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Our farmer neighbor paid us for grazing privileges last week. For allowing him to put a couple of young steers in our pasture, so we don't have to mow it, he pays us. Not a bad deal!
He pays us in chicken. (It's a much more stable currency than the dollar.)
The chicken takes some adjusting to: It's a bit bloody (being freshly butchered), still has more than a few pin feathers and it's skin is tough and leathery looking. I can't imagine it getting brown, crispy and nibble-worthy.
It has rather long, thick-boned legs and big wings, as it was close to a year old when it ceased clucking.
And it's bright yellow, not the supermarket creamy white.
Because of it's age it needs long, slow cooking. Cooked on the barbecue it's a tough, chewy, barely edible old bird. Made into Coq au Vin, or Poulet au Vinaigre that simmers for a few hours, it becomes tender, falling off the bone (large bones) and full of flavor not found in the cellophane chickens.
And it comes with innards.
Sophie knows me well enough that she cleans it; and keeps the head and feet for her own use; but I get the liver.
Mon mari is not particularly fond of fish. As fate would have it, the chicken was dropped off on Friday, the day I normally do the shopping – which involves a visit to the fish market.
Never one to miss an opportunity, mon mari suggested we forego the lovely fish in lieu of the chicken livers. Yes, my friends, given the chance, mon mari chose chicken liver for dinner over a lovely seared salmon.
Who am I to argue?
I've posted this recipe before…but it is sooooo good, this is a better photo, and now I have the opportunity to get it on the record for posterity: in Presto Pasta Nights.
Presto Pasta Nights was created almost a year ago by the lovely and talented Ruth of Once Upon A Feast.
In all that time I don't recall seeing one liver and pasta dish!
Well my friends, that's about to change!
Foie Gras aside (that's trendy, controversial and expensive, therefore desirable) I think, in general, the consumption of offal is determined in childhood. If you didn't grow up with it, it can be a challenge to start enjoying is as an adult.
I grew up with liver and I love it. I will, somewhat reluctantly, eat sweetbreads but I still can't bring myself to eat tongue or brains.
A nostalgic moment here: In a memorable episode of "All in the Family", Michael is eating a tongue sandwich. Archie is appalled. Expostulating in his usual style, he demands to know how Michael can eat 'that'. Didn't he know what it was? Didn't he know where it had BEEN???? (In a cow's mouth.)
Pasta with Chicken Livers, Bacon and Sage
Loosely based on a recipe from an old Williams Sonoma book.
10 oz (300gr) chicken livers
4 oz (125gr) smoked bacon, 4 – 5 slices
4 – 6 shallots, about 8oz (250gr)
15 – 20 fresh or frozen sage leaves
substitute 2 tbs dried
2 tbs olive oil
8 oz (250gr) fresh tagliatelle
Cook pasta according to package instructions. Slice shallots. Snip or cut sage leaves in half or quarters. Trim chicken livers if needed and cut in half.
Sauté bacon in a large nonstick skillet until brown and crisp. Remove, tear into pieces and set aside. If there is a lot of fat, remove all but 1 tbs. Add shallots to skillet and sauté until tender and starting to brown. Remove and add to bacon. Add olive oil to skillet. Turn heat up to medium-high, add sage and livers to pan. Sauté 5 – 8 minutes, livers should still be pink in the center. You may have to do the liver in batches so as not to crowd the pan. Return all liver, shallots and bacon to the pan and heat through. Add the cooked, drained pasta and toss in the skillet, with a tbs or 2 of water to help get the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Put onto a platter and serve.
Now, are you thinking that this is, perhaps, not the healthiest dish in my kitchen?
Well, I could eliminate the bacon and add another tbs of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt to make it more heart-healthy.
But, the liver is good for us. It has more nutrients per gram than any other food!
The biggest risk of eating liver is getting too much vitamin A. But, unless you are eating vast quantities 4 or 5 times per week and taking supplements, your risk of vitamin A toxicity is almost non-existent.
As to it being full of toxins: the liver's purpose is to remove them from the body but it doesn't store them. Liver from a healthy animal is, well, healthy!
As to the cholesterol – it's no better or worse than eggs or shrimp.
All things in moderation…now, eat your liver! It's good for you!