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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Czech liver gravy with rosemary

Chicken livers in rosemary gravy

We had posted a recipe for liver chilli fry before, and back then I had mentioned a liver dish that I had eaten during my stay in the Czech Republic a few years ago. I was staying with an old friend that I used to work with, and his wife made dinner one night that was so simple, and as is often the case when it is so simple – utterly delicious. What’s that? Lies, you say! Liver can’t possibly be delicious! Oh, but it can. This dish hugged me from the inside, because it’s very much like comfort food. I asked her for the recipe, which she graciously shared, and to my surprise - nay, shock - it contained soy sauce. I know. Soy sauce! A genius addition, I thought. So let’s get started, and you too, can be in on this soy sauce sorcery.


As is my absent-minded way, not all ingredients are pictured. 

1 pound of chicken livers, cleaned and trimmed of fat
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
Rosemary, enough to give you a heaped half tablespoon when chopped
1 pint chicken stock, homemade or a good market brand
Soy sauce, 3-4 tablespoons
2 tbs flour
Olive oil
Butter, salted, 1 tablespoon
Parsley, chopped

We had purchased our chicken livers from a local farm, and I don’t know if they do a really good job of cleaning their livers, or if they just keep their chickens really healthy (which they do), but these livers didn’t need much cleaning and barely had fat to trim. 

See? Quite clean already. 

The first thing to do is add some olive oil and the butter to a deep, wide pan. I used our large cast iron pan. Bring the heat up to medium-high. Season the livers with salt and pepper, and then carefully place the chicken livers in the pan to sear them. Be careful. These things can splutter and head straight for your eyeball. You don’t want to cook them through completely, just long enough to get a nice brown sear, about 30 seconds-1 minute per side. Once they are all done, remove the livers and keep aside in a bowl. 

You will have a few fried liver bits remaining in the pan, this is good. Add the chopped onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper. Sautee until the onions are translucent.



That's right. Deglaze. Add the soy sauce and use it to deglaze the pan. Pick up all those yummy liver and onion bits. My friend had mentioned that some people use red wine at this stage, which you can, but she accidentally discovered that soy sauce imparted a better, earthy, slightly twangy flavor with just a touch more depth. I’ve often added soy sauce to stir fried dishes, as one does, 
but never to deglaze. It just never occurred to me to do so. 
In a Czech liver dish, no less. 

Once deglazing is complete, and the soy sauce has been cooked off, add the flour and stir. Cook for a another couple of minutes, stirring often.
Once it looks like this, add the chopped rosemary and then....

......Add most of the pint of chicken stock. Note that you can always add more a little later, and adjust the consistency to your liking. Stir, season according to taste with salt (you might not even need salt at this point) and pepper.

Lower the heat to medium, and let it simmer and reduce. 

After a few minutes (10, maybe?), or once you notice it start to thicken, add the seared livers back into the pan. 

Continue to cook on medium heat until the livers are done, which shouldn’t take too long if you’re going for a slightly pink center. I’m not good with timing this yet, so I usually give it a few minutes, slice open one of the livers to gauge where it is, and go from there. This is what I usually shoot for. Just don't overcook it or it'll be like chewing rubbers.

Panda: You're 'Murican now! Don't need none of that communist talk.

I mean, erasers. 

As it cooks, it will develop a rich, dark hue. It's ready at this point, so turn off the heat and add some freshly chopped parsley to make it purty. 

I made a loaf of crusty bread to have with the dish. 

We also had some peas and carrots on the side. 
Because, fiber.

And there you have it. I'm really grateful to have experienced this dish. Hands down, one of my top five favorite international culinary experiences of all time. 

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