Chicken Liver, Veal & Porcini Ragu

I know a lot of people are squeamish about offal but I love them.  The strange thing is that most people who confess a dislike of offal have never tried them which is such a shame as if they’re cooked properly they can be so delicious. Fans of chicken livers will love this dish but if you’re a novice to the world of offal then chicken livers are a great place to start. Most of us have eaten them in the form of pâté so there’s already a sense of familiarity with the taste and I don’t think their flavour is as intense as say kidneys or beef liver. This ragu is rich and earthy with the porcini adding a delicious woody element.  The addition of a small amount of cream mellows out the intense flavours and gives a lovely silkiness to the sauce .  I like to keep the chicken livers chunky but you can certainly dice them smaller if you wish.

Ingredients – Serves 4

2 large eschalots, peeled and finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2-3 sprigs of thyme
Olive oil
500g chicken livers, cut into chunky dice – they can be diced smaller if you prefer
300g minced veal
20g dry porcini mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
½ cup cream
¼ cup finely diced chives
2 tablespoons butter
500g pappardelle pasta – fettucini would also be good
Freshly grated parmesan for serving

Method

Put the porcini mushrooms in a small bowl and add the boiling water, leave to soak. Heat a skillet or sauté pan over medium heat and add a good glug of olive oil.  Add the eschalots, garlic, thyme and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring now and then, for about 5 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the minced veal, breaking it up with a spoon, and cook until no longer pink. Add the diced chicken livers; increase the heat a little and cook until the livers are just seared, don’t over cook them at this stage. Drain the porcini mushrooms and roughly dice; reserve the soaking liquid. Add the mushrooms to the livers along with another pinch of salt and a generous amount of black pepper and cook for another couple of minutes.  Using a fine sieve to catch any sediment add the soaking liquid from the mushrooms to the sauce and bring to a simmer.  Cover the pan and lower the heat and cook for 15 minutes.  Add the cream and half the chives and bring back to a simmer.  Cook uncovered for a few more minutes.  If your sauce is too dry add a little bit of boiling water and if it’s too runny cook uncovered for a little longer. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.

  
  
To serve bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.  Cook the pasta and drain. Pour the pasta back into the pan and add the butter along with a few large spoonfuls of ragu.  Mix the butter and sauce through the pasta until the butter has melted and place into bowls; top with more ragu, some parmesan and a sprinkling of chives.

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