200 gmtrimmed chicken livers250 ml (1 cup)milk1 tbspolive oil1½golden shallots, diced½garlic clove, finely chopped2thyme sprigs65 mltawny (see note)60 mlapera (see note)30 mlbrandy200 gmbutter, diced3small eggs6chestnuts1-2 tbsppouring cream (optional), to thinTo serve:micro-cress (optional)Chestnut biscuits125 gmsoftened butter40 gmdemerara sugar3 tspmilk95 gmplain flour 90 gm (1 cup)chestnut flour (see note)½ tspbaking powder
Soak livers in milk in a non-reactive container in the fridge to slightly sweeten the livers (overnight), then drain well.
Preheat oven to 150C. Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat, add shallot, garlic and thyme and cook until tender and translucent (3-4 minutes). Add tawny, apera and brandy, reduce to 100ml (5-6 minutes), then cool to room temperature. Add livers, butter, eggs and 2 tsp salt, season to taste and cook over low heat until livers are medium-rare (30 seconds-1 minute). Transfer to a blender in batches and blend until smooth, then strain through a fine sieve into a 750ml, 16cm-square ceramic dish placed in a roasting pan. Pour enough boiling water into pan to come halfway up dish, cover with baking paper and foil and cook until just set and still a little wobbly in the centre (20-25 minutes). Remove dish from pan and set aside to cool, then refrigerate until set (2-4 hours).
Increase oven to 180C, cut a cross in the end of each chestnut with a sharp knife, roast in a roasting pan until flesh is tender and shells split (10-15 minutes), set aside to cool slightly, then peel while still warm.
For chestnut biscuits, reduce oven to 165C. Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer until pale (2-3 minutes), add milk and 1 tsp sea salt flakes and beat on low speed until incorporated, then sift flours and baking powder over. Finely chop 80gm chestnuts (reserve remainder), add to bowl and fold together (mixture may seem dry at first, but will come together eventually). Pat into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate to rest (30 minutes). Roll out on a lightly floured surface to 4mm thick and cut out rounds with a 5cm-diameter cutter. Transfer to 2 oven trays lined with baking paper, refrigerate until firm (20 minutes), then bake until golden (10-12 minutes). Cool on a wire rack. Chestnut biscuits will keep stored in an airtight container for 2 days.
To serve, scoop liver mixture into a bowl; if pâté is too thick, thin with a little cream. Spoon pâté onto chestnut biscuits, grate fresh chestnut over and scatter with micro-cress.
Note Port-style fortified wine made in Australia is now known as tawny, and Sherry-style fortified wine made in Australia is now known as apera. Chestnut flour is available from select Italian delicatessens including Norton St Grocer.
This recipe is from the June 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.
“This is an impressive autumnal canapé to serve to guests,” says Graham. “Once the time-consuming part of the preparation is over, it takes just a few minutes to put together once your guests have arrived.” You’ll need to begin this recipe a day ahead.