26 June 2008

What Am I? Chopped Liver?

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Obvious, but how could I let that title pass me by? I also considered "De-liver-ance" and "An Offal-y Big Adventure." Sometimes I spend forever diddling over a title and now I have an embarrassment of riches. But truly, liver: it ain't that bad. It's not all that cheap either, unfortunately - a 300g pot of chicken livers costs $3.50. Considering the nature of offal - the fact that it's so undesirable - shouldn't it be cheaper? But after prowling through my Nigella books and also spurred on by Claudia Roden's The Food Of Italy, I decided to dip my toe into the heady world of eating vital organs.




Above: Claudia Roden's Chicken Livers with Marsala. As well as being generally disliked by children world-over, liver is also not going to win any Miss Photogenic sashes any time soon. Even soft-focus didn't really help.

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Overheard in our kitchen:

Me: Tim, don't hate me but...
Tim: (urgently) What did you do?
Me: We're having liver for dinner.
Tim: Ah. (nonplussed silence ensues.)

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This was actually genuinely very, very good. Oh, I won't lie, livers can have a funky texture - almost chalky in places, and disarmingly squishy in others - but they taste fine. Tim really liked it too. But then how could you turn down anything dripping with butter, bacon, and ambrosial Marsala wine? Probably a running shoe could be embiggened by being cooked in those ingredients.


Fegatini di Pollo al Marsala (sounds so much sexier in Italian, doesn't it?)

200g chicken livers
1 small onion, chopped
15g butter
2 slices pancetta or bacon, chopped
6 T dry Marsala

Clean the livers and leave them whole. I should point out here that I diced them, because I felt I could handle them better in smaller chunks. Fry the onion in the butter, until soft but not browned. Add the bacon and fry for 2 minutes, stirring, then add the chicken livers. Saute quickly, turning over the pieces until browned but still pink inside. Add salt and pepper to taste and the Marsala. Cook for 1-2 minutes longer, then serve over noodles with lots of chopped parsely.


That wasn't the end of my foray into liver though. Inspired by a couple of meatball recipes in Nigella's How To Eat, I thought that combining beef mince and chopped liver to make meatballs would not only make the mince go further, it would provide intriguing flavour and add lots more vitamins. Livers are very, very healthy you know. Probably wouldn't be so healthy if chickens were able to drink alcohol like humans.





Now I want to put liver into every meatball recipe. These were fabulous - soft and light and almost smoky in flavour. And because of the liver, we got eight meatballs each. Woohoo! I also added an egg, a grated carrot, some bran, a pinch of ground cloves, and a tablespoon of semolina. Frankly, the mixture looked completely nasty, but once they started to bake the kitchen smelled incredible. I whipped up a quick sauce by reducing some red wine (the dregs of a bottle from Tim's and my night out a few weeks ago) and added a tin of chopped tomatoes, some dried oregano, and a spoonful of butter, before piling the whole lot over some rice. Tim flipping loved these. Hoorah for offal!
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Above: The obligatory whisk-with-something-attached photo.
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Not liver, but I'd completely forgotten to mention this so here it is. After Tim's tooth operation last week (the utterly stupid dentists only completed about a quarter of his necessary work and then sent him off, unable to get an appointment for another week) he was in some crazy pain, so a dinner in puree form was my challenge. I came up with a Potato, Carrot, and White Bean Mash, which filled his need for carbs (and my need for legumes) as well as providing vegetables and protein. It was beyond simple, I just boiled the heck out of 500g unpeeled floury potatoes (hey, it was a cold night and we eat big) and 2 chopped carrots. I drained a tin of cannelini beans, before tipping the veges over them in the colander. This I tipped back into the pot, and using the masher, pulverised the lot. Because of the nature of the ingredients, this is never going to be super-fluffy, but nonetheless it's worth getting out the whisk. I whisked in some milk, butter, salt and nutmeg, and piled this puffy, orange-and-white mash into two bowls. It turned out to be incredibly comforting stuff - warm, soft, buttery...If you are ever feeling fragile, I totally recommend it. It is probably worth mentioning that this would serve 3-4 normal people as a side dish.
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It is so nice to be on holiday but a bit depressing that it's basically half over already. However, I can hardly describe the joy I felt in reading a book for its own sake. Just grabbing a book that I wanted to read. I turned to page one of Wicked: The Life and Times of The Wicked Witch on Sunday afternoon, and by Monday morning I'd finished it. It was so good - so fully realised - so sinister -and so heartbreaking by the end. Thanks to everyone who attempted to vote for me at the Bloggers' Choice Awards - I have no idea when it closes but I'm more than happy to reciprocate if there are any bloggers out there also having a go. And uh, yeah, their page is a little, shall we say, obtusely designed.

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Next time: In complete contrast to chicken livers, I dabble in raw vegan cookery. I'm not joking! Although cookery is obviously the wrong term. Perhaps 'assembly'?

14 comments:

  1. You did make them look good, hahaha! You actually made liver look good. And your comfort food puree sounds delcious, too.

    Glad you liked the book!

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  2. Yum I love liver!

    When I was younger, my mum and I used to caramelise onions in a pan, add chopped liver and then get a loaf of fresh crusty bread and eat it straight out of the pan - standing next to the stove! No-one else in our family liked it so we got it all to ourselves.

    Thanks for reminding me of this, I haven't eaten liver in years!

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  3. I'm just not a big fan of liver, but I have a big bowl of chicken livers soaking in the fridge to get rid of some of the blood so I can(hopefully) turn it into something edible:-) Your chopped liver actually looks pretty good. I might have to try it with some of the livers I have soaking.

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  4. Mmmmm, love liver and your recipe sounds good. I usually use lambs liver so must try the chickens.
    Hey! I like the new photo...well, I don't recognise it so it looks new to me!!

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  5. Do you know that polar bear liver has the highest iron content of any liver?...First,catch your polar bear.

    Used to do liver a fair bit in my earnest healthy-cooking days. Mum used to fry it dipped in flour, with bacon and onions. Never really knew what it was in those days but we always ate it. Used to love kidneys too - steak and kidneys....MMMMm (Cue Homer Simpsonesque tones).

    Now, for an offally good meal,how about tripe in loads of parsely sauce. My absolute fave offal..."off all" time. (geddit?)

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  6. Offal is something I havent ever and am never likely to eat, can't come to terms with it I am afraid! I have enjoyed reading about it here though, you have reached new heights, making offal interesting :)

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  7. It is odd how expensive it is. Like stew meat being the same price as steak and never going on sale.

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  8. Congrats on making chicken livers look... not like chicken livers. I think the meatballs look great, and totally blow away the typical 'liver and onions' dish, that we all grew in fear of growing up.

    Yeah and why are livers so expensive? Do the chickens in NZ not have livers?... mmm liverwurst.

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  9. i am lucky i am one of those few people that love livers and innards!! you did a magnificent dish on this liver!! i cant help but drool in front of my screen :-) yummy

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  10. Why hello there Laura dear!

    Gosh dang I have eaten liver once in my life, and that was part of a mixed grill my father ordered me one time we were out drinking....

    Anywho, it needs to be said that your version of liver looks a hellava lot more palatable than that I encounterded all those weeks ago.

    And knowing you, I'b believe it tasted fabtasticalicious!!

    See you tonight :)

    Scotty ("the fabulous doctor friend") Lol

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  11. I still haven't worked up the nerve to try liver... That pasta looks good though.

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  12. Hi there again,
    Have tried again several times to vote for your site, with about as much success as my ability to make beetroot chips. Looks like I might have to get techno-Nana on to it for me.

    Have just heard that the weather in Wellington is going to be cold and atrocious this weekend - a good excuse for comfort-food cooking. Hope the weather has cleared up by this time next weekend.

    You have certainly de-LIVER-ed on the liver recipes.... They look offally good. If you wanted to make a musical (a la Rent) about it your offal experience you could call it....... "O-liver" OK...enough! Although, your theme song could be Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias singing, "To all the GRILLS I've loved before...." Or, Paul McCartney and Wings, "To LIVER and let die", from the James Bond movie.... and, Mark says, it sounds like you have made the mother "offal"pates. (Darn, can't do an acute e on this 'puter.

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  13. Elle: Thank you! And yes, the mash was fabulous. I *did* love the book but I can see how it wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea.
    Christie: Having it with caramelised onions sounds so good!
    Marc: Take the plunge.
    Jilly:Seems like they're not as unpopular as I thought! :)
    Mum: Indeed! Not sure how i feel about tripe...something about the name...
    Linda: It's worth a try, esp in meatballs - not so scary for the kids LOL.
    Rachel: Yes, that is so true! :)
    Adam: Hee thanks. I'm more of a bratwurst gal myself.
    Dhanggit: Thankyou, and thanks for stopping by :) :)
    Scotty: HELLOO! Nice to see you as it were! :):):)
    Kevin: It does take a bit of getting used to, I'll admit :)
    Mum: Hi again lol. You know I love a good pun, or a bad one. Sorry bout the voting fandangle!

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  14. i absolutely love liver! i was surprised to see that it costs alot where you live, but here in NYC, i can buy about 5 livers for about $1.50! so cheap!

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