Monday, 19 October 2009

Duck Liver Salad

Having my card declined in the local butcher was the pretty embarrassing tipping point which has since prompted a rethink of my food shopping habits. It seems that if prices continue their ever uphill march I will soon be grouping many previously affordable staples in the luxury category along with precious saffron and caviar.

Not wanting to test the worn plastic of my card on lamb fillets, steak or even a chicken I looked at ingredients I usually bypass. While both lamb and calves liver can be a minefield of unpleasant textures if not prepared or cooked properly, the same of a duck or chicken are more straightforward, delicious and importantly won’t break the bank. In a supermarket you can pick up enough for four people as a starter for less than £3 and in a few minutes turn them into a paté with just butter, brandy and garlic. It seems that in these tight times all sorts of offal is becoming more popular.

Or pan fry them and add them to a salad or pile on top of toast.

Duck Liver Salad (serves four as a starter, two as a main)

400g duck livers
150-200g salad leaves (baby spinach and lambs lettuce are ideal)
1 heaped tsp dijon mustard
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp red wine
salt and pepper
oil and butter for frying

Trim the livers of any obvious gristle or veins with a sharp knife and cut them in half or thirds to make chunks of roughly the same size.

Heat a little oil and butter in a heavy based frying pan until almost smoking. Fry the livers in batches for about a minute on each side, until sealed and browned, removing them to a warm plate and adding a little more oil and butter in between batches if needed.

Return all of the livers to the hot pan and add the red wine, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan. Add the balsamic vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper and simmer for a couple of minutes with a lid.

Dress the spinach and lettuce leaves with a little olive oil and lemon juice in a large bowl and then arrange on four plates. Allow the livers to rest for a few minutes, check the seasoning and then spoon on top of the salad, drizzling with the balsamic sauce.

Either serve as it is or with slices of crusty bread or toast.

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