I suspect a majority of you just had an involuntary shudder at the thought of eating chicken livers sauteed whole and still just slightly pink inside. Not to worry, I was one with you until yesterday. My mother used to cook chicken liver adobo every once in a while and it was nothing short of REVOLTING. The livers were hard and seriously overcooked, and felt like small pieces of chewy rubber. Being told they were rich in iron did not help one bit. When you actually put the liver your mouth and chewed, it was grainy, sandy and sucked up liquid — or so it seemed to me at the time. I have hated cooked whole chicken livers ever since. I have tried to get over food biases and childhood food quirks like this while maintaining this blog, so I decided to revisit sauteed chicken livers when the time was right.
Finding organic chicken livers from Pamora farms signaled the “time was right.” I first made two beautiful batches of chicken liver patÃ© (posts on that up soon) which was a nice way to take the livers on in a form I always did like… as a relatively smooth spread. Pamora has superb chickens, and by extension, I presumed they would have wonderful livers. The next trigger occurred when while lazing on a couch in front of the television, I saw an episode of Kylie Kwong cooking and she made this easy and delicious sounding recipe for sauteed organic chicken livers with brandy and butter and served with a salad to cut the richness of the meat. Within 24 hours, I was serving the livers to brilliant reviews from four guests that we had over for dinner. They liked it so much they wiped out the large platter of livers, and used slices of baguette to mop up all the sauce in the serving platter! :)
So here is the simple recipe of Kylie Kwong. I will warn you not to use a non-stick pan when cooking this. The sugar nearly did not caramelize properly and when I added the tablespoon of water, I had fireworks on the stovetop. It looked much less dramatic, or should I say painful, in her television show. Also, she did not, but I did, soak the cleaned and trimmed livers in milk for an hour before proceeding with the recipe. The milk bath removes impurities from the livers. Just drain well on paper towels before going on with the recipe. When cooking livers, DO NOT OVERCOOK or they will get tough. Slightly pink in the center is ideal.
As a salad topping, I didn’t have the watercress that Ms. Kwong called for, but I did have FABULOUS wild arugula from Gejo over at Kitchen Herbs Farm as well as brilliant radishes. I loved the way the bracingly acidic lemon dressing on the greens worked with the tender livers and incredibly flavorful sauce. Served with lots and lots of slices of toasted baguette, this was a REAL DISCOVERY and a WONDERFUL TREAT. It had the elegance and depth of flavor of a fancy appetizer, but it was definitely quick, easy and economical to boot. Definitely going to do this again soon. See, chicken liver phobia deleted. :)