While Americans tend to think of pâté as fancy food for fancy people, it’s actually made up of inexpensive meat and organ cuts and other basic ingredients. Pork liver pâté sustained my mother and her seven siblings in post-WWII Yugoslavia and was a staple of my own diet growing up when tough times found us on the brink of food insecurity in Toronto.
For those reasons and many more, pâté remains both a symbol of a certain period in my childhood and also a nourishing, sustaining comfort food. Pâté is the ultimate peasant food.
Pork Liver Pâté Is A Nutrient-Dense Superfood
I’m going to tell you right now that I hate the word “superfood” with every fibre of my being.
It is all too often a cheap marketing tactic employed by food corporations to part consumers with their money. These companies promise you a plethora of superfluous health-benefits from whichever magical berry-of-the-month they managed to scrounge up in some impoverished region of the world to sell to you.
There are entire books, companies, and systems (expensive ones) centred around convincing you that these new foods are the answer to your problems. Humble local foodstuffs are cast aside in favour of exotic powders promising a link to the health and vitality you seek.
Well, the liver — humble, cheap, plentiful liver is a true superfood. It is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. And pork liver pâté is a delicious recipe to enjoy it.
Pork Liver Pâté Nutrition
People will often look to fruits and vegetables for vitamins and minerals, but liver far surpasses them all. And even more importantly — the vitamins and minerals found in the liver are incredibly bioavailable for humans, not so much for many plant foods.
A small amount of liver provides well over 100% of the RDI for many essential nutrients and vitamins: Vitamin B12, A (in the form of highly-bioavailable preformed Retinol which is only found in animal foods), Riboflavin (B2), Folate (B9), Iron, Copper, Choline, and of course — liver is also rich in protein.
Ancestral Health &Wisdom
When my other was pregnant with me in Croatia, she was advised both by her doctor and the old women in our village to eat plenty of liver — at least once a week — for a healthy baby. She followed that advice. As a child, I was also given liver every week, on top of pâté which we all ate several times a week.
This was so commonplace in my home country and I still find it quite surprising that here in Canada, literal poverty food like pâté, is seen as something fancy.
If you look into many cultural practices from traditional cultures thriving on their indigenous, traditional diets — liver plays an important role in health. If you have ever delved into the work of American dentist Weston A. Price, who travelled the world seeking answers to the poor health of Americans, his findings in the monumental 1939 work Nutrition and Physical Degeneration confirm this while giving us an important glimpse into traditional diets from multiple countries.
Liver, Liver Makes Me Shiver
The easiest way to get liver into your diet if you don’t like the taste is through pâté. I can’t imagine anyone disliking the taste of a rich country-style peasant pâté with spices and herbs.
Luckily pâté is incredibly simple to make at home, very cheap, very customizable, and it also freezes quite well if you decide to make a big batch.
Wild Foraged Berries
I use any mixture of wild berries I forage: black or red currant, raspberry, saskatoon berry, blackberry etc. Any single one of those — or a mixture as I prefer — is absolutely lovely in the compote recipe I make to top my rustic pâté.
If you’re not a forager, any domestic berries you can by will do, but especially the above, and also cherries. Sour cherries, in particular, are delicious, as are cranberries.
Another great idea is to drizzle pomegranate syrup or molasses on top of the pork liver pâté, this versatile sauce is easy to make at home and lasts forever:
The Pastured Pork Difference
I will not go into great detail about this here as I’m writing a very thorough article on this very topic, but if you can — find pork liver from pastured animals allowed to forage outside and live a natural life. And seek out old-world heritage breeds like Wild Boar, Tamworth, and Berkshire. The difference in quality and taste, especially for the delicate organs like liver, are night and day.
That’s all I will say about this topic for now.
Serve Pork Liver Pâté Alongside:
My pork liver pâté works beautifully for dinner parties, grazing tables, & picnics. Make alongside these other recipes.
- Bacon-Wrapped Medjool Dates
- Marinated Fried Anchovies With Grilled Halloumi
- Grilled Octopus Salad With Waffle-Cut Sweet Potato Fries
- Mussels in a Bacon, Tomato, Roasted Red Pepper & Red Wine Sauce
This is my recipe that I have been making for years. It is similar to many French and Mediterannean-style country peasant pâté recipes out there. I truly hope you enjoy it.
Country Peasant Pork & Mushroom Pâté With Wild Berry Topping
Make this delicious, nutrient-dense, rustic pork liver & mushroom pâté with wild berry topping and enjoy it throughout the week as a delicious appetizer.
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 3 hours
- Total Time: 4 hours
- Yield: 3.5 lbs 1x
- Category: Appetizer
- Method: Roast and Blend
- Cuisine: French
- Mortar & Pestle (optional but recommended)
- High-powered blender
For The Pâté:
- One whole, fresh pork liver. Preferably from pasture-raised heritage pork and trimmed of any sinew or veins (ask your butcher)
- 2 lbs pork shoulder
- 1/2 pound slab bacon
- 1-pint cremini mushrooms, chopped fine (or another mushroom of your choice)
- 2 large yellow onions
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup whole milk, I prefer raw unpasteurized dairy
- 1/2 cup of port wine, or any sweet dessert wine
- Spices (1 teaspoon each): mustard seed, nutmeg, sumac, black pepper, coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoons of fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup of any one of these berries, dried: black or red currant, cherries, blueberries, or raisins
- Lard and/or butter, sufficient for cooking.
For the Wild Berry Topping/Compote:
- 3 cups of wild (or domestic) berries of choice or a mixture of any of the following: black or red currant, saskatoon berry, raspberry, cranberry, blackberry.
- 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup of maple syrup or honey.
- Dice your onions and allow them to slowly caramelize in lard and/or butter while you continue with the other steps. Whenever they have finished, transfer them into a bowl and store in the refrigerator until further use.
- In a medium pan on medium-high heat melt some lard and/or butter and saute your chopped mushrooms until they have released all of their liquid and are nearly dry. 10-15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 250 Fahrenheit.
- Toast your spices, allow them to cool, and then grind them to a fine powder using a pestle or other grinder.
- Finely dice the slab bacon into small pieces.
- Cut up your pork shoulder into approximately 2-inch sections and season with 1/2 of the toasted and ground spice mixture and a big pinch of salt.
- Place pork shoulder chunks into an oven-safe French or Dutch oven, cover the pork chunks with the diced slab bacon, put a lid on the pot and cook in the oven for 2-3 hours, or until the flesh is fork-tender and easily falls apart. (You can also do this the night before).
- Cut up your pork liver into 1-inch sections and season with the remaining 1/2 of the toasted and ground spice mixture and a big pinch of salt.
- In a medium pan on medium-high heat, heat up butter or lard and saute the pork liver quickly, until still pink in the center. This should take 2-3 minutes. Store in refrigerator until further use.
- Combine your eggs and milk in a bowl, and using either a whisk or electric mixer, beat until smooth.
- Place the egg and milk mixture in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Make the wild berry compote: In a medium saucepan on medium heat, combine all of the ingredients and cook until bubbling and sufficiently thickened. About 10-15 minutes.
- Set berry mixture aside to cool.
- Once the pork shoulder has finished cooking, allow it to cool completely in its own juices.
- In a high-powered blender, combine the cooked liver, pork shoulder, egg & milk mixture, dried fruit, caramelized onions, & fresh thyme.
- Blend until it reaches your desired consistency. I prefer a slightly more rustic mixture.
- Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
- Transfer mixture to jars or bowls, top with fresh wild berry compote and enjoy.
- Freeze any leftovers after a week.
You can top your pâté with melted lard or duck or goose fat instead of the berry compote. This helps it last longer too.
Keywords: pate, pork, pork liver, wine, fresh herbs