Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Whisk Wednesdays—Salade de Foies de Volailles Tiedes (Salad of Warm Sautéed Chicken Livers)

Salade de Foies de Volailles Tiedes (Salad of Warm Sautéed Chicken Livers)A simple salad appetizer topped with slippery liver that's been sautéed lightly and finished with a little shallot-wine sauce thickened with crème fraîche. Nothing too tricky and everything is delicious…except the liver.

If I had used foie gras, the perfect substitute, I could tell you all about how foie gras is made and possibly get into trouble from activists about how geese are force fed for the last few weeks of their lives. Do the geese mind the funnel-feeding? Does the liver of ethically-raised geese who naturally gorge themselves taste better than geese that have been force fed? Unfortunately, I didn't have time to run out to buy this delicacy as I had intended to.
"Every good chicken has a good liver."
Peter Hoffman
But I do have a bit of time to think, read and ponder foie gras. Before I knew much about it, I had tasted it and found it smooth, custardy, salty, rich and good. Pan fried lightly in a touch of butter, ending with a bit of a crust and a smooth, velvety center, it was memorable. It was served as part of the main dish at a restaurant that was paying tribute to Julia Child shortly after she died. I ordered Tournedos Rossini (Filet Steaks with Foie gras, Truffles, and Madeira Sauce) found on page 299 in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I: 40th Anniversary Edition. But the fois gras is what stood tall in my memory banks. And how different is fois gras (besides cost!) from chicken liver? I wish I'd had the time to source some fois gras this week just to compare the two offals.
"On a ritz, on a stick, in a box, with some lox...Chicken Liver."
Chicken Liver
Working through this curriculum, I've made several dishes that I wouldn't normally come home from work and choose to make. Frog legs, chicken liver, caul fat encased sausage and soon rabbit are examples. Why does the vision of Hannibal Lecter whispering in my ear linger each time I'm about to sample something unfamiliar, causing me to take a deep breath before taking a taste? Why don't I feel guilt or discomfort when I put a piece of beef tenderloin in my mouth? Is it any different? No, it's just more familiar.

"Real cooks have hard hearts." — Marjorie Leet Ford

Serves 6 (I halved the recipe.)

Salade de Foies de Volailles Tiedes (Salad of Warm Sautéed Chicken Livers) mise en place
1 head escarole
1 head red leaf lettuce

For the Vinaigrette:
¼ cup sherry vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
¾ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chervil or parsley, chopped

1 pound chicken livers
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
½ cup port wine
¾ cup crème fraîche or heavy cream (or sour cream)
1 tablespoons chervil or parsley, chopped

You can find the recipe for Salade de Foies de Volailles Tiedes (Salad of Warm Sautéed Chicken Livers) in the book Le Cordon Bleu at Home or here. To see how the rest of the Whisk Wednesdays group fared with their recipe, click here (or check out the sidebar) and then click on each blogger!

Serve with Chianti.

Tasting Notes
I did a tasting and confirmed that chicken liver is not for me. The vinaigrette was tangy and the pink color of the sauce on the liver was pretty. But next time I'll use regular chicken breast or foie gras instead.
"My idea of heaven is eating patés de foie gras to the sound of trumpets."
— Sydney Smith, English writer (1771-1845)

• Anthony Bourdain on No Reservations, Foie Gras Not Cruel
• Bay Area Bites: Foie Gras: Duck, duck, goose
• Relax, it's just foie gras
• TED Talk: Dan Barber's foie gras parable

My Bucket List
  • Taste fois gras from Eduardo Sousa's farm.

    Next Class
    • Longe de Porc aux Pruneaux (Roast Pork Loin with Prunes) and Mousseline de Céleri Rave (Creamed Celery Root Purée) pages 122-123

    . . . . . . . . . .

    Running total: $1,341.87 + $5.04 = $1,346.91
    ($1.68 per serving)

    Butter used so far: 12 pounds, 3.5 tablespoons

    . . . . . . . . . .
    ::Whisk Wednesdays::
    We're cooking our way through a cooking school curriculum using the Le Cordon Bleu at Home cookbook. The "classes" are based on the Le Cordon Bleu curriculum found online and used as a guideline. Not all the items in the curriculum are in the cookbook, but most are. Where the items are not in the book, we try to find a suitable substitution. Find out more here.
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    Unknown said...

    Interesting. My friend would probably love this recipe, but I'm not so loving of chicken livers. Thanks for sharing.

    Engineer Baker said...

    I've never had chicken liver, but I understand your reaction to "abnormal" protein sources. It's the same one I had when I tried cow tongue the first time. Always the issue with unfamiliar meats, huh?

    lisaiscooking said...

    I don't think I would love whole chicken livers or even very big chunks of them. I like them pureed with other things though. The sauce and the salad sound delicious.

    Anonymous said...

    I'm scared of liver. Great that you tried it! The salad sounds good on its own.

    katie said...

    This is so funny, beucase I just made chicken liver pate last week!. Chicken livers have been on my mind ever since. I went spanish with my pate (with a pickled grape and sherry vinegar gelee), and the went vienamese (banh mi) the next day!

    So excited that we are scared of these slippery friends.

    Looks great!

    Kayte said...

    Kudos to you for your bravery and spirit of participating at full tilt! When I made the dressing up, there was a lot, so I put it in the frig and after a couple days had some on a was even better after the flavors had a chance to be together for awhile. Your post was fun and the photo looks great...if only I didn't know what it was...LOL!

    Sippity Sup said...

    Yum. YumYum...Yum Yum Yum! I am posting chicken liver later this week too! But they will not be this FAB! GREG

    eveningflavors said...


    I really don't prefer to have chicken liver if given a choice.But I guess the presentation looks extremely good and hence will taste also the best.


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    Manggy said...

    Shari, you totally gave me the chills with that Hannibal Lecter bit! Lol. I'm not a super-fan of liver but I do appreciate their taste from time to time. French salads are rare-- I'm happy that you decided to feature this! :)

    angela@spinachtiger said...

    You have asked some good questions. And, you made the blog post extra interesting.

    Elyse said...

    You know, I've never had chicken liver or foie gras. I think it's about time I venture into the unknown territory of these delicacies, eh? This salad looks fantastic!

    pigpigscorner said...

    Not a big fan of chicken liver in this form and I have to agree that foie gras would be perfect!

    Susan @ SGCC said...

    I adore chicken livers and this salad looks like a great way to use them! I will have to try this one soon!

    Sippity Sup said...

    Great minds think alike! Mine might be grumpy and your might be gorgeous, but they are chicken livers none the less! GREG at SippitySup

    La Cuisine d'Helene said...

    I like liver as long as I don't cook it. Wonderful salad.

    PheMom said...

    I'm not gonna lie, but this isn't something that would ever appeal to me - which says an awful lot about your skills in my opinion because that first picture of the salad looks really appealing!

    Anonymous said...

    I've not been able to eat liver most of my life. My mother said I liked chicken livers as a baby...but what did I know then? I'm prepared to make this...for Bruce. And I'll taste it. If I can. It's the experience, right? But foie gras? Right there with you Shari!!

    Jeff said...

    Foie gras is a beautiful thing and the liver or any animal is beautiful. I could go on my rant about how goose's throat is hard as fingernails, the gavalage only takes a short time, etc but I will refrain.

    Instead I will just say a simple beautiful done and perfect!