Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday Night Party of One: Fried Chicken Livers

It's Tuesday night. Boy, do Tuesdays really suck. You no longer have the weekend "umph" that got you through Monday, and now, you're not even halfway through the week. Tuesday nights are an "I quit", give me a can of Chef Boyardee, and get it over with kind of night.
But not tonight, my friends. You see, a miraculous thing has happened. Way back in March when we were all just hoping to get to St. Paddy's Day, my bigger half and I found that Jen and Pete's Backyard farms were now taking orders for chickens that would be dispatched in July. Jen and Pete's is a farm that's run out of Concord, MA, and they pride themselves on raising varieties of fowl and pork, sustainably. Happy animals are produced by allowing them plenty of room to roam, and releasing them to the outdoors when the New England winter has subsided sometime in May. Since they are allowed to live out happy lives with plenty of forage during the warmer weather, the farm boasts having some very tasty birds, and these chickens sell out very quickly, hence why I was on the hunt way back in March. At any rate, last Saturday, our Freedom Rangers (a slower growing bird with genetics from France that have a more evenly distributed ratio of dark to white meat compared to other typically seen chickens in your local grocery store) were slaughtered, and ready for pickup this past weekend. In addition to our beautiful birds, we also had a bonus stroke of luck and picked up about six chicken livers to do something with during this week, and man oh man, they are gorgeous.
So today, instead of turning to slop for my dinner, I decided on frying up some lovely, fresh, extra slippery chicken livers. 

The preparation is pretty simple:
1. Clean your chicken livers, trimming away any extra fat or sinewy bits that may have been missed. For my meal, I used three whole livers.
2. Now, soak them in a bit of milk for about five minutes. I also added a splash of dry white vermouth... not entirely sure why, but in my mind it helps to further quell a scent that offends some. (With chicken livers this fresh, however, I'm pretty sure you don't have to worry too much about the smell.) 
3. While soaking, prep a flour mixture of about a cup of flour, a teaspoon of salt, a half teaspoon of Johnny's Salt, a teaspoon of poultry spice, and then a few good shakes of black pepper. 
4. Heat up about two inches of oil in a sauce pan on medium heat.
5. By now your chicken livers should have enough soaking time. Dredge them with the flour mixture, shaking off any excess, and drop them into the oil. I turn about every minute, and cook for three to four minutes, depending on the size of the liver. It also helps if you have a splash guard, or some kind of viking shield, because frying stuff = spitting oil = ow! it burns! I'd say maybe I'm frying at too high a heat, but then again, there's usually only one or two little pops that really aim for my face. I'll never learn.
6. Remove your livers, drain on a paper towel for a few moments, and you're ready to eat.

So tonight, my most spectacular dinner featured these three fried chicken livers, baked corn on the cob, and some lovely slices of roasted potatoes with salt, pepper, and marjoram. Oh, and a fried sunny side up egg, because nothing is quite as decadent as crispy on the outside, rich, irony, creamy chicken liver, dunked in a little bit of succulent egg yolk... a perfect sauce. For those of you who don't really like liver, or aren't likely to try it, I say more fool you, and more for me, because they are quick to prepare, and absolutely delicious.

By the way, prior to cooking up my feast, I stopped by Salem Wine Imports, for their Tuesday evening tasting, and learned a pretty neat fact from the proprietor, Eric Olson. Having been of similar opinion in the past, he pointed out an article in Wine Spectator, which urged enthusiasts to give less tannin reds, like a Beaujolais, a quick bit of a chill before enjoying. Red wines like these can actually be stored at a cooler temperature, somewhere around the mid 50s, unlike their more tannin cousins, like a Bordeaux. As part of the tasting, we tried a Cote du Roussillon called Bila-Haut, and I thought this had a surprisingly crisp, still slightly sandy and acidic, but not quite as tannin-heavy taste as say a meaty Bordeaux. Since this was a pretty nice red with a few interesting notes that I could actually identify being a wine novice, I thought it might be a good match to the chicken livers, which are minerally and rich, and therefore may be better suited to a red than a wimpy summer white, and asked what he might think of pairing the Bila-Haut with some good ol' fried chicken livers. Being a terrific fan of such things himself, Eric sent me on my way with a bottle of the surprisingly affordable red, reminding me to shoot it into the freezer for about five to ten minutes before enjoying. I gotta say, the wine paired quite nicely with my kick-ass Tuesday dinner... and made it a little more classy too, classy broad that I am.

Pretty darn good for the worst night of the week, wouldn't you say?


Jen and Pete's Backyard Birds and Farmyard
159 Wheeler Road
Concord, MA 01742


Ingredient Rundown
1 cup whole milk
1 cup dry white vermouth (optional)
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Johnny's Seasoning Salt
1 teaspoon poultry spice
Few good shakes of pepper
1-2 cups of vegetable oil (or enough so you have an inch or two at the bottom of the pan)
1 viking shield, to prevent oil from popping up and burning your face

Salem Wine Imports
32 Church Street
Salem, MA 01970

Potatoes - from Kimball Fruit Farm @ Dewey Square Farmers Market
Milk for soaking livers - Richardson's Milk from Middleton, MA
Native Corn - Milk and Honey Grocer in Salem, MA from a farm in Hadley, MA
Eggs - Maitland Farm in Salem, MA, again via Milk and Honey Grocer

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