Come winter time in the Midwest, if you don’t have a cold-frame or green house, your gardening for the year is about over for the season. I inventory my bottles of wild garlic vinegar, pickled beets, frozen Salsa Verde, and flavored spices to decide what I’ll be cooking for friends this winter. The onset of winter also made for perfect butchering weather. After fattening animals all summer, farmers harvested their charges.
Preparing For A Feast
The age-old preservation processes of curing the prime cuts, brining and smoking hams, and making sausages have always been celebratory times in every culture. But what about the remaining parts of the animal? They’re know as the offal- the organ meats, the parts that weren’t meat or bone. Everything but the oink.
The Organ… A Delicacy?
For many folks, offal just sounds awful. But in Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa, Australia and the Middle East, offal is not only accepted – it’s prized. The Brits are in love with the stuff, too. They even serve their eggs with blood pudding for breakfast. Working in France and Belgium, I learned the tricks of the trade about offal. Working for Sir Terence Conran opened a window to a storm of new recipes, from steak and kidney pie to Scottish haggis.
The Holiday Offal
The holidays are a perfect time to serve offal in French preparations such as chicken, foie gras en torchon, game terrines, and other festive Euro-centric plates. If you are a bit intimidated, try making Hors d’oeuvres. These little bites of pre-dinner joy show bounty during the holidays without making them a true “course” that non-believers have to struggle through. Then, as you gather a congregation of devoted offal disciples, you can practice with more dedication during the holiday season.
Chicken Liver Crostinis with Rosemary and Garlic
A great “starter” offal snack to serve before dinner with cocktails, sherry or white wine.
Chicken Liver Crostinis With Rosemary And Garlic
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large sprig rosemary, leaves removed from stem
- 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
- 3 cloves garlic very thinly sliced (so they may be fried for garlic “chips”)
- 1/2 cup finely minced red onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon New Regime Spice Blend or Chinese 5 Spice Powder
- 8 ounces (about 1 cup) chicken livers, cut into small pieces
- 1/4 cup Madeira
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley
- 12 baguette slices, toasted
- Line a plate with paper towels for draining rosemary and garlic chips and set aside.
- Heat oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add rosemary leaves; sauté until crisp, about 30 seconds. Using slotted spoon, transfer sautéed rosemary to paper towels.
- Quickly add garlic slices and cook until just golden and crisp. Do not over-cook or they may become bitter. Add to plate with rosemary.
- Quickly add red onion to same skillet; sauté until golden, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle in the salt, pepper and spice powder. Add the minced garlic, liver, and 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary. Cook until liver starts to color then turn. Continue cooking and turning until all sides are lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
- Deglaze with Madeira, and cook until wine has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add chopped parsley and toss. Taste and season as needed.
- Spoon onto toasted baguette slices and sprinkle with crispy garlic and rosemary to garnish.
This recipe uses the New Regime Spice Blend.