Chicken livers, once a frequent item on my short list of fast-cooking entrees, have been relegated to my ever-growing file of "special treats." As wonderful as they are with their velvety texture and sweet, meaty taste, chicken livers are high in cholesterol. So when they make their rare appearance at dinner, they rate a special recipe.
Risotto, which is open to as many interpretations as there are cooks, is a delicious vehicle for chicken livers. When the rice is slowly stirred and cooked with broth, it creates a creamy, sauce-like texture that complements the liver. It's a very rich, satisfying recipe.
However, I recently made the amazing discovery that this dish is just as delicious with a fraction of the fat and cholesterol if I eliminate the chicken livers. It has the earthy taste of mushrooms and the woodsy aroma of rosemary. And without the chicken livers it's lighter, but no less interesting.
RISOTTO WITH PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS AND CHICKEN LIVERS
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 pound chicken livers, trimmed of fat and halved, if large
1/2 pound portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 large shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/3 cup Madeira or dry Sherry
2 to 3 cups beef broth, boiling
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional
Freshly ground pepper
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large skillet. Add chicken livers and brown on all sides over medium-high heat, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter to skillet. Add mushrooms, shallot and garlic and cook over medium heat until mushrooms are golden, about 5 minutes. Add rice and rosemary and saute 1 minute. Add Madeira and cook over high heat until liquid evaporates.
Reduce heat to medium. Stir in 1/2 cup beef broth. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is almost dry, about 5 minutes. Add another 1/2 cup broth and repeat process. It should take about 5 minutes for broth to be soaked up by rice. (If it is much faster, reduce heat. If too slow, increase heat.) For third time, add 1/2 cup beef broth and cook until liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. Add another 1/2 cup broth and cook 5 minutes.
Taste rice. If tender with slightest firmness in center, it is done. Otherwise add another 1/2 cup broth and cook 5 minutes. Test again. Repeat with remaining broth if necessary.
When rice is tender, return chicken livers to skillet and heat through. Sprinkle with walnuts. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.