Sunday, 29 November 2015

Wintertime- but the Liver is Easy

Fegatini di Pollo con Cipolla & Salvia
Chicken Livers with Sage & Onion

No, it's not everybody's favorite by any means- but that's ok... it just means there is a little bit more of it for us to enjoy, right?

I am talking about liver- liver in general but this evening in particular, small, tender and juicy, chicken liver. At least that is how it should be! If you prepare it correctly, it will be- and you will not have those traumatic memories of the tough, dry, stuff you were made to eat as a child... it will be something you will really, really enjoy now you are all grown up!

Yes, my plate looks kind-of "old school"- and that's exactly what it was... prepared with sage and sweet onion, with a dash of Marsala, this was a classic treat. And with roast potato and carrot on the side, it was honestly, an absolute joy to eat!

Obviously, this was a small amount of ingredients in all, as I was only cooking for one, but the quantities are not really relevant here- it is the method that is most important. 

But what you will need, to go with your liver, is onion and sage, a little flour, salt, pepper, sugar and olive oil. A little fresh parsley adds a touch of freshness and color and a splash of Marsala makes the gravy into a real treat. And a very easy-to-prepare one at that!

If you had been served something as tender and juicy as this as a child, I am sure you would love liver a whole lot more! But to be honest- my dear mamma also cooked the stuff to death too! I had to learn how to do it all by my lonesome!

The first thing I did was to turn on the oven to get it hot and to start my potatoes and carrots boiling. I cut the potatoes into relatively small chunks as the carrots were also small and tender and boiled them in salted water for 15 minutes whilst I prepared the rest of my meal.

I prepared a little flour for dipping my liver in, to which I added plenty of freshly ground pepper, and for this amount (2-3 livers), 4-5 finely chopped sage leaves... and of course- no salt! 

That is the whole secret with preparing liver- do NOT add salt until if is cooked and only add it just before it is ready to serve. If you add salt during cooking, it draws the moisture out of the liver and makes it tough, dry and mealy. Ugh! Sounds like that nasty stuff you used to hate as a child, right? Right! So- don't do it!

I prepared the onion separately in a small pan- and the way I like to do it is by adding just enough water to the cover the bottom of the pan and to steam/boil the onion at first. Once it comes up to the boil, stir it through, put on the lid and let it cook for 3-4 minutes, then remove the lid and continue cooking until all of the water has evaporated.

Once all of the water is gone and the onion is soft and transparent, add a little olive oil and salt and fry until slightly brown, then add a pinch of sugar and keep stirring until it becomes slightly caramelized. Add a last splash of water to pick up all of the good flavors that have accumulated on the bottom of the pan and by the time that has evaporated away, you will have lovely golden and delicious onion without all of the fat. Cool.

In another frying pan, in a little olive oil, dip in the flour and sage mixture and fry the liver for 2-3 minutes from either side until it becomes golden and crispy.

At this point, drain your carrots and potatoes and drizzle them with olive oil and a little extra salt, then pop them into a hot oven, at 220°C to begin roasting and getting nicely golden brown.

There will be a little blood coming out whilst it cooks and that is normal- but still, fry it only for 2-3 so it gets a lovely color like this and then remove from the heat.

up, ready to go into the oven with the potatoes.

The potatoes should be nicely golden on one side by now, so toss them over and continue roasting. The liver will continue cooking in the oven and by the time you have made the gravy, it will be pink and tender and cooked through... and perfect!

For the gravy, put the onions into the pan that you used for frying the liver, which is of course filled with good flavor and deglaze with a splash of Marsala. Add water, salt, pepper and some of the left-over flour and sage that you used to dip the liver in to thicken it up.

Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer, and let it bubble away for 4-5 minutes.

Now you can finally unwrap the liver and give it that sprinkle of salt that it so dearly needs! Serve with the gravy and of course those lovely roasted vegetables, sprinkle with parsley... and enjoy!

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