A quick Italian dish with a seasonal twist
This quick, cheaty dish is a winner. It comes, unsurprisingly, from the Italian region of Tuscany. Chicken livers are strong in flavour, so you need plenty of garlic to stand up to them. Only use very fresh, healthy-looking chicken livers for this—or any other dish for that matter. You can prepare this recipe in advance if you like, but not too far ahead: it is best eaten warm and is never the same once it’s been in the fridge. It’s traditionally served with dressed tomatoes, but the dates feel more seasonally appropriate—tomatoes in December just seems wrong.
8 good dates
A few nice capers
4 garlic cloves, peeled
A glug of very good extra virgin olive oil
A few basil leaves, torn
12 chicken livers, cut in half, trimmed and cleaned
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A knob of butter
A glug of marsala wine (or medium sherry, such as a good solera)
A few slices of good sourdough bread
Cut the dates into small pieces. Chop and add the capers. Place them in a bowl and season with pepper. Peel and finely slice one of the garlic cloves and add to the dates with a glug of very good olive oil and some torn basil. Set aside to macerate.
Place a non-stick pan, large enough to hold all the livers, over a medium heat. Season the livers well with salt and pepper. When the pan is hot, add a little butter, then add the livers and cook for 1 min or so but don’t move them about. Now turn all the livers over and add a little more butter, if needed, along with 2 finely chopped garlic cloves.
Add the marsala (carefully, as it may ignite). Cook over a high heat until the liquid has mostly evaporated and then turn off the heat. The whole cooking process won’t take more than a few mins. Be sure not to overcook the livers or they will be a bit dry. Allow to cool a little, then break up the livers with the back of a fork or pop them in a blender and pulse to a coarse texture.
Toast your bread, then rub the surface with the remaining halved garlic clove. Spread the livers on the warm toast and spoon on the dates. Finish with more freshly torn basil and a little fresh chilli, if you like.
Recipe: Tim Maddams