I love this recipe for many reasons: it’s absolutely delicious, quick to make, can (or rather should) be prepared in advance, and, well, it’s liver. I find all sorts of excuses to make it. Tomorrow it will be lunch in the country; it’s been good for parties or Easter brunch; but more simply it is the recipe upon which I fall back when we have friends for dinner and I am undecided about what to make. It helps unlock my imagination and inspires the rest of the meal. Most often I serve it with baguette as a tapas-style apéritif together with olives and nuts, radishes or cherry tomatoes – depending on the season.
1 lb (450 g) chicken livers
3/4 cup (180 g) and 2 Tbsp (20 g) butter
1 small onion (or large shallot)
1 large sprig each sage and thyme
1 Tbsp Madeira wine (Marsala also works well)*
1 Tbsp brandy
Salt and pepper
Trim fat from chicken livers and set aside.
In a small saucepan melt 3/4 cup butter over low heat. Once melted set aside.
Finely chop onion (or shallot). In a large skillet melt 2 Tbsp butter together with a little olive oil (the oil prevents the butter from burning). Add chopped onion, cook over medium heat, and as soon as it becomes translucent add whole sage and thyme and stir to mix flavors. Immediately increase heat to high and add chicken livers. After a couple of minutes the livers should be slightly brown, turn them over. Sprinkle Marsala and brandy over the livers and cook for a few minutes until the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
When the livers are cool enough to handle, remove sage and thyme, transfer to cutting board, and chop finely. Place livers in bowl, add scrapings from skillet as well as the melted butter and mix well. Transfer livers to a terrine dish (any bowl will do) and place in refrigerator for a few hours and up to two days. It gets better after a day or so.
*The absence of Madeira or Marsala absolutely should not keep you from making this recipe. Just replace with a little brandy. On the other hand, it creates an opportunity to buy the wines, which deserve to be kept in your bar or pantry and will come in handy, for example when making stewed pears (recipe to come later this year).