Last night we had filet mignon (thank you Skippy)
not a bad glamour shot 'eh Skip?
(Skippy is was ((sorry is this morbid or offensive to vegetarians!?)) one of our grass-fed "ambiance" cows)
continuing... over celeriac-kohlrabi purée, drizzled with shallot & balsamic reduction, aside roasted rutabega and seared savoy cabbage with vinho verde reduction and fresh rosemary. All from the garden of course (sometimes I forget to remember to clarify that nearly everything we eat around here comes from here ((no I don't have any sugarcane... and we don't make our own whiskey...yet... but maple trees' elixir is more delicious than tropical sugarcane anyway)).
This post is NOT about that dinner. Or sugar. Or whiskey. We will talk more about Skippy next time...
And okay, "love" is a strong word to place beside "liver"...
I try to reserve it for him
(he entertains my "eclectic" ideas with enthusiasm...)
(and ganoshes everything I make, with enthusiasm)
I'm not just throwing out that whole love disclaimer because I am referring to liver, quite possibly the food item with the worst connotation of all (beige and non-beige) food items in history.
You know, while we're on the subject I do think the l-o-v-e word gets WAY overused. That is a whole different subject but in short, my personal belief is that it gets thrown around way too loosely. I used to say it all the time: "oh I 'love' summertime, oh I 'love' cheese that smells like feet, oh I 'love' Eddie Vedder, oh I 'love' yada yada yada. I even "loved" Phish. I personally had no idea how drastically overused it was until I found out what L-O-V-E really was, when I met my soulmate –
Oh yeah I had it all figured out at the ripe old age of 14... Just call me Doogie Howser.
or rather – 14 years later, when WHAM, that whole "soulmate" word acquired the status of reality...
BUT wait, how did I get here, what is the link between soulmates and liver? I'll tell you one thing, this me off-on-a-tangent-again business can probably be attributed to the fact that I did not eat my paté for brekkie... If I had, I would've gotten enough vitamin B12 to combat any trace of that pesky old attention deficit disorder... In all seriousness, in my research I have come across dozens of claims that liver is gram-for-gram the world's healthiest food. How can that be I wondered, isn't one's liver the "oil filter" of the body ie: filtering the toxins from the environment... Well, provided you have an organic source of liver:
(this creature didn't have a name or a personality, for those of you who were offended by the "Skippy" bit)
These guys lived (for nine weeks) here at Bliss Ridge. I think it was a pretty good run (we'll cover the slaughter experience another time). They ate grass and bugs and organic Vermont grain. They didn't drink. Not even occasionally. For this reason I found it necessary to add whiskey to the paté.
Anyway, now that I've waxed on about the health benefits of liver you are still wondering how in pray-tell am I going to ratify my simultaneous devotion to deliciousness, allergy to beige and dedication to this unfortunate looking condiment.
Especially given my early history...
Liver and I did not get off to a favorable start. It was actually a rather tragic beginning, and precisely the moment when I learned to shut off my taste buds without actually holding my nose closed with my fingers. I was 15 years old and in France for the first time. I was seated between two men with impressive moustaches. People still had big hair in 1996. It was a tight squeeze at the table and I remember the strong scent of cologne, mixed with salty air. We were in St. Tropez and I thought I "loved" Rosé. I even "loved" frog's legs. Everything was going rather well; I was understanding the conversation with my ambitious ear and nominal language skills... when all of the sudden the corners of the moustache on my left skyrocketed. The paté course had arrived and the mood had dramatically escalated in the direction of sheer glee. An entire course devoted to a sickly looking beige square, featuring an artful attempt at concealment by a lofty stack of haricots-verts. Not only is the color of liver and all things liver-centric, unfortunate, but the flavor, when un-enhanced, has unmistakeable dirt undertones. Yes, of course I've tasted dirt. I do this on a regular basis
Previous to that memorable dinner I had been under the impression that the majority of people regarded "livah" with less enthusiasm than say shoveling sh*t (that is another chapter entirely but we'll get to it). I was clearly wrong. And caught smack in the middle of a fervent liver-scarfing frenzy. I muscled right into the pasty slice of beige with gusto.
What a bad choice. I should've pretended I was allergic or vegetarian. (Ha, I doubt there is such a thing as a French vegetarian, or there certainly wasn't in 1996 anyway.) It was beyond horrendous but I was so petrified at the notion of being rude or classified as "Americaine", that I choked the entire putrid slice down. When in Rome... or rather, "when amongst maniacal moustached paté devotees..."
(this photo was actually taken at a later moustache-centric meets broken french skills moment in life; not however involving fervent paté consumption)
I did not eat paté for approximately 14 years following that one Tropezienne future-altering dinner.
Now, after transforming into a liver evangelist, I can attribute many positive life incidences to this miraculous beige paste. It makes you smart and full of energy and you too will find out what that l-o-v-e word really means, if you eat my paté*
*this statement is based on a personal incidence and has not been evaluated by the USDA
Organic Chicken Liver Paté that changes haters
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
3 cups (loosely packed) leeks or onions or shallots (or a combination of any of those)
4 large cloves garlic
1.5 lbs organic chicken livers
2/3 cup decent red wine
1 cup fresh sage leaves
1 cup fresh parsley
1 tbsp juniper berries
1/2 tsp allspice
2tbsp pink peppercorns
2 tbsp black peppercorns
2 tbsp green peppercorns (either dry or in brine) *note; if you are scared of spice, start with less pepper and add more to taste at the end
fresh thyme (a few sprigs-worth)
2 tbsp whiskey!
2 tbsp salt (or to taste! I added more at the end)
1. Melt stick of butter in a large saucepan or skillet at medium-low heat.
2. Slice onions, leeks, shallots roughly, along with the garlic (remember it is all getting puréed, yes I know, there is nothing UN-weird about a meat purée but trust me on this one) and throw it all (3 cups alliums + 4 cloves garlic, in with the butter.
3. After the onions are translucent and the kitchen smells delicious, crush the (1tbsp) juniper berries & all three colors of peppercorns (scant 6 tbsp total) a little (with mortar & pestle or you can put them all in a coffee grinder together and buzz until you have a coarse grind (a few seconds). Throw them in the pan.
4. Add the 1.5 lbs livers, 1/2 tsp allspice and 2 tbsp salt and toss everything around. Sizzle sizzle.
I attempted to disguise the weird rubbery shiny gelatinous matter that is liver...
5. Cook this mixture for about three minutes, tossing very often.
6. Add the wine. Toss and simmer on medium heat for about five more minutes. The liquid should reduce a bit. The livers will morph into an even uglier color. Ideally, you want them to be atrocious beige on the outside and atrocious pale pink on the inside, so slice into one to test.
7. Once you have achieved that killer color-combo, stir in 2 tbsp of whiskey (scotch or bourbon or Irish whiskey = all are fabulous) and turn off the heat. Stir and let the mixture cool for about 15 minutes. You should have very little liquid at this point. If you have more than approximately 2 tbsp, transfer the solids to the food-processor with a slotted spoon and reduce the liquid down to a tablespoon or two-ish by boiling over med-high heat.
8. Turn the food processor on and add the 1 cup of fresh sage, 1 cup of fresh parsley and the thyme, (and the reduced liquid from the pan) and process for a long time.. ie: at least five minutes...you want this stuff really smooth. Taste it and add salt accordingly. If it seems ultra smooth and you like the flavors, transfer to ramekins or jars, cover and refrigerate. If it isn't smooth enough yet, you can process for longer and/or add some more melted butter. Most patés have about twice the amount of butter as mine. I realllllly realllly like butter don't get me wrong, but when I was developing the recipe we happened to only have one stick at the house and it worked fabulously with the above ratios.
I want to hear about your liver-loving transformations so holler at me!! xoJvT