This is our perfect comfort food. Feeling tired? Long day? Feeling sad and just need a warm hug? Chicken livers cooked with sausage or bacon, caramelized onions, tomatoes and stock that gets velvety as it reduces. Spoon this over creamy polenta, find a quaint english mystery show on Netflix… and chill.
We make this with bacon or sausage, depending what we have on hand. You can leave out the salty fatty pork component if you would like, but why? You can use wine or beer, but its just as good without. If you like mushrooms, you can add mushrooms. Feel the need for some healthy greens? Chop up a little kale and add it to the mix. The polenta is simple, quite basic, I usually add a little grated parm to the polenta, but it’s really good with smoked cheddar. Use whatever cheese you have on hand, or leave the cheese out all together. If you are avoiding dairy you can sub olive oil for the butter and skip the cheese.
Make sure you start the polenta before you start the livers because the longer the cornmeal has to cook the better.
4 cups water
pinch of salt
1 cup cornmeal
2 tbsps butter
1/2 cup shredded parm, (or other cheese)
s+p to taste
- Put water in a heavy bottomed pot. Add salt, bring to a boil.
- Whisk the water to create a whirlpool, slowly pour in the cornmeal whisking the whole time. The mix should be the consistency of heavy cream. Don’t worry, it will thicken. Don’t keep adding cornmeal until it is thick, thats too much cornmeal.
- Bring cornmeal back to a boil and then turn down very low. Let simmer, stirring occasionally. If it gets too thick, add more water. If you have the patience, let this simmer for 45 minutes. The longer it cooks, the less gritty the cornmeal and the silkier the texture.
- Right before you serve, whisk in the butter, grated cheese and check the seasoning. You could also add chopped parsley, basil or other fresh herbs.
This is a great side dish for braised meats, chicken cacciatore or saucy sautéed vegetables. Try it with just a dollop of mascarpone and some chopped basil.
1/2 lb sausage or bacon
1 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, miced
pinch of chilies
1 lb chicken livers
1 cup flour (optional)
1/4 cup wine or beer, optional
2 cups chicken or beef stock
1 large tomato, diced
1/4 cup chopped green onions
s+p to taste
- if you are using sausage, I like to use a mild italian sausage. If you like a little more heat, by all means, use a spicy sausage. If you are using bacon, slice it thick and cut it into 1/2 inch strips (or lardons).
- sauteé onions and sausage in a large heavy skillet until sausage is brown. add garlic and chili flakes and sauté one minute longer
- dust the chicken livers with flour. (if you are trying to avoid gluten, you can use corn flour or my favourite, chick pea flour. or you can skip this step altogether. The flour just helps give the livers a nice brown crust and thickens the sauce a bit)
- push all the sausage and onions to one side of pan. Shake any excess flour off the livers and place in pan. Now ignore them, walk away, don’t mess with them. People often spend too much time fiddling with food. If you keep fussing with the livers they won’t brown properly, you will tear the meat and make a murky grey mess. Leave the livers alone until the one side is nice and crisp and well browned. Then flip them over.
- Add the wine or beer if you want, and reduce. Add the stock and reduce until sauce is creamy. Toss in tomatoes and green onions and check the seasoning. Chicken Livers are best when just a little bit pink inside, if you over cook them they get chalky in texture.
- Serve livers on the polenta. Enjoy with a nice medium bodied red, like a valpolicella or a tempranillo or a dark malty beer.