CHICKEN LIVER & ORANGE PARFAIT CROSTINI
"ON THE EIGHTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS…
UN PATÉ SU CROSTINI"
There is a little bar along a canal in the Venetian Sestiere of Cannaregio called Al Timon. In the summer they have a boat moored to the canal-side where you can climb aboard and make a picnic of the delicious little chicchetti available behind the glass inside. In the winter, huddling along the bar is preferable, but ridiculously conducive to over-eating! My favourite chicchetto is their delicious liver crostini. This is my tribute version, using chicken (as opposed to veal) liver, and flavoured with orange juice, orange booze, and orange pieces! Perfect as a Christmas party canapé.
(Makes approx. 16 crostini)
- A few tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 small shallots – finely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove – crushed
- 250g chicken livers
- 60ml Cointreau or Grand Marnier
- 1 orange – juice of half the orange, the other half to garnish
- Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 100g of softened butter – cut into cubes
- 1 thin baguette for crostini
- Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
- Some sprigs of rosemary to garnish
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat, then add the shallots and fry gently until soft but not coloured (approx. 5 minutes). Next add the garlic and continue to fry for a further couple of minutes, while stirring to ensure that the garlic doesn’t stick or burn.
Add the livers to the pan, season generously with salt and pepper, and fry until coloured on all sides and cooked through, (6-8 minutes). If in doubt, cut one open to check that it’s done – a touch of pink is fine, anything more and it needs more cooking.
Next remove everything from the pan and into a food processor. Return the empty pan to the stovetop over a high heat, then deglaze by first adding the liquor (whichever you are using, Cointreau or Grand Marnier), followed by the orange juice. Allow the liquids to reduce for a couple of minutes or so at a simmer, use a wooden spoon to gently encourage any residue off the bottom of the pan into de-glazing liquid!
Next, pour the reduced pan juices into the food processor over the liver and onions, and proceed to blend on a high setting until smooth.
With the motor of the food processor still running, add the cubes of butter, one by one, and continue blending until these are well incorporated.
You’re now ready to refrigerate the parfait until ready to use. Try to leave at least 3 hours in the fridge before serving to allow time for it to set and achieve the correct consistency.
To prepare the garnishes, slice orange very thinly, and proceed to cut each slice into small triangles. I like to leave the peel on, because it looks festive, and because, cut thinly enough, it adds a zesty, but not over-powering flavour. But, if you’re not so sure, simply cut if off instead. Prepare the rosemary by pinching little groups of two or three leaves off the main stem.
When ready to assemble and serve, thinly slice the baguette in 16 rounds. Drizzle these very lightly with olive oil and place under a hot grill for a couple of minutes until golden.
Use a butter knife to spread a spoonful of pâté onto each of the grilled rounds, then garnish with an orange triangle and a little frond of rosemary leaves – like the feathers in a mountaineer’s felt hat!