Tommy DeVito: Hey, what do you like, the leg or the wing, Henry? Or ya still go for the old hearts and lungs?
Henry Hill: [Vomiting] Oh, that’s so bad!
Despite Michael being the resident meat-lover in our household, I’m the offal enthusiast. I can’t get enough of the so-called nasty bits, and I think this has something to do with the fact that my grandmom would always let me have the various turkey giblets when she would roast a turkey, and I’d happily snack on a lung or heart with abandon. These days I naturally gravitate towards any offal tacos I find at a taqueria, but can usually only look with longing at the many recipes in our cookbooks that feature things like chicken liver or tripe because someone doesn’t like the smell/taste. (To be fair, this is how I feel about broccoli. Nasty stuff, that is.)
This means I am usually Tommy DeVito to Michael’s Henry Hill, and I’ll admit I enjoy quoting the line above with the same amount of glee that Joe Pesci does in Goodfellas. Related: that is an excellent movie.
I’ve tried making seared liver with a balsamic vinegar sauce as a way to get Michael more enthusiastically onto the offal train, but that was too strong for him. But when I saw a recipe in The Book of Tapas for a tortilla that called for chopped liver and mushrooms cooked with a little white vermouth, I felt like I was finally on to something. Tuesdays have become my night to cook during the week, and as such, I can cook anything I want–and after convincing Michael that this would be more up his alley then eating them straight, I knew I had a Tuesday night dinner that would convince him that liver is a fantastic thing to eat.
I also had some jamón serrano and pan con tomate as backup in case he absolutely hated it.
Was it successful? I’d say yes–it was fast to bring together and all of the flavors played nicely in the sandbox. The liver flavor wasn’t masked, of course, but with other things going on it wasn’t quite as intense, and that felt like a victory to me more than anything. All told, this was a dish that easily cost less than $5/person to make–even with NYC metro-area prices–and if you omit the jamón, adding the pan con tomate serves as an ideal side for the price of a baguette, a tomato, and a head of garlic you will only need one or two cloves for this application.
A humble dish, but a rich and satisfying one all the same.
Chicken Liver Tortilla
From The Book of Tapas
- 1 oz mushrooms (cremini), stemmed and sliced thinly
- Juice of one lemon
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 oz chicken livers, trimmed of cartilage and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon dry white vermouth
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 eggs, beaten
- Kosher salt and pepper
As odd as this sounds, you first want to wash the mushrooms with the lemon and a little bit of water. I sliced them first and then washed them as I wanted to get rid of the dirt, but then I let them sit in the lemon juice. Take a small skillet and melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and liver, stir occasionally, and cook until the mushrooms have given up most of their water. Then, stir in the parsley and cook for another minute before you add the vermouth. Add some salt and pepper, let the vermouth cook down a little bit, and then remove from heat but keep warm. (Since I used the same pan to cook the livers and the eggs, I dumped the former into a bowl and covered it with a plate.)
When you beat the eggs, make sure you season them with some kosher salt. In the meantime, use a 10-inch nonstick pan to heat up two tablespoons of olive oil on high heat and swill around. You’re then going to tip the eggs into the pan and then try to pull the eggs out so they don’t turn into a clumpy mess using a spatula, but this is actually easier than it sounds. You’re going to cook this until the underside is set and lightly browned (use a nice, flat, thin rubber spatula to make sure everything is loose and that said underside is browned). Carefully add the liver/mushroom mixture to the center of the pan, fold over the tortilla, transfer to a plate, and then serve immediately.