Spiced Chicken, Bacon and Chutney Paté

I love a good paté. From the small glass jars of chicken or beef paste available in every supermarket to the first course servings of velvety parfait in restaurants. Seeing as I love it so, I was pondering why I'd never made it. A Sainsbury substitution fixed that.

Suddenly I had 400g of chicken livers to deal with, not the 800g of lamb liver I'd ordered. I like chicken livers, especially Portuguese style stuffed into a soft roll, but Husband is not a fan of the texture, so I needed to find something else to do with them. Paté happened.
I found a reliable recipe online and then played with it. I didn't want super smooth, and I didn't want it to have purely livers in it either. I found smoked bacon in the fridge, and some dark and spicy green tomato and bramley apple chutney I'd made when we had a freezer clear out. Something about the buttery onion/bay smell made me want to add allspice, so that went in too.

Cooking commenced.

125g butter (and a bit extra to coat the top if desired)
1 large onion (white), chopped
6 slices of smoked streaky bacon, chopped
2 bay leaves
4 allspice berries, crushed to a fine powder
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1 – 2 cloves garlic, crushed
400g free-range chicken livers
2 bay leaves
20ml apricot brandy
4 heaped dessertspoons of apple chutney (any dark fruity chutney will work)

Melt the butter in a large pan, and add the bay leaves and the onions. Cook them on a medium heat, and then after 5 minutes add in the bacon. Cook that mix until the bacon is properly opaque, then mix in the garlic, smoked paprika and the allspice and let that all cook gently together until the garlic and onions are soft.

Add your chicken livers, turn the heat up briefly to get a good sear on the livers, then add in the brandy and simmer til the livers are almost cooked through.

If there's excess liquid, don't panic.  Drain that off and set aside for later.

Pop the liver/onion mixture into a food processor, add in the chutney, and pulse. Of course you can make this as smooth as you want, but I wanted it slightly chunky.

If there's juices left, pop them back in the pan, and reduce furiously until syrupy and thickened then add them to the food processor mixture too.

Now taste it. Add in salt if you want it (personally I think livers need a decent amount of it), black pepper, more allspice if you want. You could even add in finely diced apples at this point. Give it another couple of pulses.

When it's at the texture you want, decant into jars or bowls.
Melt around 2 ounces of butter to pour onto the tops of the paté so that it's sealed in. I added a bay leaf to the top because I could.

Pop in the fridge so the butter can set hard, then serve with toast or crackers, whatever you want!


Meat Free Moshari Kokkinisto / Pastitsada

I'd made something called Moshari Kokkinisto - reddened beef - with the remains of the seitan left over from the doner experiment. I had a pretty large chunk of it left so I twisted it, pulled it and broke it into pieces. It takes some doing, as it's pretty elastic! Bear in mind that these will swell, soften and expand once you get them into the sauce so don't worry if you think you might have made them too small. Then off to the big casserole dish we went.

Extra virgin olive oil - a good 5 tbs
1 tsp cinnamon
1 quantity of seitan 'doner meat' (see previous blog post)

Gently fry the seitan pieces in the oil, and sprinkle in the cinnamon. Do this on a low heat, you want them to take on the cinnamon flavour, not crisp them up.

Cook for about 5 minutes, then set them and the oil aside

Once more to the pot!

Extra virgin olive oil - a good 5 tbs at least DO NOT SKIMP it's part of the richness and there's no meat fat
1 large onion, red or white, up to you
3 fat cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 small cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp cumin
2 whole cloves OR 1/4 tsp ground clove
1 tsp. cayenne pepper if you want
1/8 fresh nutmeg, grated
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1-1/2 cups red wine
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tin water
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt

Slice the onion into rough half rings, and pop it into the pan on a high heat initially, while you get the onion coated in oil, then add the garlic and turn the heat down to low.
Sweat the onions and garlic until they are translucent, anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes, depending on the onion.
Add in the cinnamon, cumin, clove, cayenne, nutmeg, red wine vinegar, wine, tomatoes, water, sugar and tomato puree.
Pop in the seitan, mix everything together really well, then cover and let it simmer for a good hour. You want all those flavours to mingle, and get right into the seitan.
For the next hour, pop it in the oven on around 150C and let it bake for 30 minutes, then take the lid off for 15 minutes, to make the sauce more rich.

It should end up looking like this:

I admit, I ate a fair amount of that straight up, just as it was. It's very filling, and you honestly don't need much!

The next night, I decided pasta was going to happen. Inspired by a dish called pastitsada from Corfu - essentially spiced chicken and pasta - I added some more extra virgin olive oil to the pot, snipped the seitan into much smaller pieces with scissors to make it easier to eat, added in another spoon of tomato paste and another 1/2 cup of wine, then let it simmer for another 30 minutes.

I then boiled some bucatini - or what ever pasta you like - until it still had a bit of bite, then transferred the pasta into the casserole dish using tongs. Any pasta water that gets in? Don't worry, the starch will thicken the sauce a bit.

Let the pasta cook in the sauce, soaking it all up.

Serve in fairly small portions as it's pretty much carbs + carbs, and eat topped with your cheese of choice.

I'd made a version of vegan parmesan* to try, and it worked very well with the rich sauce.

3/4 cup roasted hazelnuts
4 tbs nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic salt
Pulse in a food processor until you've got fine crumbs. You have to pulse as other wise the nuts warm, and the oils turn the lot into nut paste. Very tasty paste though!

*It's not parmesan, we all know that, but it is really tasty with this dish.


Hail Seitan, Destroyer of, er, bread.

I admit, I am late to this homemade seitan thing because a) I'm not a vegetarian and b) lots of restaurants out there have been doing it better, for longer but as my tooth works are ongoing, I needed a protein with no surprises.

I'm not a fan of doner meat, not because of the ears/noses/toes nonsense, but because on occasion there's a wee bone chip and OW MY TOOTH, but I do like the flavours, so I thought I'd put those into a setain dough and see how it turned out.

Rather well, it seems! I admit, a stand mixer with a dough hook is an amazing aid to making this stuff, as the more you knead it, the more texture it has, so if you make it by hand, then beat seven shades of wotsit out of it.

1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup chickpea flour
2 tbs nutritional yeast (Holland and Barrett sell it)
1 tsp salt

The seasonings
2 generous tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried mint
1 tsp baharat
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder

The liquid
1 cup boiling water
2 tbs Marmite dissolved in said water
1 tsp smoked salt* or smoked paprika stirred in to the water
1 tbs maple syrup

The other liquid
1 large pan full of simmering water

Put the dry ingredients and spices into the stand mixer. Twirl it around a bit, mixing it all up. I know it sounds like a lot of salt in here, but the dough needs it.

Slowly add the stock while the machine is going ON LOW and it will come together.

Up the speed a little and let it go for about 5 minutes or so.

When it starts to gather around the dough hook, turn it down to low and run it for another few minutes to give the gluten an extra stretching.

Grab your lump of dough, and manhandle it into a vague sausage, twisting it a bit like a rope.

Wrap tightly in foil, like a fat silver Christmas cracker, and lower gently into the simmering water.

Leave it to simmer, covered, for an hour then take it out and let it cool enough to handle.

Slice it thinly, and quickly warm it in a pan with a decent amount of olive oil to get that juiciness into it. If the heat is too high, the thinner slices will crisp up, but hey, if you want crispy, go for it!

Stuff it into a warm pitta bread with tahini, salad, whatever you like. I did tahini, chili jam and fresh lemon juice with some sliced white, as that was all I had, and that was gorgeous.

*This is the smoked salt I used. It is strong, very woodsy, but gives a proper punch of umami when dissolved in the stock. Brilliant company, too, by the way.