Thursday, 3 February 2011

Two for the price of one: Chicken livers and a root vegetable stove-top bake

I’ve been meaning to pass on this incredible recipe for chicken livers for about two weeks, but have failed to organise my time and MCD Jr efficiently enough to get it done. And then last night I made the most amazing vegetable cheesey bake thing and desperately wanted to share that too, so you get a double-whammy. Just don’t expect it too often.

For the chicken livers, clean and cut them in half if they’re on the large side. Sizzle some butter in a frying pan and toss in the livers. Cook for a couple of minutes until the underside is starting to caramelise then turn each liver over.

While they’re cooking, slice some chicory however you want, but thin strands seem most pleasing and when you turn the livers over, add the chicory. The whole point about chicken livers is that they are gorgeous if you manage to get them pink and moussey, and utterly disgusting if you over-cook them so feel free to slice into one or two to check their done-ness at any point. When they’re cooked to your liking, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pan. Add a tbsp or so of grain mustard, a tsp or so of honey, a squeeze of lemon and a dollop of crème fraiche or cream – enough to make a sauce. Warm it through then check the seasoning and add a small handful of chopped parsley if you’ve got any. Add the livers back in to warm through then tip onto toast.

Ok – the veg bake: Finely slice an onion and fry gently in butter with some garlic in a deep-sided frying pan. Ideally you want the onion golden and silky. Then finely slice – as thinly as you can – half a peeled celeriac (mine was enormous so I only needed half for the two of us) and a couple of peeled potatoes. If you’ve got a mandoline so much the better.

Now you can either pile all the veg slices into the pan and mix thoroughly with the butter and onions; or you can carefully remove the onions with a slotted spoon and layer alternately celeriac, onions and potato. It doesn’t much matter but the latter makes for more even cooking and a more refined end result. Both taste delicious. Pour over just enough chicken or vegetable stock to cover and half-cover with a lid. Leave to cook gently for about 20-30 minutes depending on how thinly you sliced the vegetables. Test with the point of a knife: ideally the stock should have all but evaporated leaving only sticky juices and the vegetables meltingly tender.

Now, this is the good point. Thinly slice any cheese you fancy, as long as it’s a good melting cheese. I used Taleggio but I have used mozzarella in the past as well as Reblochon and Gruyere with equally good results. Place the cheese slices on the bake, pop the lid back on and leave off the heat for a few minutes while you cook – in this instance – some lamb chops to go with. You might want to drizzle said chops with a little balsamic for extra savour. Serve pink and rosy – both you and the meat – with socking great spoonfuls of the bake. If you’re lucky, there may be some left for tomorrow.

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