French Fridays with Dorie: Chicken liver gâteaux with pickled onions

I know a lot of the Doristas approached this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe with much trepidation. Chicken liver “gâteaux” with pickled onions ( p 190) – ew – that’s liver, right?

Well I was actually ok with this one.  If you are a long-time blog reader you might remember that Neil and I spent 2011 working our way though Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie with the Charcutepalooza folks. And oh, there was liver. Twice.

To be honest, liver is not my favourite thing to prepare (it’s kinda squidgey) but I do like a little pâté once in a while.  This one of Dorie’s is more like a mousse than a pâté and it lovely and light, making it seem less rich that it is. Cos, you know, it’s got eggs, milk, cream, some herbs and Cognac in it. Oh, and liver. And basically you just whiz all that up in a food processor and pour the liquid into ramekins and bake it until it’s set on the top.

They look so innocent, like little cakes, no?

Until you look at the glass ramekins from the side. They’re kinda pink…

To serve alongside, Dorie recommends quick pickled onions. These were also super fast to make.

Neither Neil not I were fans of these. When one is eating pâté, I am of the opinion that one needs cornichons. So these onions were just, ok, you know?

But the pâté?  Well, I’ll admit I had only a tiny taste of this (coming off stomach flu, I didn’t think the wisest choice for a first meal was rich liver) but I really liked it. It’s the kind of pâté I would seek out because it’s light. And so tasty.

Two of our neighbours scored a ramekin each as I was wandering around taking photos outside.  One ramekin came back with an invite to a risotto dinner and the other one came back filled with chocolate. I think know they liked it!

As for Mr Neil? Well this plate is right up his alley (well maybe minus the onions and adding in some cornichons) and I know he enjoyed this both nights I served it for dinner to him.  Would I make this again? Absolutely. I’d serve it to guests too because it’s one of those dishes that people will be like “Wow – you made this yourself?” and they never have to know how easy it is.

Oh, and to the person who commented that my pâté looked like Fancy Feast on Instagram, sure, you’re entitled to think that but I’ll have you know that the Fancy Feast eater in this house, Cleo, had no interest in this and, in fact, turned her large Burmese nose up at this. Clearly nothing like Fancy Feast.

French Fridays with Dorie participants do not publish the recipes on our blogs (this week, though you can find the recipe here) rather, we prefer if you purchase Around My French Table for yourselves (trust me, you definitely want this book!) which you can do here on Amazon or Amazon Canada. Or for free worldwide shipping, buy from The Book Depository. Go on, treat yourself then join us here!


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43 thoughts on “French Fridays with Dorie: Chicken liver gâteaux with pickled onions”

  1. I have to say, this was offal. Which of course means – fantastic.

    I had to chuckle at Mardi’s “it’s kinda squidgey” – possibly the understatement of the day.

    I’ve always been a fan of liver, and of pate in general, so may not have been the most critical judge. But this was very fine indeed.

    The onions were good for what they were – just not my ideal match. Also, as I was pairing a wine, the strong pickled onions didn’t go to well with that – nor the three cheeses that were on the other edge of the board. 🙂

    As for the wine, I chose a bottle of Origine, a slightly new-world style Pinot Noir from the Southwest of France. (We’re visting the winery in August.) Matched wonderfully.

  2. Oh my. Lovely pictures 🙂

    This was an adventure, for sure. I grew up on chicken and beef livers and just never acquired the taste. I don’t mind some pates, but there was something about this that just didn’t work for me. (I had five and 2/3 ramekins left over… So sad). I am stuffing a batch of sausage this weekend (yes, with natural casings), so hopefully that helps me get some of my “street cred” back…

    The onions were a winner for me.

  3. Your Fancy Feast comments have made me laugh every time! You are so brave to make this when you’ve been sick. I’m 100% healthy and I only considered it briefly before deciding I couldn’t do it. But if anyone can make little liver cakes look appealing, it’s you Mardi. Beautiful styling as usual!

  4. It’s nice to know that you and yours appreciated the pate if not the pickled onions. I know in my house, husband did not appear enthusiastic so not sure if I will be making this one. If I do, I will follow your suggestion for cornichons, I think it sounds more appetizing, too.

  5. I’m so glad that you’re ramekins were so greatly enjoyed by all! I was chicken and didn’t make this. I love the pic of the onions in the jar. They look great against the grainy wood.

  6. I love your first picture of the chicken liver gateaux! I am not a liver lover 🙁 So I didn’t make it, but I did get to meet Dorie’s son at Beurre & Sel last weekend! I’ll take a cookie over liver every time!

  7. I like pates and such, so I think I might have liked this one, but, like you, we have had some stomach illness in the house this week. Your gateaux looks wonderful.

  8. Very nicely done, Mardi! This was my first time working with liver, and I have to say, I was a little nervous! But it definitely won me over. It may not be the prettiest dish, but it certainly is tasty!

  9. I looked at some of your Michel Ruhle posts and was so impressed – especially with the sausages, which I have always wanted to make. Glad you liked this – and great idea to give some as gifts.

  10. My mother cooked liver on a regular basis and I actually don’t mind it, the heat here in Sydney threw me off cooking or eating this at the moment. I think it looks great though!

  11. I had trepidation big time and tried to get all the ingredients in and out of the Cuisinart without focusing on what was really in there. My son commented it was like liver pudding. A compliment I believe. I also much preferred the view from above – nice and crusty and dark- before flipping it over (yikes). But it was an adventure and I am so glad I tried it. Also my guys loved it but the cat and two dogs were lunatics…move quickly to get it all done and put away before they moved in !

  12. You’ll have to make this again when your stomach is settled down. I loved the texture from the custard. While I think I liked the onions more than you did, I also took your advice and also garnished with some cornichons. Perfect! Thanks for the tip.

  13. Gorgeous photos – that Instagram comment was so unfair.

    I enjoyed the onions with this, but cornichons are never misplaced when there is pâté to be had.

  14. I also would serve this to guests for a dinner party. I think of it as a la-de-dah salad course. I do think that the ramekin size is a bit large for one serving. As you said, it’s very rich. The best comment for this week’s FFWD recipe choice is Neil’s, “I have to say, this was offal.” LOL I salute you for cooking through Michael’s charcuterie book. That was before I began reading your Blog. Very impressive. Like you, I enjoyed it but it has to be eaten on a healthy stomach! Although I liked the pickled onions, I pulled out my jar of cornichons. Ahhhh

  15. I’m so glad that you and others enjoyed this one. It certainly looked and smelled good. I think I would have preferred the cornichons over the onions as well. Nicely done!

  16. Your pate looks great. Interesting that it developed a bit of crust on the bottom (top). I love the white terrines! What a great way to make them!

  17. Well yours looks great either way! I really wanted to buck up and cook through Charcuterie but I just couldn’t and I’m just not ready for it yet, so kudos to you! 🙂


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