Seared Duck Liver with Crispy-Fried Shallots, Porcini and Armagnac-Verjus Demi

Fresh duck liver is seasoned simply with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, then seared over high heat with a bit of clarified butter.  The pan is deglazed with Armagnac then reduced with duck stock, verjus and demi-glace. Served over wilted spinach with crispy-fried shallots, porcini mushrooms and a garlic croûton.

Although high in cholesterol, duck liver is low-fat, low-calorie and extraordinarily high in Vitamins A and B12.  It is also a very good source of protein and iron..

Seared Duck Liver with Wilted Spinach, Crispy-Fried Porcini, Shallots and Armagnac-Verjus Demi

Verjuice (from Middle French vertjus “green juice”) is a very acidic juice made by pressing unripe grapes. Sometimes lemon or sorrel juice, herbs or spices are added to change the flavour. In the Middle Ages, it was widely used all over Western Europe as an ingredient in sauces, as a condiment, or to deglaze preparations.

Picking green grapes for making verjuice. Tacuinum Sanitatis (1474). Paris Bibliothèque nationale

Pan-Roasted Duck Breast with Blackberry and Cranberry Chutney

Succulent, aged Moulard duck breast with thyme, bay and a hint of freshly-grated nutmeg is pan-seared, then quickly roasted to a perfect medium-rare.  Served with Armagnac-flamed pan juices, asparagus with garlic and parsley root, and gingered wild blackberry and cranberry chutney..

Pan-Roasted Moulard

Pan-Roasted Moulard with Blackberry/Cranberry Chutney

For the Chutney

1/3 cup red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon rendered duck fat
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly-grated ginger
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons wildflower honey
1 cup fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over
1/2 cup wild blackberries
salt and pepper

Sauté the onions in duck fat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in ginger, vinegar, honey and cranberries. Lower heat, cover and simmer until all the cranberries have popped, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to cool. Adjust sweetness/tartness with a little vinegar or honey if you think it needs it, then season to taste with sea salt and cracked pepper. The finished mixture should be thick.

For the Duck (adapted from a recipe by Thomas Keller)

1/2 fresh Moulard duck breast (about 1 pound)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup Armagnac

Use a sharp, thin knife to score a cross-hatch pattern into the fat side of the duck breast, taking care not to cut into the muscle.  Season on all sides with salt, pepper, thyme and nutmeg, then lay bay leaves against the flesh, loosely wrap in butcher’s paper and refrigerate overnight.

Allow to duck breast to sit on the counter for 20 minutes while you pre-heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat.  Add the duck breast skin-side down to the hot pan, then reduce heat to medium low and cook, moving often, until the skin is golden brown and much of the fat has been rendered out.

Flip the breast over and sauté for 1 minute, then pour off the fat and place the pan in a 375 degree oven until almost medium-rare, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer the duck to a cutting board and allow to rest at least 5 minutes before carving.

Meanwhile, de-glaze the pan with Armagnac, and add a small knob of butter.  Sauté diced parsley root until tender/crisp, then add garlic and thinly-sliced asparagus (a great way to use up leftover stalks) and sauté until the asparagus is tender.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Slice the duck breast on a 1/4-inch bias and arrange on a warmed plate.  Spoon asparagus and pan juices over the top and garnish with blackberry/cranberry chutney.

Rosemary Chicken Liver Skewers

(you might also like this recipe)

Local, pastured chicken livers pan-fried on rosemary skewers with garlic smashed purple potatoes and mushroom & onion gravy..

Rosemary Chicken Liver Skewers

Rosemary Chicken Liver Skewers

For 2 servings

Garlic Smashed Potatoes

3 medium purple potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1-2 cloves Chesnok or other strong garlic, minced
1 tablespoon pastured butter
2 tablespoons fresh whole milk
sea salt and cracked pepper

Boil potatoes in salted water until tender. Pour off all but 2 ounces of water and keep hot until 5 minutes before ready to serve.  To finish, pour off any remaining water and stir in butter and garlic.  Mash with a flat-faced potato masher and thin slightly with milk.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Mushroom and Onion Gravy

1 tablespoon pastured butter
1 palm-full pearl onions
1 palm-full large brown mushrooms, quartered
1 oz Armagnac or brandy
4 oz roasted chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons roux
sea salt and cracked pepper

Sauté mushrooms and onions in butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat until well browned.  Off-heat, de-glaze the pan with 1 oz Armagnac or brandy.  Return to heat and add chicken stock.  Reduce slightly, then whisk in a little roux to tighten.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Whisk in a knob of cold butter just before serving.

Rosemary Chicken Liver Skewers

12 oz fresh, pastured chicken livers, cleaned, rinsed and patted dry
4 6-inch rosemary skewers
1 tablespoon rendered chicken fat
1 tablespoon pastured butter
sea salt and cracked pepper

Thread 2-3 plump chicken livers onto each of 4 6-inch rosemary skewers.  Set on paper towels and pat dry.  Season with salt and pepper.

Sear livers on all sides in chicken fat and butter in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until nicely browned and medium-rare to medium doneness.  Add 2 tablespoons chicken stock and allow to sit 2 minutes.

To serve, mound smashed potatoes in the center of a large plate.  Place 2 skewers on top of the potatoes then spoon gravy over the top.  Garnish with bits of herbs and greens.

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Loin of Rabbit with Pancetta, Porcini and Wild Onions

Loin of rabbit with pancetta, porcini, wild onions, garlic and sage..

Sauté pancetta in a teaspoon of clarified butter until most of the fat has been rendered.  Turn the heat up to medium-high, then add thick pieces of porcini mushroom and continue to cook until golden brown.

Season strips of rabbit loin with sea salt and freshly-ground pepper and add to the hot pan with garlic, onions and sage. Let the rabbit brown, but keep it to no more than medium doneness.

De-glaze the pan with an ounce of Armagnac and stir up all the brown bits with the edge of a wooden spoon. Add 1/4 cup of chicken stock and reduce slightly.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add a couple of ounces of fresh cream and a good spoonful of coarse mustard.  Stir until thickened, about 2-3 minutes.  Toss in some coarsely-chopped curly parsley and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.

Serve over rye spaetzle or egg noodles.


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This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays