TONY STAPLES: A luxurious and rich starter for your dinner party

Duck liver parfait with toasted spicy brioche
Duck liver parfait with toasted spicy brioche

While the rest of us might have been enjoying an Indian summer, the chefs of the Arora Hotel in Crawley have been testing Christmas recipes.

Here, executive head chef Tony Staples shares one of his favourites that makes a perfect dinner party starter for any occasion.

I know it’s too early to mention the C word but for myself and the chefs here, we’ve thought about nothing but Christmas for the past month.

It’s the time of year when we cook up all the dishes on our Christmas menu, making tweaks here and there and instructing new members of our team on how to prepare and plate the dishes.

A firm favourite is a duck liver parfait, which we plan to serve on the Big Day with a cider jelly, a salad of purple potatoes and radish, and toasted spicy brioche.

But I thought I’d give readers an early Christmas present and share the recipe which makes a luxurious, rich starter for a dinner party. I know in my house, now the barbecue season has ended, thoughts have turned to inviting friends for a meal. We like to keep things simple so a smooth parfait that can be made a day in advance ticks all the boxes.

By the time our guests at the Arora tuck into this parfait with all its trimmings, my team and I will probably be practising our chocolate tempering skills for Easter.

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Duck Liver Parfait

Makes 12 portions

500g duck livers

500g unsalted butter

4 cloves of garlic – crushed

3 banana shallots – finely chopped

45ml brandy

45ml madeira

4 sprigs of thyme

4 tsp salt

2 level tsp of ground white pepper

5 eggs


Melt 50g of the butter in a small saucepan and gently sweat the garlic and shallots. Add the brandy madeira and thyme and simmer until the liquid has been absorbed. Place in jug blender with the duke livers, remaining butter, salt and pepper and blitz.

Add the eggs and blitz again until moth.

Pass through a sieve and priority a terrine mould or a 2.5cm deep tray measuring 20cm x 25cm.

Place in a roasting dish and pour boiling water around the tray so that the water comes up to the level of the parfait surface. Cover tightly with foil. Carefully place in the preheated oven, 100c for oven, for 45 minutes.

Leave to cool, then cut into oblongs or scoop out quenelle shapes with a tablespoon. Serve with sprinkling of seas salt and toasted brioche.

Chef’s tip

If you are not keen on duck, then you can make this parfait with chicken livers.

It will keep for up to three days in the fridge so perfect for a dinner party.

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