I’m not sure why I’m such a fan of liver and liver-related products (such as foie gras). There’s just such a wonderful creaminess to it along with a lovely, round flavour. To that end, I came across a recipe for a pasta sauce involving chicken livers in Hazan’s The Classic Italian Cook Book and set out to acquire the necessary ingredients, which, along with the liver, also included ground beef and vermouth. I wasn’t sure exactly what the end result would quite taste like, but we’re always excited to try!
adapted from The Classic Italian Cook Book
1/4 lb chicken livers
1 tbsp chopped onion
1-1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1/8 tsp chopped garlic
1-1/2 tbsp diced pancetta
3/4 tsp chopped sage
1/8 lb ground lean beef
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp tomato paste dissolved in 1/8 cup dry white vermouth
Clean chicken livers and cut them up into 3 or 4 pieces, drying them thoroughly on paper towels. Put onions in a small saucepan with oil and butter, and sauté lightly over medium heat until translucent. Add garlic, stir a few times, then add pancetta and sage. Sauté for half a minute and stir. Then add ground meat, crumbling it with a fork, and cook until it’s completely lost its raw red colour. Add salt and pepper and turn up heat to medium-high. Add chicken livers and cook until they’ve lost their raw colour. Add tomato paste-vermouth mixture, stir well, and cook for 8-10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. When sauce is nearly done, drop pasta into boiling water and boil until tender but al dente.
A few notes on preparation: We were a bit concerned that the sauce wasn’t “saucy” enough, so D added a 1/4 cup meat broth and another tablespoon of tomato paste. The original recipe actually calls for papardelle pasta, which we couldn’t find, so we substituted in fettuccine.
The verdict? Seriously delicious. David declared that he has a new favourite cook book. I wouldn’t have thought the combination of chicken liver and ground beef, but it makes for a wonderfully, almost creamy meat sauce. It was rich and earthy, with great flavour. And, in the end, surprisingly quick to make.