10.28.2007

The Wretched Leaf

Howdy All!
True I haven't been by for a while but I am still here. Finding a few minutes to sit down has been a challenge, but rest assured - I am still cooking my lil heart out.

Here is a little secret - I had never had arugula until about a month ago. Lisa at Restaurant Widow shared a week of her CSA with me back in September. One of the items was a big bag of strange looking leaves. Tony sniffed them and said," I think we are ok - they appear to be legal." After making a huge salad - I was hooked. Maybe Tony was wrong. Maybe we weren't ok - because for every day of the following week I had a craving for the mysterious leaf. I suspected it was Arugula - a weed from Italy that had already addicted hundred of thousands in Europe and the US. Dammit - here I thought I was safe but nooooooooooo - I craved it like all the others....

So I did the rehab program - you know the one - the program where they try to "Americanize" your taste buds. The first thing the clinic tried was a iceberg lettuce salad drenched with Kraft Italian. The waitress (read "Nurse Wretched") watched while I choked it down... she kept asking if I was sure I didn't need any more dressing.It was horrible - I still have nightmares. When I read the menu for the second day, I knew I had to escape. More of the same salad but with "croutons", Banquet pot pies and instant mashed taters. I used the remains of the dressing to corrode the bars to my "suite" and made off into the night....


In an attempt to get my next fix, I came early to the last installment of the Worthington Farmers' Market. Yes! Yes!! It was there!!! I bought my new favorite in two forms - the first was small tender leaves for eating raw and the second was in a mix of larger greens which were labeled as "braising" greens. Oh fraptious day!


Now - what to eat with my green leafy fix? Hmmmmmm....
Taking a cue from one of my heroes, Fergus Henderson, I decided that I would pair a simple salad of arugula dressed with red wine vinegar, olive oil and kosher salt with chicken livers dredged in seasoned flour and pan fried in bacon fat. The richness of the livers would be cut by the peppery vinegar bite of the salad - just like the richness of marrow bones is cut by his signature parsley salad.

See - even an old dog can learn something once in a while....


I used to never eat chicken livers either. I learned to love the dark slick morsels when I was waiting tables. One of the cooks, Henrietta, told me she was going to make me a special breakfast the next day because the boss had been busting my chops all week. The next morning she whipped up corn bread, greens cooked with bacon and chicken livers. It was the best. I learned how to cook the greens and livers from her the next morning. So worth getting my ass chewed out.

This is basically her recipe:
Clean the livers - take off any stringy stuff (veins or what have you). Dip them in seasoned flour (I use seasoned salt, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper and a little onion powder in mine.) Melt some bacon fat in the pan over medium high heat, Throw in your livers, making sure not to crowd them.

A note about chicken livers. Please do not over cook them. There is nothing worse than dried out liver. Cook until just a little too pink on the inside and take them off the heat. The carry over will finished them to a perfect pale pink on the inside.
The stuff that dreams are made of....

Here is a picture of my lunch from Saturday. I served it with crusty bread and sweet tea.


So thank you Lisa for sharing you goodies with me - I have a new favorite dish!

Now that you all know how daring I am - tune in tomorrow to see just how daring I am going to get!!

3 comments:

joanne said...

Wow. I do NOT like chicken livers, but your description and the picture is making me salivate! Nice going! I've loved arugula since using it in one of the restaurants I worked at - delicious!

Rosie said...

Joanne -

All I have to say is two words - Bacon Fat.

Makes all the difference.

Kathleen Valentine said...

I hope my life never gets so rigid that it doesn't include bacon....