Friends, save your turkey livers! They are a delicious (and free) ingredient for one of the easiest and classiest Thanksgiving appetizers you can make: turkey liver pâté. All you need is 20 minutes, a blender, and a few ingredients from your refrigerator and pantry.
The flavor of the pâté is built by sautéing shallots and the turkey liver in a bit of butter until they are brown, caramelized and savory. In goes a bit of Cognac for a little extra complexity.
After a few minutes, the base of the pâté is ready for a few other rich and savory characters: milk, fish sauce and more butter! The milk and butter help smooth and emulsify the pâté, while the fish sauce adds a deeply salty umami flavor.
The pâté can be prepared and chilled on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. You can pull it out just as your guests arrive, and plate it alongside something crunchy and sharp.
If you can, hold onto a little extra pâté—we’re making a Leftover Turkey Bánh Mì on Friday, and we’re going to need at least a few crackers-worth!
This is a silky, smooth pâté that is delicious with crackers, bread or anything pickled. Chicken livers are a fine substitute if you don’t have a turkey liver on hand.
1 6-oz turkey liver
2 tbsp cold, unsalted butter
1/2 small shallot, finely chopped
2 tbsp Cognac (you can also substitute scotch or brandy)
2 tsp fish sauce
1/4 cup whole milk
salt and pepper, to taste
Cut the turkey liver into 1/2-inch pieces, trimming away any visible membrane or blemishes.
In a medium skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Toss in the shallots and sauté for 3 minutes, or until translucent.
Add the liver pieces to the pan and allow them to sizzle undisturbed for the first 30-60 seconds. Sauté the liver for 4-5 minutes, turning occasionally. You want the pieces to be brown and caramelized on the outside with a rosy (not bloody) center.
Pour the Cognac into the pan and continue to sauté the shallots and liver for another minute or two. Most of the Cognac will have evaporated.
Remove the pan from the heat and allow the liver to cool for 5 minutes.
Scrape the liver, shallots and Cognac into a small blender, and blend them together with the milk and fish sauce. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and blend one more time. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Transfer the pâté to a small ramekin or serving bowl. Bang the ramekin on the counter to help the pâté settle. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours before serving.