Rep Note:
Chicken Livers and Wild Rice
17 April 2019

Here’s the crazy thing: I know I didn’t make this up. I got it from somewhere. I could have sworn that the idea came from either Judith Jones’s little book about cooking for one or the Guarnaschelli Joy of Cooking, but there’s not a hint of it in either, not under “chicken livers” and not under “wild rice.” What made me think that the two belong together — which they certainly do? 

In addition to being tasty, it’s a Chinese prep dinner dish, ideal for weeknights. Aside from one long-simmering ingredient (rice), everything is sliced, minced, soaked or otherwise dealt with in the ten minutes before heating the skillet, and set aside in its own small bowl. The counter has a tidied-up air before cooking even begins! (And of course the bowls go straight into the dishwasher.) Cooking itself is boom-boom-boom. Done. 

When it’s time to eat, heat up a regular skillet (not non-stick) and melt some butter. Toss in four quartered mushroom caps and sauté them until — is there a word for what happens to mushrooms when they have absorbed all the fat they can take and begun to exude water? — then. Turn up the heat a bit and add three or four halved livers, from which the white cords have been removed, and cook them, turning often, until they have browned nicely. (I added some more butter.) Stir in a  mixture of minced shallot and parsley — you decide how much; I use a small shallot and the leaves from two parsley sprigs — and cook for a minute or less. Then pour in a measure of dry white wine, to deglaze the pan. (Scrape up all the brown bits until the bottom of the pan is clean and “slidey” again. ) Correct the seasoning. Finally, toss in four or five sliced grape tomatoes. When the wine has reduced to the thickness of a sauce, spoon the livers onto piles of hot wild rice and serve.

I think you’ll find that in order to follow this recipe you’ll have to make it your own first, either by printing it and marking it up or recreating it with a standard ingredients list (“four quartered mushroom caps”). It’s very simple, but you’ll have to figure out for yourself why it’s simple. (Perhaps you don’t find mincing shallots and parsley “simple.” I use a mezzaluna.) How much is “a measure of wine”? In this case, it was all that was left at the bottom of a bottle of Sancerre. (There was just enough, but if there had been less, I could have added some water.) I myself can hardly explain how I stood over the stove working with all the assurance that comes from having made a dish countless times — when in fact I had just “made it up.” (I do have a lingering question: should the livers have been cooked before the mushrooms, or perhaps together with them?)

Since it’s standard to cook a cup of wild rice at a time, I have lots left over. It’s all going to go into a salad for Easter luncheon — rice, plumped currants, grapes, and I don’t know what else.  

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