Living the Good Life…

My food blog & cookbook in progress

Bird livers

Liver is not a favorite food and I will admit that I still don’t seeking out the livers of larger animals for consumption. But bird livers are different. Think pate people…  or better still, foie gras? One of those politically incorrect foods that is a splendid taste sensation. But that’s French, one might say, and besides, there are things that folks are willing to try when presented in the ready-to-eat form but are unwilling to prepare oneself. (Many folks feel that way about meat actually). But the first time – and only one actually – I visited Costa Rica and saw chicken livers for sale outside the context of the bird, Carl and I decided to experiment. The dish that emerged was a spicy saute with lots of onions and green chillies and a masala mixture that we ate taco style, wrapped in tortillas with plenty of lime and cilantro. Wrapped in larger tortillas and sliced into pinwheels, the same mixture became an elegant if fiery first course at a friend’s party this past November. Here’s the recipe

Chicken liver fry for tacos or katthi rolls

Saute a generous amount of sliced onions, ginger, garlic and green chillies (optional) in a hot skillet until they begin to brown. Add salt and a good rather coarsely-ground garam masala mixture [use for example coriander seed, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, black pepper, a Bay leaf, dried red chillies; The quartet of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and nutmeg are not essential and should be added according to taste and availability] and then, while maintaining quite a high flame,  the chopped chicken livers (and hearts) and continue to stir briskly. Remove from heat once the liver are cooked through but before they begin to toughen. To serve, place 1-2 spoonfuls on a warmed burrito, add fresh chopped cilantro and scallions and green chillies if desired, sprinkle with lime or lemon and roll it up. Slicing these burritos into pinwheels makes for a nice starter, but its also possible to just eat them burrito or fajita style, washed down with your favorite beverage of choice.

A second experiment was inspired when we were cooking ducks in lieu of turkey for Thanksgiving in 2002 at my friends Ringo and Markus’ place in Columbus. Now ducks – even ordinary ones – have rather large livers. They didn’t really go with our roast duck recipes overly well, but I as usual, was loathe to chuck them. Since Marcus’ presence (after all it was his kitchen) ensured the availability of good wine even during the cooking process, I was seized with the sudden inspiration for a pre-dinner pate-type snack. Duck livers have since been out of my league but just last week, a batch of chicken livers – which I should add are very popular here in Egypt and even offered on the menus of local restaurants (I highly recommend trying some) – and some left-over port spurred me to try this version:

Pate or mousse of bird livers with mushrooms

Saute some garlic and scallions (or shallots or onions) in butter over a low heat until softened but not brown. Add some soaked porcini or morel mushrooms if available as well as brown or white button mushrooms and continue to saute over a low flame, Next add the chopped bird livers (and hearts if you have them as well) and stir a few times. Add some port wine (or other wine or brandy)  to the pan, season with salt and black pepper to taste and simmer gently until the liver is just cooked and the wine nearly all evaporated. Add cream, some prepared Dijon mustard (smooth not grainy) and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Stir well and warm through until mixture comes together. Take off heat, allow to cool slightly and then blend in a food processor, adding more cream if a smoother consistency is desired. Pour mixture in a ceramic bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. Bring to room temperature before serving. I actually steamed the bowl just a little very gently (without a cover) but I’m not sure that’s necessary. Yummy served with a baguette or crackers and a robust red wine.

1 Comment»

  Swiss Kitsch « Peregrine chronicles wrote @

[…] liver katthi roll […]


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