One month ago today I flew home from Bologna. The first few days stateside really weren’t that bad. I had a little jet lag, but nothing bad. I was walking around in a bit of a daze, but at least I was sleeping at night. I immediatley went out to eat the things I had been missing-tacos and a really good burger. I did laundry, marveled at my purchases and then it started to hit me. I wasn’t in Italy anymore.
No daily cappuccino from my favorite bar. Forgot about the pasticcini too. I quickly made a batch of biscotti to try and make up for that. Of course I cooked some of the great dried pasta that I brought home, but there’s something to be said about eating it on the patio of a small trattoria with a charming young Italian as your server, rather than in your own dining room.
In my ongoing quest to keep Italy alive I am back in the kitchen trying to replicate some of my favorite dishes. It didn’t hit me until I got home but one thing I never got around to ordering was fegato-Tuscan chicken liver spread served on crostini. I adore this appetizer and am sharing the recipe that I use. Truth be told I feel like I should just jump on a plane head for Florence and order it, but for now this will have to do. Inspired by a meal at an osteria in the Oltrarno neighborhood of this city, I like to serve the fegato warmed slightly.
Chicken Liver Spread with Juniper Berries from Cucina Rustica
1 pound chicken livers
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 or 3 slices proscuitto, chopped
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
1 bay leaf
5 juniper berries, ground to a powder with a mortar & pestle (or in grinder)
1 large garlic clove, minced
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon capers
Clean and chop livers. Melt the butter with the olive oil in a skillet over very low heat. Add the chicken livers, prosciutto, sage, bay leaf, juniper berries, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes or until just cooked through. Let cool. Remove bay leaf. Chop very finely with a chef’s knife or in a food processor with steel blade, pulsing quickly. Turn into a small bowl. Garnish with capers. (I like to add the capers to the spread before it’s pulsed).