I sent myself to Bordeaux on a mission: to gather recipes and photographs for my next book, video clips for my upcoming online cooking courses (wish me luck), and to remind myself that France was, in fact, still there. How? By reconnecting with my friends there who have become like family to me. I came back inspired and overwhelmed with beautiful material, and with some insights on weight/fat loss (what!?), while having worked on delicious recipes for organ meats (les abats), and a fig tart (video here)…..read the newsletter here.
CHICKEN LIVER DIP – Sauce aux Foies de Volaille
This recipe is from the book and was also published, along with the photo above, in the EPIC Impact Journal 2018. I though I would share the recipe and photo from the book (below), as a way of posting recipes again, now that The Bordeaux Kitchen book is almost ONE YEAR OLD! As we head into summer, this versatile recipe will be a great way to introduce friends and family to organ meats!
I learned this recipe from my good friend and Bordeaux University wine course buddy, Malika Faytout, an organic winemaker in the Bordeaux region of Castillon. She says she still remembers me telling her that first day of class when we met that I was writing a book called The Bordeaux Kitchen, an ancestral French cookbook with a wine chapter and food and wine pairings.
We sat next to each other in the first row throughout the academic year, and she ended up being the top student in our class of about 45 students. Luckily, some of her smarts rubbed off on me, and I was able to pass the course, too. Malika had decided to take the wine course to be able to play a more central role in her family’s organic vineyard, Château Lescaneaut, in the Castillon – Côtes de Bordeaux appellation, next to St. Emilion, both of which produce fruity, bold Merlot-based wines, and, as it turns out, a delicious accompaniment to the liver dip!
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 12 to 15 minutes
This chicken liver dip recipe is versatile in that you can eat it warmed, room temperature, or chilled, with a variety of raw vegetables, such as a type of romaine leaf (“Paris Island” heirloom variety), as we did, or with endives or on top of lettuce, and with a thicker or thinner consistency. This is a delicious way to eat nutrient-dense chicken livers. This recipe can be halved or doubled, depending on your needs. It can be served as a party dip, an appetizer, or as a meal. When Malika and I made this recipe together, it was spring, so we used local spring garlic-onions (oignon aillé). In the photo here I used the sheath of a green onion. A scallion or peeled clove of garlic may be used instead of green onion.
2 tablespoons bacon fat (or duck fat)
15 whole chicken livers (12.5 ounces or 350 g)
1 tablespoon spring onion or garlic, minced
4 pinches of fine sea salt
1/3 cup water
3 teaspoons mustard
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Fine salt and ground pepper to taste
Fleur de sel for garnish
Melt the fat in a medium or large cast iron skillet over medium-high to high heat. Add the chicken livers, green onion (or garlic), and salt. [A reminder that a pinch (une pincée) is using three fingers. For fine salt, fleur de sel, pepper, and spices this turns out to be slightly less than 1/8 teaspoon. For coarser grains of sea salt, it might be slightly more.] Allow the livers to stick a bit to the pan, letting them caramelize a bit, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, stirring occasionally for an additional 7 to 10 minutes, until the livers are cooked through.
Remove the livers, allowing them to cool in a bowl for several minutes. Deglaze the pan with1/3 cup water to loosen the caramelized material stuck to the pan, and add this liquid to the bowl of livers.
Mix the livers in a food processor, in batches if needed, adding the mustard, vinegar, and olive oil, until you reach the desired consistency. (This step should take about 30 seconds.) To increase the liquid consistency of the sauce, add a bit more water and/or olive oil. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Top with fleur de sel for garnish. Fleur de sel is often used as a finishing touch, a chef’s secret topping to a savory dish or dessert. The fine, white cubes are pleasing to the eye and delicate on the tongue, and add a subtle crunch.
Serve while still warm, chilled, or at room temperature with romaine or endive leaves, with carrot or celery sticks, homemade beet or sweet potato chips. I prefer eating the dip warmed or at room temperature.
WINE PAIRING TIP Malika’s family and I had their house wine, a flavorful 2012 Château Lescaneaut from the Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux appellation. Another classmate of ours, sommelière Annabelle Nicolle-Beaufils, alternately suggests a dry white Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Sec, from an area located between Bordeaux and the Pyrénées foothills of Pau more known for its sweet wines, which are also worth a try. Otherwise Annabelle proposes either an effervescent white Muscat from Languedoc-Roussillon or a Champagne. More such wine pairings are suggested in The Bordeaux Kitchen book.
Ris de Veau Panés
This recipe can be used for both Veal or Lamb Sweetbreads. The photos in this post depict Veal Sweetbreads. The flour used in this recipe is organic chestnut flour, locally-sourced, Paleo-approved!
Prep Time: 35 minutes (plus up to one hour if you wish to soak the sweetbreads first in water)
Cook Time: 10-15 minutes
Total Time: 45-50 minutes
Description: Sweetbreads are the thymus gland of the animal. They have a light texture, like very tender meat and are not chewy. In France, they are a delicacy, as they have a very subtle flavor and are nutrient dense. They are also rare and therefore expensive, as there is only one pair of thymus glands per animal. This recipe can be used for veal or lamb sweetbreads. This can be served either as an appetizer or a main course.
La Pintade Farcie
The Pintade is a wild breed of bird (un oiseau sauvage) which began to be imported into France in the 1900s and has since become domesticated and raised in France and other countries. The taste is more pronounced than chicken. It also dries quickly when being cooked, therefore it is usually tied up to retain not only the stuffed contents but also the juices. The fat in the stuffing also helps keep the bird juicy.
Cervelles d’Agneau Pochées
Serves 1 per person
I can say that it was a little hard to swallow the first bite or two, as the smell was subtle but new to me, and the texture a bit mushy. To my co-chef and former neighbor, Rebecca Pinsolle, the scent takes her back to her days visiting her grandmother. This is the same effect that smooth pork liverwurst has on me, it transports me to my childhood when I would smear that liverwurst on dark German bread for my breakfast. I am truly grateful for that small indoctrination into “strange” foods, as I think it has helped me to be able to enjoy other foods like chicken livers paté or just plain old liver. And foie gras, of course.
Tartare du Coeur de Veau
Chef’s Tip: The Secret to a “Bon Tartare” is finely chopped ingredients! Also, have little containers at the ready for each ingredient to keep yourself organized, along with one recipient for “garbage.” Also, mind your butcher and get the freshest meat possible!