Up until September, the food I could prepare amounted to army "cooking" (i.e. manipulating canned food, frying canned meatloaf [Richard Levy!], stealing ready food from the mess hall), making a basic tomato-cucumber-and-onion salad (nicely cut, though), and heating up ready-made food. If pressed, I could produce reasonable French fries and a basic scrambled egg.
But now I cook! I started out modest, perfecting my Famous Tuna Salad, but last night I made arnulf and myself a real dish: Cognac chicken livers with fried onion. Sure, it's not a very complicated dish or anything, but I actually prepared it, A to Z! kritzit provided the theory, but the execution is all mine.
My mom would have probably risked a minor cardiac arrest if she were to see me cleaning the raw liver I bought. I had never touched raw meat before. Surprisingly, I did not feel a great aversion or anything; I simply began preparing the dish... I actually enjoyed the whole thing, too! New experiences, I tell you.
More surprisingly yet, it came out yummy! I suspect it was beginner's luck, but I managed to keep the liver very tender, and to apply seasoning with gusto but did not exaggerate. J loved it. He only complained that he's too stuffed for seconds. I waved that aside, naturally, and he ate his seconds like the good moose that he is.
I foresee adventures ahead.
Ijon's Cognac Chicken Liver
- 400g to 500g fresh chicken liver
- 1 large onion
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 3 spoonfuls of Cognac
- fresh-ground black pepper
- powdered dry garlic
- fresh-ground chili pepper
- hot paprika
Instructions (simple enough for beginners like me; forgive the verbosity if this is obvious to you:
- Prepare a dry mixture of seasoning to roll the liver in: take a large bowl and grind some black pepper and chili pepper into it. arnulf and I firmly believe there is no such thing as "too much garlic/pepper", but your palate may disagree, so figure out your own quantities in preparing the mixture. Add the dry garlic powder and a smidgen of paprika, too. Mix these in the bowl well.
- Cut the onion to slices, cut each slice in half, and then separate its rings from each other. No need to cut these any smaller. Cut up the garlic cloves as well, but save them for later. Heat some oil in a large frying pan or a skillet, and put the onions in (not the garlic). Fry these on a low flame while you do other things. Remember to check up on them!
- Take the chicken liver (if you kept it frozen [you shouldn't], thaw it before starting this whole thing) and put it in a different large bowl. Take a cutting board or just work off the bowl, and use a sharp knife to clean the livers. You want to remove the white stringy things clinging to it, as well as the dark red spots on some of the pieces (those are congealed hemorrhages, if you must know). This should 10-15 minutes. Remember to check up on the onions!
- When the livers are clean, drop them into the seasoning bowl and roll them in it nicely. If you realize now that there is too little substance to nicely touch up the livers, add some seasoning. The idea is to keep most of the seasoning from sticking to one piece, but it's okay to have minor adjustments.
- By now you should have nice, soft, onions in the pan. Ensure that there is sufficient oil in the pan, and drop the livers into it. Now follow their progress closely. Getting them nice and tender requires good timing. Keep to a low-to-medium flame, and stir them around with a wooden spoon or equivalent. When the livers lose their red-brown color and become pinkish-beige, add the diced garlic. If you don't like encountering distinct bits of garlic with your food, cut it up very small. We like our garlic!
- Add the Cognac to the pan (don't do it earlier or it would evaporate too soon), stir, and keep watching.
- As soon as the liver pieces are just about to lose their pinkish hue, take 'em out. If you want to get it just right, give individual attention to each piece, and take it out when its time has come.
- To really appreciate this, eat as soon as all the pieces are ready!