Unlike many of my American friends who were tormented by liver as children, I actually do like liver. Well, I do if either my mother or I made the dish. Oh… and I shouldn’t forget that liver breakfast served by the Pegasus hotel in Jamaica. At least, they used to when I frequented that place about 10 years ago. Liver just happens to be one of those dishes that can so easily cross the very thin line between sumptuous and sickening, light and leathery. This is especially true of cow’s liver, which I have been unfortunate enough to dive it only to find myself masticating like a cow! For that reason, I prefer to eat liver only from people whose cooking abilities I can entrust my liver eating palate only to – those who have consistently demonstrated the ability to respect that line of demarcation. Until I discovered liver pate, I thought that was a realm occupied only by myself and the chef at Pegasus. Liver pate is one of those dishes that are remarkably forgiving of overcooking. I’ve never made liver pate myself but have been happily eating it since Anders introduced me to it on my first trip to Denmark a few years back. It is the key part of one of his favorite smørrebrød items.
Sometimes little things can really show the differences in culture. I was visiting Denmark recently, buying the roll below at the local baker. As I was about to leave the bakery, I saw a woman coming to the door through the glass window. I opened the door to hold it for her, but instead of coming inside, she looked at me and stepped aside to let me out. In Denmark, chivalry is dead if it ever existed, and this woman realized that I got to the door first, and so I should use it first. She did not for one second consider I was holding the door for her. Being Danish, and hungry, I left the baker letting the door fall shut behind me. Perhaps this is the price of equality between the sexes, 50 years of hard struggle in Denmark. No man should hold the door for a woman, because “Don’t they think we can do it ourselves?” Danish women often think that men being chivalrous are a sign from the men that they feel superior. I guess you can argue both ways, but a glimpse into my old culture that could perhaps use an upgrade. My sister loves it when I hold the doors, so there is still hope.
The most common sandwich in Denmark is probably the liver pâté Sandwich. Every school kid knows it, and often hates it due to the sometimes bare-bones minimum effort put into making it. This sandwich here we call “The Grey Lady”, and it’s a play on the traditional liver pâté ‘blah’ version – A serious upgrade if you will. It is not the most attractive sandwich, but it taste awesome. One last upgrade we could still add is using goose liver pate, but we couldn’t find any locally so that will have to wait.
Sometimes a simple sandwich is the best; this one has Maria’s liver pâté, onion, creamy garlic paste and a little onion. A perfect combo, so despite an urge add more, we stuck to ‘simple’. After being sick with the cold for 5 days, this was also pretty much what we could handle, as we were both exhausted. It’s nice to recover with a great sandwich, and we hope to get back to creating some great new ones this upcoming weekend. Thanksgiving is also approaching, so if anyone has great turkey sandwiches, let us know and we just might give them a try!
When I was a kid, every other weekend I would spend with my dad and my step-mom. They lived in an old house in a residential neighborhood outside Copenhagen, with a great big yard with lots of plants and flowers and tables tucked away in corners. We always ate lunch outside when the weather was good, and I remember at the time I didn’t like it that much because of the bees, but it really was an amazing place to enjoy a good meal.
When I came visiting, often the first thing that greeted me was the smell of baked liver Pâté. My step-mom made the best liver Pâté I’ve ever had, and while it baked the whole house would take on the flavor and everyone would start gathering in the kitchen when we knew it was just about time to remove it from the oven. Ten minutes before, we would start toasting some dark rye bread and setup lunch outside. We would all gather the plates, cutlery and work together as a team, knowing that the reward was just around the corner.
The sound of the old timer’s bell chiming was the most wonderful thing you’ll ever hear. As we sat outside in the sun, making our warm liver pâté sandwiches, a silence fell as we enjoyed that first bite.
Perhaps I make it sound overly romantic, but that’s my own experience with this pate. My step-mom’s secret ingredient was curry, and she never gave it away. A few years ago cancer overcame her, and we thought her recipe was lost forever. However, a couple of months ago while I was visiting Denmark, I asked my sister again if she had found the recipe, and to my surprise she had. Tucked away in a pile of papers that had gone unnoticed for years, there it was.
So now, for the first time in maybe 15 years, this pâté which I have named Maria’s Liver Pâté after my step-mom, has finally seen the light of day again.
And once more, the house smells like childhood and summer and bees and flowers, and everything is as it should be.
It can sometimes be very hard to find a great liver paté in your local grocery stores. Thankfully, creating one from scratch is easier than you might think, and the result is amazing. This recipe was handed down to me from my step mother Maria, who wooed everyone she knew with this magic creation. It is simply the best liver pâté I have ever had anywhere, and that says a lot. It is also very easy to make, given you can find the raw ingredients, which are not that common anymore, but which any decent butcher should be able to divine.
I consider this a variation on the veterinarians midnight snack, a classic Danish sandwich (In Danish: ‘Dyrlægens natmad‘. Try saying that one!). The bones of Anders’ Viking ancestors will rattle in their graves to protest me saying this, but in this variant, the inclusion of the roasted garlic and the removal of the aspic is a HUGE improvement. Together, those simple actions make this sandwhich palatable for me, a non-Dane. Anders thinks this presentation is a bit more playful, looking a bit like a rib cage or something medieval. I suppose, it’s his attempt at appeasing the spirits 🙂 It consists of liver pate on home-baked rye bread with butter, with a rolled up slice of ham. This is topped with half-moon slices of onion rings, roasted garlic and a couple of dill pickles. Fennel seeds and ground black pepper spices it up a bit.