Monday, September 26, 2011

Fun with Chicken Liver

When I was perusing the chicken section of the local supermarket, I couldn't help but notice that a pound of chicken livers cost a measly $1.89. Because chicken livers are so rich, that $1.89 could go a long way, so I put a tub into the cart. Once I got home, I put them in the fridge and wondered what I could do with them other than making a paté. Then I noticed that I also had a carton of ricotta cheese in there. Doesn't chicken liver and ricotta sound like a good ravioli filling? I thought so, but wasn't about to go through the rigamarole of making ravioli. Instead, I thought I'd make crespelle, or crepes, roll them around a chicken liver filling, and bake them with a coating of cheese.

Don't let the idea of making crepes scare you - they are really pretty foolproof if you use a recipe that calls for enough eggs. The egg makes them elastic, you see, and not all that prone to tearing. And the egginess makes the flavor and texture an awful lot like pasta, but with much less effort.

The combination of chicken livers + ricotta + lemon is delicious - rich, yet somehow light at the same time. Because the livers and crepes are both on the soft side, I added a couple of spoonfuls of toasted walnut pieces to the filling, to add some much-needed crunch. These would make a fantastic appetizer (one per person) or an interesting savory accompaniment to a hearty bowl of curried pumpkin soup. In fact, curry in the liver mixture (minus the lemon) and some thinly sliced apples would be another pretty delicious crepe filling.

Chicken Liver Crepes

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup diced onion
salt
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 lb chicken livers, rinsed and patted dry
1/4 cup mirin
2 ounces full- or low-fat ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
3 scallions, finely minced
2 heaping tablespoons of chopped toasted walnuts
salt and pepper to taste
crespelle (recipe follows)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
grated lemon zest for garnish

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When butter has melted, add onion, and a pinch of salt. Cook until the onion is translucent, stirring occasionally. Add spices and garlic and cook an additional minute. Add chicken livers and cook for about 2 minutes per side. Pour in mirin and stir to loosen any brown bits that may be stuck to the pan. Cook an additional minute or two, then remove from heat.

Allow livers to cool for about 10 minutes. Place about 2/3 of the livers in a food processor and purée, if necessary, adding dribbles of heavy cream or half and half to facilitate blending. Chop remaining 1/3 of chicken livers by hand and add to puree along with ricotta cheese, honey, lemon zest, scallions, and walnuts. Mix well, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble:
Schmear a heaping teaspoonful of chicken liver on half of each crepe. Fold in half to cover liver, and then in half again, so the filled crepe is triangular. Fill remaining crepes. (Refrigerate any leftover chicken liver purée. Eat as a snack on fresh crusty bread.)

Preheat broiler. Place crepes on a cookie sheet, overlapping slightly or not at all. Broil crepes for 3-4 minutes, until edges brown. Remove from oven, flip crepes, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and return to oven for another 2-3 minutes.

Garnish with additional lemon zest.

Crespelle (Italian Crepes)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
5 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt

Put flour in a large mixing bowl and slowly drizzle with milk, stirring constantly to avoid making lumps. Add eggs one at a time beating with a fork until a thin batter is formed. Add salt and let stand 20 minutes. Spray non-stick skillet or pancake griddle with cooking spray and heat pan over medium heat until hot (but not smoking). Add 3 or so tablespoons of batter to the pan, spreading it quickly with the back of a spoon or ladle to make a round about 6" in diameter. Cook until crespelle is set (top will look dry), about 30 seconds. Remove from pan and place on place. Cover with a sheet of waxed paper. Stack subsequent crespelle in the same manner. Repeat until batter is gone.

Cover plate with plastic wrap and store in fridge until ready to use.

Posted by theminx on Minxeats.com.