Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Low-Fat Fegatini

Fegatini [little livers] is an Italian chicken liver pâté, usually made by pureeing the liver with onions and butter and marsala wine... which didn't really sound like anything I'd want to eat until JG and I stumbled upon this fantastic mousse at Mulberry in Austin. We used to eat there on my Tuesdays off, and we'd get the fegatini at least twice a month. As it came time to leave Austin, we realized we were going to have figure out how to make it ourselves.Liver pâtés usually need a lot of butter to emulsify, to give it a creamy quality. A mousse requires additional heavy cream to incorporate air for a lighter texture... but just like folding in whipped cream, it's not "lite." It's one thing to order a dollop, it's something else entirely to have a tub of it in my fridge.

My silken chocolate pie gave JG an idea -- an idea sure to offend tofu lovers and pâté lovers alike.... Silken Fegatini: glorious, glorious tofu-liver.
It's been weeks now since I've had the fegatini at Mulberry and I'm sure Zach's would still win in a side-by-side tasting, BUT compared to a standard recipe this stuff is obscenely healthy. Low-fat, high protein... nutritionally dense... instead of a little dab on a toast point, you can actually slather this on a sandwich. It's a rich, meaty, guilt-free indulgence. Can you tell I'm excited?

Recipe: Silken Fegatini

The mousse sets as it chills. The butter isn't absolutely necessary, but that little bit at the end brings the flavor profile much closer to the original.

8 oz chicken liver, trimmed, rinsed, patted dry, and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1/2 cup brandy, divided use (or 1/4 cup brandy, 1/4 marsala)
2 tablespoons butter
6 oz firm silken tofu

high quality balsamic vinegar
good honey
toasted bread, pita, or crackers

In a large skillet over low heat, pan fry shallots in olive oil until lightly golden brown ~8 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add liver [a spatter guard is handy] stirring frequently until browned and just cooked through, then transfer meat to the bowl of a blender or food processor.

Add half of the brandy (1/4 cup) to the skillet and scrape to deglaze the pan. Once liquid is almost completely gone, add remaining brandy or marsala, turn off heat, and pour liquid into the liver container, making sure to scrape all the flavorful goodness from the pan. Puree until mostly smooth, scrape down the sides of the bowl, add butter and tofu, and puree further until completely smooth, scraping down bowl once or twice more as you go.

Transfer to an airtight container and chill. To serve, scoop with a small ice cream scoop and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and honey and serve with toast points, pita, or crackers.

Serving for a party:
Select a nicely shaped bowl or dish [I often use the cover of my butter dish], line with plastic wrap, fill, cover and chill. Turn out onto a decorative plate, remove plastic, and dress as above.

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