Saturday, 11 June 2011

Stand and Deliver

Fegatini di Pollo & Polenta
Sautéed Chicken Livers & Polenta

It's a funny thing about liver and the way it seems to be another one of those things that people either love or hate.

And I have to say that I really like liver- especially juicy and tender chicken or turkey liver, which is simply delicious. I think most people think of liver as being a dry and mealy affair, which has to be covered in onions and gravy to make it edible. Even then, alas, it is usually overcooked and tough... which makes it no wonder that a lot of people have an aversion to it.

But let me tell you- it doesn't have to be that way!

Preparing perfect liver is not a difficult thing to do- there are just a couple of tricks you need to know and then you will achieve great results all of the time. The first thing you need to do, is to clean the livers properly, removing any sinewy and fatty parts and especially the fine membrane that covers them. You can pick this off quite easily- it is a little hard to see, but if you slide your knife gently under the surface, you will be able to pick it off, probably in one piece. That's trick number one. The only other thing to remember is to not salt the liver at all until it is done. Salt draws the moisture out of the liver and that is the thing that makes it tough and pasty in texture. Now you know the 2 big secrets, you are ready to get going on making this wonderfully light and tasty Summer meal!

First of all, you need to prepare your polenta. Making your own polenta is a great thing to do and it is very simple. But I will forgive you for buying it pre-made... after all- this time around, I did too! It is just that you do need to plan ahead otherwise and have it set and cool thoroughly in order for you to be able to fry it up nicely, without it falling apart or sticking. Anyway- onwards, ever onwards!

Heat up your grill pan and add a little olive oil. Slice the polenta to about the thickness of a CD cover or so and start it frying at a moderate heat. Try to avoid the temptation to touch it for at least 3 minutes. The first time you flip it over, it won't have gained much color, but the texture will have changed and it will have a nice glaze to it. Once you have got this far with each side respectively, add a couple of cloves of garlic into the pan and some chopped rosemary. Don't do this right from the beginning as it will burn otherwise. Salt and pepper generously and grate lightly with nutmeg. It will probably take between 10 and 15 minutes of gentle cooking to get the polenta to develop a nice golden crust and a rich, garlic and rosemary flavor... which is good- as that is plenty of time to get the liver ready!

Dust the liver lightly with flour and fry at a moderate heat in a little olive oil. A little garlic and a good sprinkle of fresh oregano can go into the mix after 3-4 minutes. Again, pepper generously but remember to not add any alt at this point. When the liver begins to exude some of its juices, or a little blood (no it is NOT disgusting!!!), you can pop a couple of spring onions into the pan too- the do go well with liver after all- and they will be sweet and delicious by the end of the cooking time.

I served my liver with a thick slice of romaine lettuce, topped with cress and dressed simply with olive oil, sea salt and vinegar, and sprinkled it with red pepper corns for a bit of bite and a splash of color. I de glazed the pan I fried the liver in, with a tiny splash of white wine, a little balsamic vinegar, a bit more oregano and a drizzle of honey. I let this continue to simmer whilst I set out my ingredients decoratively. By the time I was finished, it had cooked down to a nice consistency and I put a tablespoonful over each piece of liver. Now you can finally sprinkle a little salt on your liver and call your guests to the table... Dinner is served!


  1. Oh boy, that does look good! To bad my chaps won't entertain the idea of liver. :( I'll have to do them as a lunch, one day, just for me!

  2. Jenny- I am thrilled that you like it! It is so sad that so many people think they don't like liver- they have just never eaten it prepared properly I think! Anyway- hope you enjoy trying it out! Best, Francesco