Showing posts with label chicken livers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chicken livers. Show all posts

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Gram’s Cajun Rice Dressing

Rice dressing with pork, beef, chicken livers and gizzards, seasoned with onion, bell pepper and garlic, just like my grandmother used to make it, hence the title, Gram's Cajun Rice Dressing! Some Cajun cookbooks call this “dirty rice” but in my family, we just call it dressing.

Many years ago my cousin, Simone, put together a family cookbook of favorites and kindly made copies to share with the rest of us. When the Sunday Supper theme for today was announced – National Grandparents Day – I knew that would be the best place to start looking for one of my grandmother’s recipe that I haven’t already shared. I’ve posted quite a few because those are ones I still cook all the time but I needed fresh inspiration. I’ll be honest, I hadn’t thought about my grandmother’s dressing in quite a while but as soon as I turned to that page, I knew I couldn’t make anything else.

Rice dressing was always a favorite on both of my grandmother’s dinner tables, making an appearance quite regularly not just for Thanksgiving or Christmas but often also on Sundays.

In the old days, they would grind the liver and gizzards at home in a meat grinder or asked the butcher to do it, but nowadays we use a food processor. In fact, to make it even easier, folks living in Louisiana can buy the “dressing mix” pre-made in every grocery store and my mom informs me that it’s even available in Houston.

If you aren’t a liver lover, you can leave it out, but I’d like to reassure you that with only four whole livers in all that rice and ground meat, the flavor is very, very subtle. I think they are essential to get the right flavor.

Gram’s Cajun Rice Dressing

This rice dressing makes me miss my grandmothers but it also brings back wonderful memories of them. This is the taste of home.

For the rice:
2 cups or 400g uncooked long-grained rice
1 1/2 teaspoon fine salt

For the roux:
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon or 42g flour
1/4 cup or 60ml canola or other light oil

For the dressing:
8 chicken gizzards (about 4 oz or 115g)
4 whole chicken livers (about 4 oz or 115g)
3/4 lb or 340g ground pork
1/2 lb or 227g ground beef
1 large onion
1 small green bell pepper (capsicum)
1 small bunch green onions (plus more to garnish, if desired)
2 cloves garlic
Salt, black pepper, cayenne to taste
8 cups cooked rice

Cook your rice with the salt by your favorite method. I’m not giving water amounts or cooking times since rice varies so widely. My grandmothers would have used a local Louisiana rice that was relatively short-grained but since I can’t get that in Dubai, I’ve used long-grained Indian Basmati. Long-grained rice fluffs up more so my two cups raw made eight cups of cooked rice.

While the rice is cooking, you can make the roux. Using the amount of flour and oil in the ingredients list, follow the instructions here: How to Make Roux. Set the roux pot aside to cool in a sink filled with a little cool water. You don't want it to continue to darken once it's done. Don't get any water in the pot though!

Put your gizzards in the food processor and chop them up finely. Add in the liver and give it another few pulses to chop the liver as well.

Add the oil to a large pot or pan and then tip in the ground pork, ground beef and your chopped liver and gizzards.

Cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, breaking the meat into small pieces with your spoon as it cooks.

While the meat is cooking, finely chop your onion, bell pepper, green onions and garlic.

Once the meat is well browned and even a little crispy, add in the chopped vegetables. Stir well.

Cook the mixture over a medium heat, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft and just about disappear.

Add in your roux and a cup or two of water and stir well. Season the mixture with salt, fresh ground black pepper and cayenne to taste. We like ours pretty spicy.

Lower the fire and simmer for a couple of hours, adding water occasionally when the mixture gets a little too dry. You want to end up with a thick meat-filled gravy.

Gently fluff your rice with a fork to separate the grains and then mix the rice in with the meat.

Garnish with some chopped green onions or parsley.


What special recipes have your grandparents handed down to you? Here’s a list of favorites from my Sunday Supper family.

Sweets that are the Sweetest
Savory Meals with Special Memories


Friday, January 30, 2015

Chicken Liver and Fig Terrine

Tender - just pink - chicken livers, red wine, cognac and sweet dried black mission figs are blended to make a delicious terrine. Serve it with sliced baguette, toast or crackers. 

Just because a get-together is meant to celebrate a football game or another sporting event, that doesn’t mean you can’t add a little sophistication to the menu. These little pots of chicken liver terrine (although, dear God, don’t call it that if you are feeding a picky crowd!) would be the perfect addition to your party table. They can be made a couple of days ahead.  Keep them well chilled and covered with a thin layer of melted butter or even duck fat, if you have some on hand.

I married a sports buff who was raised playing football (but in his case, read: soccer) but he also enjoys golf, tennis and American football. Even his very English father indulged, watching college and pro football while living in Freeport, Bahamas. I’ve already told the story of how I met the in-laws, so I’ll just say that finding out that my father-in-law enjoyed watching American football was another large surprise. I figured him for a cricket man with his posh English accent. But I can tell you this, he would have loved this terrine, no matter what the sport it accompanied. And his son is also a big fan.

Now, the way I understand it, a terrine is usually chunkier than a pâté. While the base of this is quite smooth, the mission figs are chunky so I guess this qualifies. This recipe is slightly adapted from the cookbook, Chocolate & Zucchini.  (<affiliate link)

1/3 cup or 80ml red wine
4 tablespoons or 40ml cognac
1 lb or 450g chicken livers
1 small onion
1 large clove garlic
8 dried black mission figs
Olive oil
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme plus extra to garnish
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon flakey sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh grown black pepper
1/2 cup or 115g unsalted butter, chilled

For preservation and decoration:
1/4 – 1/3 cup or 60-75g melted butter or duck fat ,depending on the width of your bowls.
Mixed peppercorns

Clean the chicken livers by pulling of any gristle or fat with a sharp knife and rinse them with cold water in a colander. Allow to drain well.

Put the livers in a bowl and add in the wine and cognac. Stir well and cover with cling film. Leave to marinate for 2-3 hours in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile mince your onion and garlic and set aside. Cut the stems off of your dried mission figs and soak them in hot water for about 30 minutes.

Pull the leaves off of your thyme and mince them.

Once the marinading time is up, drain the livers but save the marinade.

Put a healthy drizzle of olive oil in your pan and sauté the onion and garlic until they are translucent.

Add in the drained livers, thyme and bay leaves.  Cook over high heat for just a few minutes, browning the outsides of the liver.

Add in the wine/cognac marinade that you saved.

Cook for a few more minutes, until the liquid has evaporated. The insides of your liver should still be ever so slightly pink.

Tip everything into a food processor and process until smooth, using a rubber spatula to clean down the sides occasionally.

Cut your chilled butter into small cubes and add them to the liver. Process to blend.

When you have a smooth paste, add in the figs and processor briefly. You want them well mixed in but with small chunks still visible.

Tip the mixture into your serving vessels and smooth the top. I chose two smaller bowls because I was transporting them to another city by car, but you can put it all into one larger vessel, if desired.

Put one small sprig of thyme on top for decoration. Melt your butter or duck fat and pour it carefully on top of the terrine to keep it from drying out and turning dark.

Sprinkle on a few whole peppercorns, if desired.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.


And no matter which your team or tournament, may your favorite win!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Crostini con Fegato e Salvia

Hands up all of you who know that tomorrow is the last day of the month.  Okay, smarty-pants, you can put your hands down now.  And you in the back?  No one said to stand so stop showing off.  After 50 years of operating under the Gregorian calendar on a daily basis you’d think I’d have this February thing down pat.  Not so.  Today I was happily making my recipe for +belleau kitchen's Random Recipe Challenge, for which the deadline is normally a couple of days before the end of the month.  And I was thinking that I was cutting it close but would nip in under the wire.  I finished cooking, and eating, and sat down to write this, first just heading over to Dom’s to make sure I had the link correct and saw to my horror that the February recipe round up boat had sailed.

Which makes me sad.  So, let me share something with you that made me happy, albeit briefly, today.  It was the Chicken Liver Crostini from Stephanie Alexander and Maggie Beer’s Tuscan Cookbook.  I know chicken liver is not for everyone but I think more people would give it a chance, especially cooked like this, if we called it something different.  After all, look how many people eat pâté without a thought of liver!  Chopped Foie Crostini?  Or, since this is supposed to be Italian, how about Crostini con Fegato e Salvia.  Doesn’t that sound better?  Just give me a minute – Gotta change my title.  Okay, I'm back.  On to the recipe!

3 tablespoon butter
live oil
10 1/2 oz or 300g chicken livers, cleaned
8 sage leaves
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon tiny capers
2 tablespoon fresh flat-leaved parsley
8 slices baguette
1 clove garlic
Sea salt
Black pepper

Preheat your oven to 400°F or 200°C and lay your baguette slices out on a baking tray.

Cut your livers into 4-5 pieces each.

Mince your sage leaves and chop your parsley.

Go ahead and measure out the capers and set them aside since it can be tricky to get them out of a small-necked bottle without their liquid.  And you don’t want their liquid, just the capers.

Melt the butter in a frying pan and add in a little drizzle of olive oil.  Toss in the sage quickly followed by the livers and fry for just a few minutes.

Add in the capers, vinegar and parsley and increase the heat to reduce the liquid.  You want to do this quickly so you can keep a little pink inside the livers.  I figured they were done and enough liquid was gone when the butter started popping at me.

Transfer the livers, herbs and capers to a large cutting board, leaving behind the butter, and chop the lot into small bits with a sharp knife.

Return it all to the frying pan and stir it into the little butter that was left.   Taste a small piece and add salt and pepper to your liking.

Brush one side of the bread slices with olive oil (I forgot this step and, frankly, didn’t miss it.) and toast in the oven until golden.

Rub a clove of garlic on the toasted bread or crostini.

Pile on the liver mixture and serve immediately.  If you have spare sage leaves, they make a pretty garnish.


Tuscan Cookbook
 was randomly picked number 27 in my Eat Your Books list and, as per Dom’s Random Recipe Challenge #25 rules, I made the recipe I opened to randomly.  But it was delicious and I would definitely make it again.  I had planned to tell you all about this beautiful book, written by two icons of Australian cooking.  About how it was written with the menus of their teaching holidays when Ms. Alexander and Ms. Beer would rent a villa in Tuscany and explore markets and cook with their students.  There was much laughter and good wine and delicious food and this is a cookbook I love to read as much for their camaraderie and adventures as the recipes.  But I just don’t have the heart anymore.

Random Recipes #25 - Feb

But make sure to head on over to Dom’s blog and see all the lovely recipes from the smart people who know what day it is.