Recipe: Juniper-scented chicken liver pate on crostini

A recipe and wine match from Daring pairings by Evan Goldstein

January 03rd, 2011


This dish illustrates the principle of serving barbera early in the meal with antipasti, pastas as primi piatti, and other starter dishes. Chicken liver crostini is a perfect match with barbera of almost any style. Its richness is cut by barbera’s acidity, while the meatiness cries out for the dense fruit character and tannin of a red.

A frizzante style (of barbera) can hold up just as well as the still wines do. Even those modern, oaky interpretations have the smooth, silky richness and spice profile to pick up on the juniper and the sweetness coming from the tomato sauce.

The secret to a sweet, creamy result (for the pate) is not to overcook the dish. Try to serve the mixture slightly warm, which will make the livers luscious in texture. Juniper berries add a cleansing sparkle to the earthy liver, and the tomato sauce helps it all hang together. Making this dish is a messy job, but it’s quick and always gets a rave review.


Juniper-scented Chicken Liver Pate on Crostini

Evan Kleiman – Angeli Caffe, Los Angeles, California

Makes 4 to 6 hors d’oeuvre servings


1 baguette or Italian filone

Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling (optional)


1 pound chicken livers

Quarter cup extra virgin olive oil

1 thin slice prosciutto, minced

3 tablespoons tomato sauce

1 or 2 juniper berries, crushed in a mortar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


To make the crostini, preheat the oven to 350°F. Thinly slice the bread, and arrange the slices on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Place in the oven and toast the slices just until they begin to color, about 5 minutes. Do not leave them until they have darkened so much they become hard. Let cool completely, then use immediately, or store in a zippered plastic bag at room temperature for up to 3 or 4 days.

To make the pâté, using a sharp knife, clean the livers, trimming away any fat, membrane, or green spots. In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the livers, prosciutto, tomato sauce, and juniper berries, season with salt and pepper, and sauté, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, just until the livers start to firm up, 5 to 8 minutes. Do not overcook the livers or they will be bitter.

Use the edge of the spoon to cut into 1 or 2 livers to check for doneness. A touch of pink should be visible in the center. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the warm mixture to a large cutting board, and chop with a chef’s knife to form a rough purée. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Scrape the warm liver mixture into a small, colorful serving bowl, place in the center of a platter, and surround with the crostini. Or, smear a little of the warm liver mixture atop each crostino and arrange the crostini on a platter. Serve at once.


Reproduced with permission of University of California Press © Evan Goldstein 2010


Read our full review of Daring Pairings here »

Daring Pairings by Evan Goldstein is published by University of California Press (Berkeley and LA; 2010; hb 353 pp) and retails for RRP US$34.95  or RRP A$55.95 in Australia.

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