Of all the courses at my Five-Course Duck Feast, Duck Liver Påté with Fig-Raisin Compote was the most satisfying to make. I felt like a culinary magician transforming just two little duck livers into an exquisite dinner course.
Classically duck liver—or at least foie gras drizzled with an intense sweet sauce—is served with an equally sweet sauterne. Since my påté was cold, a sweet sauce wasn’t possible, so instead I made a fruit compote inspired by the blog Savory and Sweet.
As for the pâté, I followed Pepin’s recipe with two exceptions. For a little sweetness, I added a little diced apple to the sautéing shallot, and to get the liver mixture to purée in the blender, I added just a tablespoon of cream.
This pâté course isn’t a big one, but it rich and so you don’t need much. I opened a bottle of sauterne from my cellar for the practice dinner, and because this sweet wine keeps so well, we simply served the rest of it the night the Five-Course Duck Dinner. It’s good to know that if refrigerated, sauterne keeps for at least a couple of weeks.
Duck Liver Pâté with Fig-Raisin Compote
Serves 8 small portions
The inspiration for the Fig-Raisin Compote came from Savory and Sweet and although I added a little apple and cream to pâté, the base recipe is adapted from Jacque Pepin’s Cooking with Claudine (KQED Books and Tapes 1996). Garnish with celery or parsley leaves, if you like.
1 cup dried figs, chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
Duck fat from 2 ducks (about 3 ounces)
1 large shallot, cut into small dice
1/2 crisp apple, peeled, cored, and cut into small dice (such as Granny Smith)
2 duck livers (about 4 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Cognac or brandy
1 tablespoon heavy cream
24 1/4-inch thick French bread slices
For the compote: Bring figs, raisins, salt, and 1 cup water to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer until reduced to jam consistency, about 10 minutes. Stir in vanilla, vinegar, and honey; cook to blend flavors, about 2 minutes longer. (Can be covered and refrigerated a month or more.)
Cook duck fat in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until most of the fat has rendered and solids have browned. Reduce heat to medium, add shallots and apples; sauté until softened, a couple of minutes. Add livers, thyme and garlic; continue to cook garlic is fragrant and liver has lost its raw color, a couple of minutes longer. Season the mixture lightly with salt and pepper, and then transfer to a blender. Add Cognac; process, adding the tablespoon of cream. Continue to process, adding a little more cream if necessary to puree. Transfer mixture to a small plastic wrap-lined soufflé or custard cup. Refrigerate until ready to use (Can be covered and refrigerated up to 5 days or sealed with 1/2-inch duck fat and refrigerated for a couple of months)
When ready to serve, adjust oven rack to middle potion and heat oven to 450 degrees. Place bread on a wire rack and place in oven. Toast until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Cut pate into wedges and serve on a small plate with a spoonful of compote and toasts