan with the thyme and bay leaf and stir to mix well.
  6. Pour the whiskey into the pan, then carefully flambé the whiskey to burn off the alcohol. Tip everything except the clarified butter and cream into a food processor and let cool for a few minutes.
  7. Process the cooked liver mixture until smooth. While the motor is still running, slowly pour in 150 ml of the clarified butter in a steady stream, then do the same with the cream. Blend for a further 2 minutes on high until it forms a smooth purée.
  8. Push the purée through a fine sieve twice for a smooth consistency. Add the remaining tablespoon of whiskey to the parfait, season with the salt and pepper and mix well. Pour into ramekins and gently tap them on the kitchen bench to level the surface. Pour the remaining clarified butter over the top to a depth of 3 mm, to make sure the parfait is completely sealed. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to set overnight. For best results, leave the parfait in the refrigerator for 5 days or so, to allow the flavours to develop.
  9. Serve the parfait with thick slices of brioche lightly toasted on a chargrill pan, with the cranberry jam.
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