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Chopped Chicken Liver Crostini

If you are lucky enough to have the liver included with your whole chicken, it is like the prize in the bottom of the box. You can use chicken livers to garnish terrines, enrich a sauce or as hors d’oeuvres. The texture of fresh livers is far superior to that of frozen, so do not be tempted to buy the latter. Ask your butcher to set aside any extra livers when fresh chickens arrive. If chicken livers are unavailable, duck livers make a delicious alternative for these crostini. Serve the crostini as part of an antipasto assortment or alongside a green salad.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. (450 g) chicken or duck livers, cleaned and trimmed
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup (140 g) diced pancetta or bacon
  • Olive oil for cooking, binding and brushing
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) minced shallot
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. chili flakes
  • 2 Tbs. dry Marsala
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh marjoram or oregano
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) salt-packed capers, rinsed, soaked in water to
      cover for 20 minutes, drained and chopped
  • 1 baguette

Directions:

Place the livers in a nonreactive bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and allow it to brown slowly, releasing its fat. When most of the fat has rendered, using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a plate and reserve.

There should be enough fat in the pan to coat the bottom evenly with a thin layer. If not, supplement with a splash of olive oil. Increase the heat slightly and add the livers in a single, uncrowded layer. Brown the livers, turning once, for about 1 1/2 minutes per side. They should be cooked through but still a touch pink in the middle. Transfer the livers to a cutting board to cool.

Pour about 2 Tbs. olive oil into the pan and reduce the heat slightly. Add the shallot and garlic and sauté until golden. Add the chili flakes, then deglaze the pan with the Marsala, dislodging any browned bits on the pan bottom with a wooden spoon. Scrape the contents of the pan into a bowl.

When the livers have cooled slightly, chop them coarsely with a chef’s knife, making several passes over them until they achieve a somewhat uniform consistency. Add the livers to the bowl with the shallot-garlic mixture. Then add the marjoram, thyme, capers and reserved pancetta. Stir in 1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil, or more, to taste.

Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C).

Cut the baguette on the diagonal into slices 1/2 inch (12 mm) thick. Arrange the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush the tops with olive oil. Toast the slices until golden and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Top each baguette slice with a generous spoonful of the chopped liver, arrange on a platter and serve. Serves 6.

Adapted from In the Charcuterie, by Taylor Boetticher & Toponia Miller (Ten Speed Press, 2013).