Sunday, January 24, 2016

Hunkered Down In The Cold - Chicken Livers and Waffles

Siri has advised me that it is currently 46 degrees Fahrenheit, which for Florida is an obscene concept. Even worse, it is 36 degrees in our state capital.  Perhaps Governor Voldemort should start wearing a knit skull cap.  Or a ski mask. Something to keep warm until term limits cast him thankfully out of the Governor's Mansion.

Rob gives in to Hand Knit Socks Weather

I think this is Day 4 of this headache; today my right eye seems particularly painful. But it's Sunday, no plans, no reason to leave my little corner of the living room. It's nice and warm here; I can eat my poached egg and sip my coffee in relative comfort. My friends and family up north, not so much - I know from personal experience that those bitter winds can give gas and electric heat a run for it's money, and even the best insulation can't completely block the cold.

Also, at my age, heading out to shovel several thousand feet of the white stuff can be dangerous to one's health. When I was a kid growing up in my parent's house in North Woodmere, we had a ridiculous amount of shoveling because the house was set on a corner lot. My brother and I cheerfully pitched in to help my Pop (everything is fun when you're school-age young), shlepping coal shovels that weighed as much as we did. If I tried to do that now, I would likely keel over and land face down in a snow drift. "Shoveling snow can pose serious risk to the heart" happens to be the topic under discussion on the health and medical segment on Fox News. Doctors Siegal and Samadi both agree that if you are over 50, hire someone to do your shoveling. I hope all of my Frozen Loved Ones Of A Certain Age are cognizant of that grim reality.

My cooking plan for today is beyond easy, but considered offal ... sautéed chicken livers. One of the easiest, cheapest, most satisfying dinners around. Go ahead, make a face. I made a face when I saw that chicken livers had increased from 99 cents to (gasp) $1.69 a pound! It's now going to cost me almost $2.00 to feed my family. The nerve! (Well, to feed Rob and me ... Cory still won't touch this.) Having bought a little over 3 pounds, that would let me feed 6 to 8 adventurous chowhounds or 4 Jewish Brooklynites for around $5.00.  Think about that. I'm thinking about leftovers.

This is a throwback recipe; I first published it in 2011, June 5 to be precise, back in the day I complicated my life with "companion" blogs. (If you're curious about the blog post that went with the recipe, click here. Never mind that it has nothing to do with the recipe. Nothing. We were - gasp - just returned from a Carnival cruise.)

Some of you may wish to avert your eyes - not me

I have no potatoes to mash (the perfect chicken liver side dish) but I'm watching Brunch with Bobby while writing this and he is pulling me inexorably towards waffles.

Oh yeah - thanks Bobby. No, really. I needed a good reason to dig out this waffle iron (I have more than one) and that cookbook.

Let's start with the chicken livers - I am going to make these Casino-style, which involves dried oregano. President Lyndon Johnson's family counted this dish as a family favorite.

2 large onions, halved and then thinly sliced
4 large cloves garlic, smashed and minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 pounds of fresh chicken livers, placed in a colander, rinsed with cold water, and very well drained
Kosher salt, black pepper
Dried herbes d' provence

I spiralized the onions - what fun!

Heat the oil and butter together in a large skillet.  Add the onions and garlic and saute until golden brown.  Remove with a slotted spoon and hold to the side.  Leave any remaining oil and butter in the skillet.

Chicken livers are often joined by a membrane; snip this with kitchen scissors, and you will have two nice pieces.  I do not recommend cutting the livers any smaller than this.   Season the livers with the salt and pepper, and then add to the skillet. 

Put the heat up to high, and then add the herbes d' provence.  Cook for three to five minutes, or until the livers are browned on both sides.  Let most of the excess liquid in the pan evaporate, but do not let the livers dry out.  Add back the onions and garlic, heat together for a minute or two, then turn into a serving dish and sprinkle with some parsley.

If you can't find the herbes, use dried oregano and call your dish Chicken Livers Casino. The very best thing to serve this with is old fashioned mashed potatoes and buttered green peas. 

And now the Crispy Cornmeal Waffles - first time I've tried these. The book is Waffles from morning to midnight by Dorie Greenspan.  As you can see, the book is way out of print, although it is available used. I am going to type up the recipe, because there's no other way to reasonably acquire it.

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal. preferably stone ground
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 large eggs

Preheat your waffle iron. If you want to hold the finished waffles until serving time, preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt the butter; reserve. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In another bowl, thoroughly combine the buttermilk, maple syrup, and eggs.  Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and whisk, stopping when the ingredients are just combined. Stir in the melted butter.

Lightly butter or spray the grids of your iron. Brush or spray the grids again only if subsequent waffles stick.

Spoon out 1/2 cup of batter (or the amount recommended by your waffler's manufacturer) onto the hot iron. Use a metal spatula or wooden spoon to smooth the batter almost to the edge of the grids. Close the lid and bake until browned and crisp.

Truthfully, my waffle-making skills need some work ... well, I usually have quite good luck when I use the round Waring Belgian Waffle machine, but this was something else. I'm not sure if it was the way I prepared the batter, or something with the Proctor-Silex waffle iron, or the recipe itself.

I guess I'll just have to try it again. I admittedly made changes, always a bad idea the first time through an untried recipe. I halved the recipe, used coarse cornmeal (not stone ground), and used fake buttermilk (the old lemon juice and whole milk trick). With all that, the taste was really good, and Robert loved them all nice and toasty, supporting a whole lot of those delicious chicken livers.

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