wrapped Chicken Livers on a Rosemary skewers.
all the chattering about the return of foie gras to
California menus, you might be tempted to think that weíve
become a state of liver lovers.
might think that, at least, until you set out to buy some
chicken livers at the supermarket. Hereís a hint: If you
can find them at all, theyíll probably be in the freezer
section. Demand is so low that most markets long ago gave up
on offering them fresh.
you truly appreciate that iron bite flavor of foie gras, and
not just the buttery texture or the consumption of a
conspicuous luxury, youíll find that in abundance in
chef Michel Richard ("Happy in the Kitchen") makes
an utterly delicious foie gras analogue by pureeing a pound
of chicken livers with two sticks of butter (youíll find
the recipe under "Faux Gras" in our California
Cookbook at recipes.latimes.com).
upside of our underappreciation of chicken livers is that
they are really inexpensive. At my neighborhood market, I
paid $1.29 a pound. Youíll be hard-pressed to find any
other meat product priced lower than that.
is not to suggest that chicken liversí appeal is only to
the cheap. Despite the fact that liver seems to be one of
the few foods weíre still allowed to hate without
criticism, chicken livers can be delicious, even though I do
find that with their rich flavor theyíre best appreciated
in smaller portions.
couple of them, dusted with orange zest, wrapped in
prosciutto, skewered on rosemary branches and quickly fried?
Call it Tuscan rumaki if you want; Iíll have seconds.
donít even get me started on Richard Olneyís old-school
chicken liver mousse from "Simple French Food." Itís
little more than chicken livers blended with milk and eggs
and baked until set ó ridiculously luxurious for something
so simple. A slice served with a tart salad of bitter greens
makes a perfect light dinner.
saute them with pancetta and browned onions and chop them
coarsely for a crostini topping as they do at AOC and Mozza.
What a satisfying appetizer with a glass of wine on a cool
are a couple of tricks to cooking chicken livers. The most
important, probably, is being careful not to overcook them.
Sear them in a very hot pan for only a minute or two per
livers should be set but still rosy pink inside. Served this
way, they are silky with a complex flavor. Cook them even a
little too long and the texture becomes chalky and the taste
more one-note bitter.
also helps to clean them well. Older books tell you to watch
for dark green spots (bile, very bitter), but in years of
cooking chicken livers I donít think Iíve ever seen
this. If you do, cut it away; usually, though, youíll just
need to trim the exterior fat and any stringy connective
oft-repeated piece of advice is to soak chicken livers in
milk before cooking them, but Iíve never read why.
Curious, I sauteed a couple of unsoaked livers at the same
time as ones that had been immersed in milk. I found the
soaked livers seemed to have a slightly fuller, rounder
flavor, so Iíll keep doing that. (If youíre starting
with frozen livers, itís a simple enough matter to defrost
them in a bowl of milk.)
chicken livers the next foie gras? Itís unlikely, but they
do have an allure all their own. And, at $1.29 a pound
instead of $50 to $60 (plus shipping), thatís not chopped
CHICKEN LIVERS ON ROSEMARY SKEWERS
minutes, plus soaking time for the livers. Serves 4 to 6
pound chicken livers
4 to 6
fresh (5- to 6-inch long) woody rosemary branches
teaspoon grated orange zest
pound sliced prosciutto, slices halved crosswise
tablespoon minced shallots
cup white wine
Separate the chicken livers into individual lobes,
discarding any that fall apart. Cover with milk and set
aside for an hour.
Strip all of the leaves from the rosemary branches except
for an inch at the tip. Mince and reserve one-half teaspoon
of the leaves.
Rinse the livers and gently pat dry with a paper towel.
Season with 1 teaspoon salt, freshly ground pepper and
orange zest, and toss gently to mix well.
Wrap each liver in a piece of prosciutto and thread it onto
the rosemary branches. You should get about 4 livers to a
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
When the butter is hot, add the chicken liver skewers and
cook until the prosciutto crisps, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per
Remove the skewers to a warm tray, add the shallots and cook
until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the white wine and the
reserved minced rosemary, and cook, scraping up any brown
bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, until the wine reduces
to a syrup, about 3 minutes.
Pour the sauce over the skewers and serve hot.
hours, 45 minutes. Serves 8 to 10
pound chicken livers
cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
clove garlic, chopped
Cover the chicken livers with milk and set aside for at
least one hour.
Heat the oven to 325 degrees and butter a 6-cup mold. Line
the mold with parchment and butter again.
Puree the livers, butter, garlic, milk, whole eggs and egg
yolks in a blender. Pass through a strainer into a bowl.
Season with the salt and a couple of grinds of pepper.
Pour the mixture into the prepared mold and tap it lightly
on a cutting board to free any trapped air bubbles. Put a
folded towel in the bottom of a baking or roasting pan large
enough to hold the mold. Place the mold on top of the towel
and put it in the oven on the middle rack. Pour warm water
into the pan up to the level of the liver mixture. If you
see the water start to boil, lower the temperature and open
the oven door.
Bake to an internal temperature of 155 to 160 degrees, about
1 hour and 15 minutes. The center will be slightly firm to
the touch, and the edges will be just beginning to shrink
from the sides. Cool completely before unmolding and
Adapted from Richard Olneyís "Simple French