Boxing Day Pate {chicken liver pate}

I’ve celebrated boxing day a few times. In my first experience of “celebrating”, while living in the UK, I found myself going from store to store in my village; finding locked door and closed signs. Even with mail delivery two times a day, I didn’t get the memo that commerce ends when Christmas celebrations begin.

Boxing day is a lovely tradition and much more meaningful than half-off sales and crowded malls.

This simple pate rounds out a simple buffet. Or if you fancy yourself a bit more posh, a nice glass of champs, a cool jar of caviar, and this on a silver tray would have the Queen bowing to you.

Chicken Liver Pate

1/4 cup shallots–finely diced
1/2 cup salt pork –diced
2 large garlic cloves–smashed but kept whole
2 Tbs olive oil
1 lb chicken livers–well trimmed
1 cup chicken broth
leaves from 1 sprig thyme
pinch black pepper
1 stick butter
3 generous tablespoons cognac

In a saute pan with non-sloping sides, heat the olive oil and toss in the garlic, the shallots and the salt pork. Cook on low until the shallots begin to soften. Wash and dry the livers. Toss them into the shallots and oil and let brown, but don’t cook all the way through. This will only take a few minutes. Toss in the thyme and black pepper, then pour in the chicken broth. Cover the pan and let cook until the liver is cooked through and everything else is softened. Remove from heat and immediately tip everything into a food processor. Add the butter in chunks and process until you have a nice thick paste. Pour through a fine sieve into a clean bowl. Stir in the cognac and then pour into ramekins or gifting jars. For a nice presentation, you can top with clarified butter and a fresh sprig of thyme.

Bean and Barley Chili

I enjoy soups and stews year ’round, but this pleasantly cool weather makes me want to hunker down with a stick to your ribs kinda meal. But, stick to your ribs sometimes also means, stick to your thighs {if you smell what i’m cooking}.  This recipe is vegetarian, and very low in fat.  I might be so bold as to say, Guilt Free.  It uses dried beans, so it will cost you a bit of time in the soaking, but is well worth it.

I make a huge pot and freeze the leftovers; mainly because Mike is a meat eater.  Say vegetarian chili to him, and all he hears is “I didn’t make dinner tonight.”

Bean and Pearl Barley Chili

1 bag 15 bean soup mix–beans only * save the flavor packet for something else
water for soaking beans
1 onion– diced
2 celery ribs–diced
2 carrots–diced
1 pasilla chile–diced
1 cup mushrooms–diced
1/4 cup chili spice mix
1/4 tsp cayenne
4 Tbs tomato paste
1 cup pearl barley –uncooked
6 cups liquid * I use 4 cups vegetable broth ad 2 cups beer
1 generous Tablespoon grated bittersweet chocolate
salt and pepper to taste

Soak the bean in water overnight or use whatever method you are most comfortable with for softening dried beans.  Drain.  In a heavy stock pot, cook onions, celery carrots, pasilla, and mushrooms in a bit of olive oil, until they soften and just begin to brown.  Toss in chili spice and cayenne and give it a turn or two to coat everything.  Add the pearl barley and stir to coat.  Stir in the tomato paste, liquid, and chocolate, then toss in the beans and cook until they and the barley are tender.  It should take about an hour over medium heat.  Do not let boil, just simmer.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve with all your favorite chili fixins.