An Acquired Taste

 

Even if you are squeamish about offal, this dish, with is rich, autumn flavours, should appeal to everyone.
– PETER MEIER savours some of the less glamourous cuts of meat.

Offal is very much an acquired taste, the type of food you either love or hate. I love it. Maybe growing up in Europe did the trick, although there are some exceptions – hearts and lungs, for instance and tripe, which I find a bit rubbery and tasteless. And it’s only recently that I have taken a liking to brains.

My favourites are veal kidneys and calf’s liver, but you need a butcher of European background with access to real veal (not young yearling beef, which is generally sold as veal in Australia and New Zealand). Real veal is from milk-fed calves.

Sweetbreads, rather out of fashion these days, come from the thymus gland and pancreas of both lamb and veal. The latter have more flavour; the same applies to brains.

Ox tongue is an old English favourite. Thinly sliced, lightly oiled and quickly sautéed or grilled just long enough to heat through and get crisp, it makes the most delicious and easy autumn starter, served on top of mixed greens (especially spicy, peppery ones, such as rocket) with a tangy mustard and herb salsa.

But this recipe should appeal to everyone.

Chicken livers on bruschetta with bacon mushrooms in a rich port glaze

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 200ml chicken stock
  • 200ml red wine
  • 100ml port wine
  • 2 tblsp redcurrant jelly
  • 2 tsp cornflour, dissolved in a little water
  • 4 slices crusty bread
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 600g chicken liver, cleaned
  • Seasoned flour, for dusting
  • 2 tblsp butter
  • 2 tblsp vegetable oil
  • 4 rashers rindless bacon, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 punnet Swiss Browns (mushrooms), thinly sliced
  • Watercress and rocket for garnish

Method

Make sauce by combining chicken stock, wines and redcurrant jelly. Bring to the boil and cook until volume is reduced by half. Add cornflour mixture, cook gently for five minutes then set aside. Baste bread slices with olive oil and toast under grill or in a pan.

Dust livers in the flour. Heat half the butter and oil in a skillet. When hot, add livers and sauté until a lovely brown colour and cooked but still lightly pink in the middle. Set aside in a warm place. Sauté the bacon, onions and mushrooms in the remaining butter oil mix.

To serve, place the warm toasted bread on the plate, with the livers on top. Spoon over the sauce and arrange the bacon and mushroom on the liver.

Garnish with greens.