It was after five o’clock when Sherlock Holmes left me, but I had no time to be lonely, for within an hour there arrived a confectioner’s man with a very large flat box. This he unpacked with the help of a youth whom he had brought with him, and presently, to my very great astonishment, a quite epicurean little cold supper began to be laid out upon our humble lodging-house mahogany. There were a couple of brace of cold woodcock, a pheasant, a pâté de foie gras pie with a group of ancient and cobwebby bottles. Having laid out all these luxuries, my two visitors vanished away, like the genii of the Arabian Nights, with no explanation save that the things had been paid for and were ordered to this address.
-Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Before anyone launches at me with pitchforks about the whole foie gras and animal cruelty… I used chicken livers.
After scouring the web to do my own research on pâté de foie gras pie, I turned to my trusty Sherlock Holmes cookbook–Dining with Sherlock Holmes; A Baker Street Cookbook. It seems they did plenty of research before deciding on this particular recipe.
As I write this, a movie ‘Mr Holmes’, is out in cinemas. Loved Robert Downey Jr as Sherlock? There’s mention a new movie will be coming out. And of course there’s the Sherlock and Elementary TV shows we’re all glued to.
I grinned, thrilled, when Arthur Conan Doyle showed up as a character in an episode of Murdoch Mysteries. And it seems that, even though Holmes appeared in four novels and 56 short stories, when we close the cover of the last, we still need more. Additional novels have popped up over the years, from spin offs like Jewel of the Thames, (a perfect YA book), or extensions of the Holmes adventures like The House of Silk (the first time a Sherlock novel created by another writer has been authorised by the Conan Doyle Estate).
But sometimes you need to go back to Sherlock as you knew him as you were growing up. My dad introduced me to Sherlock as I was beginning to grew out of Nancy Drew, and needed something more challenging. And it’s probably Sherlock that makes me still reach for mysteries as my first choice of book.
His appeal never seems to end. I came across a quote by Steve Hendrickson, an actor who is currently playing Sherlock in a play, that seems to wrap it up perfectly. He says, “The fun of watching the stories is that there is never really any doubt that Holmes will solve the mystery in the end. The fun is seeing how it is going to happen. If the writer is playing fair, we have more or less the same information Holmes has. How well are we going to keep up?”
- 1 pound /0.5kg chicken livers
- fortified wine (sherry preferably)
- 0.5 pound / 250g lard
- 1 spring onion (or shallot) finely chopped
- ½ cup button or similar mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- pinch of pepper
- ⅓ tsp Pate Spice (see below for the mix)
- sprig of thyme, finely chopped
- 1 small bay leaf
- 4 tbsp gelatine powder (or 4 sheets)
- 2 cups beef stock
- 2 tbsp fortified wine
- 2 tbsp brandy
- ½ cup thickened/heavy cream
- Baked pie shell
- 6 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp thyme
- 1 tbsp ground coriander seed
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- ½ tbsp cloves
- 1 tbsp nutmeg
- 1 tbsp ginger
- 1 tbsp mace
- ½ tbsp ground black pepper
- ½ tbsp white pepper
- ¼ tsp cayenne
- Mix the pate spices together in a blender.
- Rinse the chicken livers, then place in a large bowl and cover with milk. Wrap with cling wrap and place in the fridge for 24 hours.
- hours later, remove from the fridge, and rinse the chicken livers well. Wash out the bowl, then place the livers back in the bowl and cover with fortified wine (the sherry type). Let sit in the fridge for another 24 hours.
- In a frying pan, melt the pork fat (lard/ bacon fat).
- Add the chicken livers and sauté. They need to be cooked but not overdone. The book recommends leaving them 'pink', however while there was still a tinge of pink, I made sure the insides were cooked/ not red.
- Remove the livers from the pan.
- In the leftover fat in the pan, sauté the spring onions and mushrooms. Stir in the spices and herbs.
- Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in with the livers and puree all in a blender.
- In a saucepan, stir together the beef stock and gelatine over medium heat. Continue stirring until the gelatine has dissolved.
- Turn off heat and add in the fortified wine, brandy and thickened cream.
- Pour into the baked pie shell and place in fridge until firm.
Was the bay leaf supposed to stay in or out? I'm not sure, so I pulled it out. I figured it would have infused enough flavour in.