Homemade Dairy Free Chicken Pate

How do you get a child to up her iron intake?  You can try talking the benefits of eating red meat and green leafy vegetables to a 2 year old, but playing with Peppa Pig and hide and seek can prove a distraction to my lecture.

Having taken my daughter to see her paediatrician recently, I was posed the challenge to get her to eat more iron rich food.  All the common sources were either not on her list of favourite foods or her allergies meant the food was off limits.  Eventually, we got to pate, but the doctor quickly remembered that it contained dairy when bought from the supermarket.

I had made some pate before and remembered the vast quantities of butter that were key to getting the flavour and texture right, but thought that I would try and re-create without the evil butter.

I took inspiration from stories told to me by my grandmother of having to cook during the war when all her usual ingredients were either unavailable or in short supply.  Tales of ‘apricot’ jam made with carrots and almond flavour came to mind and hard, cheap margarine instead of butter.

I struggled to find hard margarine in the supermarket, it was right in the bottom of the cold section looking slightly embarrassed next to healthy, low fat spreads and dairy, spreadable soft butter-like things.  It was surprisingly cheap and behaved for all intents and pruposes exactly like butter in this recipe – I’d use it again!

The finished pate was gorgeously smooth, deliciously savoury and went well with oatcakes or gluten free toast.  Make sure you have extra available as everybody always seems to want a little more to spread…

Serves: makes a small loaf tin half full

Ingredients

250g of duck or chicken livers (frozen are fine)

250g block of hard margarine (don’t even bother if it is soft, spreadable in a plastic tub)

2 shallots, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic (lazy garlic pickled in vinegar works very well)

A few fresh herbs (bay leaves, thyme or sage)

Salt and pepper

Method

1)Drain livers in a sieve above a bowl for 5 minutes to remove excess blood.  Pat livers dry and remove any ‘nasty’ bits with a small sharp knife.

2)Melt around 30g of margarine in a pan on a medium to low heat and soften the shallots in this for around 7 or 8 minutes. Do not let the shallots brown.

3)Add the garlic and cook for a further 3 or 4 minutes.

4) In a small frying pan, add 30g of margarine and get really hot.

5)Add the livers to the pan and fry for around 1 minute each side – the livers should still be just pink in the middle.

6)Melt the remaining margarine in a seperate pan (yes, I know you need 3 pans here…).

7)Add the shallot/garlic/margarine mixture and the livers to a food processor and blitz the mixture fast until it is a puree.

8)With the processor running on a slow to medium speed add the melted margarine in a steady trickle so that it combines with the liver/shallot puree.

9)When the puree looks glossy, stop adding and taste.  Add salt and pepper to get the flavour right.  there should be some melted margarine left – you will need it to add at the end.

10)Line a small loaf tin with cling-film and pour in the pate mixture.  Make sure the mixture is level in the tin.

11)Place your fresh herbs over the top of the pate and pour on a layer of melted margarine over the pate and herbs.

12)Put in the fridge for at least 8 hours.

13) Turn out pate onto a plate, remove film and slice the pate. Serve with warm toast, brioche or crackers and some fresh tomatoes and cucimber for a light lunch or starter.

***quick note – thanks to #3chooks for the feedback, I listened!

Hearty Lamb with Butter Beans & Thyme

Even I can’t continue to kid myself the weather is anything other than cold now in the UK. The arrival of bonfire night (November 5th) calls for plenty of comfort food, the type of thing that sticks to your ribs. Big flavours, slowcooked meat that is soft enough to be cut with a spoon, side dishes like mustard mashed potatoes and braised red cabbage rather than salads are now the order of the day.

This dish just makes me smile thinking about it. The flavours with the lamb all just marry together so well as they get to know each other for a few hours in nice warm oven.

This can be made a good few days in advance and reheated in around 30 minutes in a hot oven. It could even be frozen and warmed up without defrosting.

Serve with mustard mash and a steamed vegetable. Light the fire, draw the curtains and put your feet up…

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

2 neck fillets of lamb or other boneless stewing cut in large pices (3cm chunks)

2 Tbsp oil

25g butter (or dairy free alternative)

1 Tbsp plain flour (or gluten free flour mix)

1 finely diced large shallot

500ml good quality stock

125ml glass of red wine

2 Tbsp redcurrant jelly

4 large sprigs of fresh thyme

1 drained and rinsed can butter beans

Additional wine for deglazing

Method:

1. Preheat oved to around 140C

2. Put oil in pan and fry the lamb in small batches to get a good colour (don’t burn it!) on all sides.

3. Remove the lamb from the pan into a casserole dish.

4. Deglaze the pan with a small amount of wine and pour this into the caserole dish.

5. In a seperate pan, gently fry shallot in butter(or dairy free alternative) until it is transparent (don’t let it go brown!).

6. Add flour and cook stirring all the time for 1 minute.

7. Slowly add the stock in small batches, stirring all the time.

8. Add the wine, jelly and thyme and bring to the boil.

9. Add beans and stok mix to the casserole dish and place into the oven for 2 hours

10. Strain the liquid off into a large pan and bring to a fast boil to reduce the amount of liquid until it becomes thick enough to coat back of a spoon.

11. Taste liquid and season with salt and pepper as required and return meat to the pan.

12. Serve and enjoy on a cold winter’s evening.