Liver Me Timbers!
It takes very little to transform a bag of slippery chicken livers into a delicious topping for toasts that make a fantastic appetizer or canape to serve at pot lucks or cocktail parties. Think you don't like liver? So did I until I learnt to make this at Tante Marie's Cooking School where even the most ardent liver-detestors in the class transformed their opinions after just one bite. Fred too, who accidentally ate one of my crostini not realising that it was made from the "there is no way you are ever going to get me to eat those chicken livers" he had spotted me preparing earlier in the day, and asked me "ummm, what eez zees?"
I made these crostini to take to an Oscar party at Tony and Michael's house where it was a hit. I know, I know, it was a long time ago, I have been procrastinating for far too long, but I promised one of the guests the recipe, so it is about time I posted it up.
4 tablespoons butter (unsalted)
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large white onion, finely chopped
a handful of fresh sage leaves
1 lb chicken livers
1/2 cup dry white wine
small jar of capers, rinsed
loaf of pain au levain or similar country bread
more olive oil to grill bread
flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper
- Trim the chicken livers of all little pieces of sinew and fat. This is my favourite part of the job - they feel so slippery and shiny and smooth, I could happily handle them all day long. How priveleged is a cook to have the honour of performing such tasks?!
- Melt together 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons of olive in a large heavy-bottomed saute pan over low heat.
- Slowly saute the sage and onion in the fat for about 10 minutes until they are soft and translucent. Be careful not to overheat and brown the onions.
- Remove the onions from the pan and set to one side.
- Turn the heat to medium and melt the remaining butter and oil. Add the chicken livers and quickly fry them until they are browned on the outside. Be careful not to overcook the livers or they will toughen and spoil. They should still be pink in the middle and it should only take a few minutes.
- Add the onions and the white wine to the chicken livers. Cook for another 2 minutes.
- The next stage is to roughly blend the mixture to make a coarse pate. I do this with my immersion blender, or you could use a food processor. Be careful not to overdo it - you want a coarse result, not a smooth one.
- Mince the capers and stir them into the mixture along with a generous seasoning of salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
- In a large bowl, coat bread slices with olive oil and a generous pinch of salt (I like to use a coarse sea salt like Fleur de Sel). Then grill or broil the toasts before topping with the chicken liver mixture and garnishing with flat leaf parsley.
Be generous with the parsley - it's more than a visual feature, rounding off the taste perfectly.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
PS. This is an entry for Something out of Nothing over at Toast who is asking for thrifty recipes today. This recipe really delivers - it makes about 24 portions and even though it needs a couple of fancier ingredients like wine and capers, the fact it uses value-for-money chicken livers as its base makes it a great cost-effective dish for entertaining. You can even leave the capers out if you want, and if you are entertaining, then the rest of the wine isn't going to go to waste, is it now?! Read the full roundup of budget recipes here.