Recipe: Chicken livers with thyme, garlic & leeks
Sick of chicken, beef, pork and lamb as your staple proteins? It might be time to diversify your meat consumption portfolio and try something more adventurous like offal (aka internal organs). It might sound gross to some but, in fact, foods like liver and sweetbreads are considered gourmet delights by many chefs and connoisseurs. They are also very affordable, highly nutritious and sustainable as you pay homage to the whole animal rather than see those gorgeous parts going to waste.
Chicken liver is particularly tasty and easy to find in most supermarkets and butcheries. It’s very high in vitamin A (pregnant women should consume in smaller amounts), B vitamins (it’s like getting a vitamin B12 shot), iron and lots of essential minerals. My mum often made chicken livers sautéed with butter and onions and I have fond memories of eating it when I was a child. Chicken livers have a very distinct, strong flavour and they go amazingly well with fragrant ingredients such as garlic, onion, herbs and a little bit of sweetness and acidity. Serve this dish with a side of green vegetables like broccoli or simple sautéed cabbage or cauliflower rice that can soak up all the juices.
Cook’s notes: You can buy chicken livers from the butchers or in packs from supermarkets. Sometimes they will still have the fat and sinew attached. You can ask the butcher to remove those or you can easily do it yourself. A perfectly pan-fried chicken liver will be cooked all the way through but still pink (not raw) in the middle. You can toss it through salads, serve it with bacon or puree it with some butter and herbs into a spreadable pâté.
- 450gm chicken livers
- 1 leek, pale white and light green part sliced and washed
- 2 tbsp macadamia or virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp vino coto or sweet balsamic vinegar
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- 8-10 sprigs of thyme, tied together with a string (ok the string is optional but it keeps them together)
- A few extra sprigs of thyme for garnish
- 2 1/2 tbsp of ghee or butter (use ghee if dairy sensitive)
- 20ml dry cherry or port(2/3 of a shot glass)
- To prepare the chicken livers, remove any connective tissue from the meat, cut in halves, rinse and pat dry with paper towel or let it air dry. Leave it out to bring to room temperature to ensure even cooking. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
- Pan fry leek, sprinkled with a good pinch of salt and pepper, in macadamia oil on medium heat until softened and golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. Drizzle with sweet balsamic vinegar, mix and set aside.
- In a clean frying pan, heat ghee until hot and fry tied thyme sprigs and garlic until just slightly golden brown. Remove the garlic and thyme to prevent from burning but leave the infused ghee on high heat.
- Add chicken livers to the sizzling hot ghee and fry for 2 1/2 minutes on each side. What you’re after is crispy and browned on the outside, yet soft and velvety on the inside. If you overcook liver it goes sandy and tough. Finally, add dry cherry to deglaze the pan together with the liver (basically swirl it around on high heat so it bubbles away a little) and then add the leeks, garlic and thyme and turn off the heat. Season with a little more salt and pepper to your taste.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Number of servings: 2