Monday, June 6, 2011

Counting Calories and Chicken Liver Pate

It's no secret that I'm a calorie counter. What does that mean exactly? Well, what it doesn't mean is that I count "exact calories". There's no way anyone should live in fear of an "exact" calorie count of consumed foods. It may seen contradictory to what I'm saying but what I believe is more important than "exact" calorie count is educating yourself on the facts about how much food, how many calories, you eat.

I think more people than not have absolutely no idea how much food, or calories, they eat in relation to maintaining a healthy bodyweight......including myself sometimes! In these current times, in this modern culture, there is so much abundance that overeating has become the "norm". Once you know how much you are eating then the choice is yours. But if you are overweight then you are eating too much and consuming more calories than your body needs for the energy it puts out, period.

How can you make cutbacks if you don't know what to cut back? You have to educate yourself. Once you are familiar with most foods it's easy to gauge, or guesstimate your daily calories....but if you still weigh more than you say you want to weigh then you are guesstimating your daily calories too low!

It's fine if you don't want to cut back but don't look like a deer in the headlights.....

One of my favorite meals for the past few months is chicken liver pate. I spread it on apple slices, I spread it on crackers, I even spread it on prunes! I freakin' love chicken liver pate! I first learned how to make it from an Italian caterer I stayed with for a week in Tuscania, Italy. It's really easy, but for some reason, although I would buy a pound of chicken livers, I hate to admit, I would never get around to it and ended up throwing them out.....along came "Hip Pressure Cooking".

Elle, who has a blog called "Hip Pressure Cooking", and had commented a few times here on my blog, posted a pressure cooker chicken pate recipe and I've been making it at least once a week since!

Sure chicken liver pate is higher in fat, but it's high in protein also. With Elle's recipe only 2 tablespoons of butter is used, compared to a whole stick (yikes), so it's relatively lower in calories per serving. Oh...but here's the really cool only takes 3 minutes in the PC! The whole process probably takes less than 20 minutes from the first slice of onion to measuring out and portioning the finished product.


I was at the Farmers' Market in Palo Alto on Saturday and bought what I've been waiting for all winter....pasture fed chicken livers! Talk about decadent! I bought 2 lbs of pasture fed chicken livers knowing that I would have to cook it all and freeze some of it. Sure I could have bought only one pound but I was scared I wouldn't get back to the market for more....hmnn...leftover childhood fear of not getting enough...oh well....

I tried to make a "double batch" one time and it just didn't turn out right, so tonight I made two separate batches. While the first batch was cooking I prepped the ingredients for the next batch. I cut one extra large onion for both and then measured out the rest of the ingredients exactly. I know I put more onion in the first batch, but for some reason the first batch measured out to 28 oz., where the second batch measured out to 16 oz...? Big difference.

Pressure cooking does create steam, so the first batch not only had slightly more onion, but probably more steam moisture. Either way counting the calorie per serving is the same. The first batch has bigger serving per calories, but I suspect the flavor in the second batch will be more concentrated. Lucky for me my taste palate is not that sensitive!

Sometimes I use a recipe calorie counter to calculate the total calories in any of my personal recipes and then divide the total per servings. Here's the link to the calculation of my chicken liver pate:

1 pound chicken liver 757 (750)
1 lg onion 44 (0)
1 tablespoon olive oil 119 (100)
2 oz brandy 126 (120)
2 tbl capers 4 (10)
2 anchovy fillets 17 (20)
2 tablespoon butter 204 (200)

1271 total (1200)

Above is the calories listed by the recipe calculator, in parenthesis is what I would have guessed based on my own knowledge or research. I was "off" by about 70 calories but divided by 4 or 6 servings it is only less than a 20 calorie difference. Not a big deal for everyday life.

As you can see from the picture above I was able to divide the first batch into three 7-8oz portions (2 serving per portion, 200 calories per), and the second batch into two 8 oz portions (again 2 serving per portion, 300 calories per). I will freeze 3 portions leaving one of each batch in the fridge for the next 3 days to "taste test".

I love chicken liver pate....and so does Mark!

Picture at top was borrowed from Elle's blog.


Maribel said...

Guess I'll be picking up some chicken livers this week ;)

Being from Mexico, We are used to eating all parts of an animal...sooo different from the American eat only no skin chicken breast custome. It's refreshing to see people using something as simple as liver, which usually gets tossed.

Tracy Reifkind said...


I just finished some with apple slices, and I have to say, it may be all in my head but I do, in fact, think it tastes better....cleaner, "clearer", lighter, in some way.

Make time to scoot down the the Market after class on Sat for the pasture fed chicken livers.

I used to buy feet for stock, but I have so many free bones leftover from the meat I cook that buying more is just silly.....even though feet make the most killer tasting chicken stock...hey, I think I just talked myself into buying some!

elle pee said...

Hi Tracy, thank you so much for sharing my recipe! I have an out-of-this-world hummus coming (6/22) that I really think you will love. The fat from that recipe only comes from the tahini (and we know it's "good fat" ; ) and the little swirl of olive oil you put on top.

Funny story related to your delicious "pasture fed chickens"....

I was recently in Germany talking about pressure cooking and I was telling them about high-end foods like "grass-fed beef." The whole room fell into a silence and I saw a lot of perplexed faces and even heard a snicker. I was in a room full of German foodies and they had never heard of that term. During that long, awkward pause images of the green cow-dotted hills on the way to the talk filled my head.


So I added, "In America cows are not let to pasture. They are grown industrially, kept in their stalls and fed corn. Lots of it. So Americans had to make up a term to describe the few cows that are still left to pasture and eat grass and hay - as is the norm in Germany and the rest of Europe. Meat from a cow raised in this 'natural' way has become a premium product."

Everyone was on the edge of their seats with a shocked look on their face.

In fact, their ground meat was very lean. A cow that pastures produces a less fatty beef!

So that is my way to say that you are not "imagining" a cleaner taste from these "pasture fed chickens" you are tasting the meat from a healthy animal who has eaten all kinds of natural seeds, grains and insects - not to mention supporting the farmer who has taken the time to do this.



hip pressure cooking
making pressure cooking hip, one recipe at a time!

JenG said...

I have cooked chicken livers before and I so wanted to like them, and I really loved the taste, but I couldn't get by the texture. I think this is just the ticket!!! I am going to try this. :)

Tracy Reifkind said...


I'm kinda "hummus-ed out", lol. I used to make it regularly, all kinds of combinations of flavors but out favorite was with roasted red bell and roasted jalapenos.

Still have a few batches in the freezer.

Thanks for the pate recipe! At some point I want to try including an apple and using calvados instead of brandy.

Tracy Reifkind said...


Yep, the two textures are completely different as you can imagine. The more fat (butter) you use in the pate the creamier it will be.

Also you can use cooked chicken thigh meat for 1/2 or part of the livers. Don't give up yet!