Eating animal organs has become no big deal for me. I have eaten things potentially far more disgusting than organs. Not surprisingly, Japan is where I learned to truly appreciate certain parts of animals that are not commonly eaten in the States.

Beef’s tongue? Tasty. Beef’s liver? Eh,  not so much, unless you eat it when it’s hot and fresh and hasn’t gone all chalky. Heart? So-so. Intestine? Not much of a flavor, and the texture is no good at all.

Foie gras? I could eat that every day for the rest of my life and never get tired of it. Maybe that makes me a terrible person. I can’t help it, I love the stuff. Love it.

But this is not foie gras, this is just regular old chicken liver, and I don’t know that I’ve ever eaten it before this.

This is how we imagine French food to really be: pieces of animal that no sane American would consider cooking – let alone consuming – pureed into a smooth, custardy, and fiddly-looking dish. Disgusting, intimidating, and possibly pretentious.

But it’s not. I promise. Sane Americans do eat chicken liver, and they enjoy it too. For good reason: it’s tasty.

I didn’t know that. Again, I’m not sure I’ve ever been offered chicken liver, and it certainly wasn’t something I would go after on my own. Thankfully, we have Dorie to encourage us.

I really was on my own with this one, though. Geordie would have nothing to do with even the idea of buying chicken livers, much less eating them. Which is too bad, because chicken livers are cheap and plentiful here in San Antonio (and probably elsewhere – I don’t know, I’ve never shopped for chicken liver before this). Cheap is usually something Geordie doesn’t argue with.

But, I wasn’t going to torture him with chicken liver for dinner – and I wasn’t going to go to the trouble of making this for me and something else entirely for him. So, I decided to make it for lunch.

The hardest part of this meal was getting the proportions right. The recipe originally yields six servings. Because it calls for three eggs and three egg yolks, I decided to make it easier on myself and just cut it down to a third of the recipe. That still required pulling up the calculator, but what’s a little bit of math in the name of good French food?

Armed with numbers, I gathered the ingredients and threw them into the blender.

Chicken liver, egg + yolk, heavy cream + milk, a splash of brandy, and a dash of sage, rosemary, and thyme.

Chicken liver, egg + yolk, heavy cream + milk, a splash of brandy, and a dash of sage, rosemary, and thyme.

The custard is poured into ramekins, and they are given a hot water bath as they go into the oven.

The custard is poured into ramekins, and they are given a hot water bath as they go into the oven.

After 35 minutes, they came out all lovely and browned and firm.

After 35 minutes, they came out all lovely and browned and firm.

Now, had I been very intelligent, I would have served it like that, because it looks fairly decent, doesn’t it? But there’s a certain fascination with unmolding things and seeing how they look standing proudly on their own.

Plus, I had already prepared a plate for it. Dorie’s recipe also has you making pickled onions to go with it, which is far, far worse than chicken liver could ever be. She offered an alternative tomato sauce, but upon reading the recipe, it sounded exactly like the marinara I already had in the fridge. So I spread some of that on a plate, sprinkled on a little Parmigiano cheese, and zapped it a bit in the microwave.

And I unmolded a gâteau right onto the center of it.

Chicken liver gâteau with marinara sauce.

Chicken liver gâteau with marinara sauce.

Yeah, I think it looks like Fancy Feast too. You know, the not-chunky, without-gravy kind.

Fortunately, it doesn’t smell like Fancy Feast. Nor does it taste like it.

I think. I’ve never actually eaten Fancy Feast, so I can’t really say for sure. But since I liked this chicken liver gâteau, I’m guessing it doesn’t taste like Fancy Feast.

It actually smelled a lot like turkey sausage, which wasn’t completely unpleasant. Taking the first bite, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was a delicious melding of meatiness, creaminess, and herbiness. It was rich, but not overly so. It held its shape nicely, and it wasn’t too soft and gooey on the tongue. It practically melted in my mouth. The acidity of the tomatoes in the marinara really complemented all the rich creaminess of the gâteau without overpowering it. I do believe it’s the most luxurious lunch I’ve had in a long time.

Yes, I enjoyed this so much that I ate both of the gâteaux. I probably shouldn’t have, but one was not quite filling enough. And it was just that tasty. I mean, this was seriously, seriously good. And seriously easy. I’ve got about a half-pound of chicken liver still in the fridge, and I’m very likely going to do another batch of this today and maybe freeze them for lunches over the next couple weeks. The only thing I’d do differently is to eat them with come crusty bread.  It was fine on its own, but I think it would be terrific with some bread. Or crackers, at the very least.

This one got mixed reviews from the Doristas, which isn’t surprising. It’s not just a matter of taste but of texture as well. I love a good paté, and this definitely qualifies! Check out the French Friday links and see how the others fared. In the meantime, be adventurous in your cooking! You never know what you might discover!

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