Mid-week the weather deteriorated and emails started flying…were we going as Vikings or French nobles? French nobles or savages? Ah!
Last year, the Expeditioneers did this trip on our bikes, but I still managed to pack along some homemade paté. Like pound cake, it’s not so tough to make being basically one part chicken liver, one part butter, one part cream…it’s sealed with crushed almonds and more butter. In a moment of true serendipity, we used this butter with the bits of embedded almonds and paté to pan fry some halibut. Ooo la la, a classic was born! Halibut au Whidbey!
This year, I had two crates of food go up with us. Not only did I pack some paté, but some pickled cherries and dills I canned last summer, great Dijon, a sorrel pie, along with a couple bottles wine. Traveling as French Nobles is certainly something I am pretty good at.
I don’t normally post up recipes on my blog, but with Halibut season just getting underway, I think this is one worth having.
Halibut au Whidbey: Pan-fried Halibut in Paté Butter
1. Make some decent paté
Adapted from the book American Charcuterie by Victoria Wise
3 tablespoons butter
1 pound chicken livers
1/2 teaspoon chopped sage leaves
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 cup brandy (all the better if it’s from last season’s homemade brandied cherries, peaches or plums)
3 tablespoons butter
one small onion, roughly chopped
one small apple, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1/4 pound butter at room temperature
5 tablespoons heavy cream
1 ounce chopped blanched almonds
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons clarified butter
In a sauté pan, melt 3 tablespoons butter until foaming, then add the livers, sage and white pepper. Cook 10 to 12 minutes until livers are firm but still pink in centers. (Be careful not to overcook!) Raise heat, add brandy, and ignite with a match. Shake pan vigorously for a minute until alcohol burns off and flame dies. Remove livers to a large bowl where juices can collect.
In the same pan, melt three more tablespoons butter and add onion, apple, and thyme. Cook over medium low heat 20 to 25 minutes until apple and onion are cooked through. Remove to bowl with livers. Allow to cool to room temperature.
To make the paté, use a food processor to purée livers, apple, and onion until quite smooth, along with any collected juices, water, and cream.
Next, work on the topping. Chop almonds (this is important, they must be chopped medium fine… you want to know you’re eating nuts and it’s important they aren’t too large or slivered for cooking). Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a sauté pan and add nuts, and stir cook constantly over medium heat until browned but not burned. Remove to paper towel in and set aside.
To finish, pack moose and into several half-pint glass jars leaving an inch at the top. Pressed down tight and smooth out as you go. Spread toasted nuts over top and pour clarified butter over all. Cover with plastic wrap after fat is set. Refrigerate at least three hours, but preferably overnight. This will keep refrigerated up to 10 days sealed under butter.
2. Fry up some halibut
1/2 pound firm, clear halibut fillets per person
1. Crack cold butter from paté and scape off into warmed heavy skillet.
2. Heat butter to medium heat, add fish to the pan.
3. Cook 3-4 minutes on one side, turn over… cover and cook until flaky, which depends on how thick your fish is.
Serve roasted fingerlings tossed with porcini, a sharp salad like arugula with shaved parmesan, a nice wine and good friends!