Elaine’s Chicken Liver Pate by Tom Lawrence

Elaine Lawrence is a professionally trained cook who, prior to a crippling illness, owned a premier catering service in Jackson, Mississippi. During a week-long class in Chicago led by Jacques Pepin, she learned to make the best chicken liver pate I have ever tasted. When she added this wonderful hors d’ oeuvre to her basic catering menu, it became the most popular and requested of her many delicious offerings.

IMAG0306During the preparation of this delicacy, I was allowed to clean up the Cuisinart, a task to which I always looked forward.  The pate became a family holiday tradition, and my brother Steve loved it so much that Elaine would make him his own portion to take home.

I recently found Jacques Pepin’s original recipe, and have made several test batches. I added a touch or two of my own, and the result is very close to Elaine’s version.  Here is the recipe.

Elaine Lawrence’s Chicken Liver Pate.


1/2 pound of chicken livers*

1/2 medium onion

1 garlic clove

1 bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves

Kosher salt

1/2 cup of water

1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temp.

2 tablespoons of cognac or brandy

Freshly ground black pepper

2 packets of Goya Salad and Vegetable seasoning

Toast points

  1. Carefully remove the membrane and closely trim the chicken livers
  2. Thinly slice the onion
  3. Peel and smash the garlic
  4. In a medium saucepan combine the livers, onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme and ½ teaspoon of kosher salt. Add the water and one packet of the Goya seasoning. Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the livers are barely pink inside; about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  1. Discard the bay leaf. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the livers, onions and garlic to a food processor, and process until coarsely pureed. With the machine on, add the butter, two Tbs. at a time, until fully incorporated. Add the other packet of Goya seasoning and the cognac. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and process until completely smooth. Scrape the pate into two or three ramekins and press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the pate to seal. Refrigerate until firm and serve chilled with toast points.

*If you have the option, choose the paler of the chicken livers they tend to make a mellower and richer pate than the deep red livers.

About the author

Tom is our resident historian and writer of fiction. He is also the boss. So really, he can do whatever he wants, as long as Mary doesn't mind.