Liver pâté and pickled beetroot

Liver pâté and pickled beetroot

Scandinavian Baking
Columbus Leth

This is a classic Danish lunch dish. If you are lucky enough to be invited to a smørgåsbord for Saturday lunch, this is a very popular dish. I specify Saturday because this is is the day for throwing lunch parties, with both more food and more time to sit and enjoy it.

Liver pâté, (leverpostej), is often eaten cold on rye bread with cucumber. It’s a favourite with children and easily made. I enjoy serving the pâté warm during the winter, with sautéed mushrooms and my own pickled beetroot on top. To me, that’s real comfort food.

You should pickle the beetroot two or three weeks before you serve it.


Quantity Ingredient

For the pickled beetroot

Quantity Ingredient
500g raw beetroot
400ml cider vinegar
300g caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
6 cloves
4 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon black peppercorns

For the pâté

Quantity Ingredient
5-6 canned anchovy fillets
40g butter, plus more for the mould
40g plain flour
450ml semi-skimmed milk
1 large onion, grated
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
225g minced pork back fat, sometimes sold as ‘flare’
500g minced pig’s liver
2 small eggs, lightly beaten
3 bay leaves

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
80g butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
200g portobello mushrooms, sliced
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons finely snipped chives
12-16 slices My classic rye bread
60-80g cold butter


  1. For the pickled beetroot, boil the beetroots with their skins on in salted water for about 30 minutes, depending on their size. Check if they are tender by piercing with a small knife.
  2. Meanwhile, make the brine: add all the remaining ingredients to a pot, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  3. When the beetroots are tender, rinse them in cold water and remove the skins. Cut into wedges or slices and place in a sterilised 1-litre glass jar. Pour the brine over, seal the jar and place in a dark cupboard at room temperature for two or three weeks.
  4. For the pâté, mash the anchovies until they become a lumpy paste. Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan, add the flour and mix to form a roux. Little by little, add the milk, constantly stirring. Bring to the boil and stir in the mashed anchovies, the onion, salt, pepper, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. Add the fat to the boiling sauce, stirring constantly until it melts. Add the liver and stir until it is evenly distributed. Remove the pan from the heat and cool slightly. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Add the eggs to the pâté and stir well.
  5. Pour the pâté mixture into a buttered terrine mould, placing the bay leaves on top. Put the mould into a roasting tin. Pour hot water from the kettle into the roasting tin, to come halfway up the sides of the mould. Carefully slide into the oven and bake, uncovered, for 1 hour 15 minutes.
  6. Leave to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.
  7. While the pâté is cooling, finish off your lunch: melt the butter in a frying pan, add the oil and sauté the mushrooms for about four minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper. Slice the pâté, spoon over the mushrooms and sprinkle with the chives. Serve with the pickled beetroot and the rye bread and butter.
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