Sunday, May 18, 2008

Liver Lust

I often wonder what direction food is heading towards in the 21st century. Globalisation of the world's cuisine has seen many changes over the last few decades and at times it can be more than a little confusing. Back in the day (although for some of us it seems difficult to imagine now) pineapple hors'doeuvres, chicken nibblets, meat trees and tuna jelly were all the rage. Thank god we're past that. I think I'd cry if every meal I was presented with was served up in gay coloured crockery and overzealously garnished with sprigs of curly parsley.

But what of now? We've been gradually overwhelmed with increasingly bastardised variations of god knows what kinds of gastronomy.. Minimalist, architectural, contemporary European, modern pan-Asian tapas, 'classic', naturalist and most recently molecular. It's all well and good to eat a deconstructed bloody mary composed of hot-frozen pudding with spherified tomato water and a celery tuile craquante, garnished with a whiff of dancing nitrous and I admit that I think having the knowledge and ability to execute that kind of technical stuff is pretty darn cool, but sometimes it just gets down right confusing.

I mean when exactly did the consumption of good food become some kind of complex ceremonial act where we find it necessary for a professional to stand beside the table and direct us in the art of mastication? How long will it be before El Bulli and Will Goldfarb gelling kits are found in every 'modern' restaurant? Where will the foodie scene move to from there? Will we see gastronomy continue to be pushed into the abstract with the likes of alcohol-soluble flavours and the convergence of sweet and savoury? Or perhaps we may even be introduced to restaurant menus designed specifically for tasters, non-tasters and supertasters.

It's absolutely confounding to try to imagine all of the different possible turns the industry may take in the near future. But you know what? It doesn't matter because regardless of how cuisine changes, we can always return to our favourite memories from the good old days of comfort food before Texturas, like sauteed chicken livers with white onion soubise and oloroso glaze.

The onion soubise will take the longest to cook so be sure to start that first. You'll need four brown onions, about 80 g of unsalted butter, a few sprigs of marjoram and 180 g of pouring cream. Have a pot warming on medium-high heat while you thinly slice up the onions. Splash a little cooking oil into the pot and throw in the butter. Give it a few moments until all the solids have melted then throw in the sliced onions and stir it around. Add only the tiniest amount of salt to bring out the moisture and help along the sweating process then turn the heat down to medium-low, bang on the lid and let it cook for another half hour or so. Give it a stir every now and then (to be sure it doesn't stick and begin to caramelise as it's a white sauce) and keep it cooking until it's completely broken down and the natural sweetness has emerged. Now scrape everything into a food processor with the cream and the marjoram leaves and blitz it until it's as smooth as possible. Taste it for seasoning and add a little more salt if you think it needs it.

The oloroso glaze is a very simple one. Bring a tablespoon of castor sugar to a light caramel and carefully add a splash of red wine vinegar (carefully as it may spit at you). Bring it to the boil then add a cup of oloroso sherry. You can leave this ticking over and reducing slowly while you prepare the livers.

With a sharp knife, remove all possible sinew from the livers and rinse off any unsightly gunk. Toss them in enough cornflour to give them a good coating and season generously with salt and pepper. Have a pan ready over medium-high heat with a splash of good olive oil. Place livers into the pan and caramelise on both sides. Continue cooking until they're done to your liking.

To serve, place a dollop of soubise onto the plate. Pile the livers on top and drizzle over with the thick oloroso glaze.

1 comment:

  1. Mmm I love liver.. and agree with you. Often the best things in life are also the simplest ones :)


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