This recipe makes more than enough for eight; any extra will come in handy as a ready-made snack. The pâté can be refrigerated for up to four days. Spread 1 tablespoon of melted butter over the surfaces to seal the pâté and prevent discoloration.
2 pounds chicken livers, lobes separated and well trimmed
1/2 cup milk
1/2 pound sliced bacon
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
6 tablespoons Cognac
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 cup heavy cream
1 baguette, thinly sliced and toasted, for serving
In a medium bowl, soak the chicken livers in the milk for 30 minutes to remove any bitterness; drain and pat dry.
In a large heavy skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until totally crisp, about 8 minutes. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat.
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in the bacon fat over moderately high heat. When the butter stops foaming, add one-third of the chicken livers to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Cook without stirring until browned, about 2 minutes per side. The livers should be pink inside but not bloody. Transfer them to a plate. Repeat with the 2 remaining batches of livers, using 1/2 tablespoon butter for each batch.
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in the skillet. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add the Cognac, parsley and thyme and boil for 1 minute.
Scrape the contents of the skillet into a food processor and add the chicken livers, the bacon and the remaining 5 tablespoons butter. Puree until smooth. Add the cream and process to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the pâté into four 1-cup crocks, smooth the tops and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour. Serve with the toasts.