Cast-Iron Chicken Liver Toast with Woodford Reserve, Spiced Pecans, and Mint
Yields 6 servings
from Executive Chef Levon Wallace of Proof on Main in Louisville, Kentucky
1 cup pecan halves
2 tablespoons melted butter
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of cayenne
A few grinds of black pepper
1-2 teaspoon flaked salt, such as malden
1 pound organic chicken livers
Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ small onion, julienned
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
2 ounces decent bourbon (Don’t bust out the 20 year. Good ol’ Monday-Friday bourbon will do fine.)
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons butter
Grilled, thick cut levain or country-style bread
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Extra virgin olive oil (optional)
Aged balsamic vinegar (optional)
More flake salt and cracked pepper
To make spiced pecans, pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all ingredients (except salt) in a small bowl and toss to combine. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment and toast until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Coarsely chop nuts and sprinkle with salt.
For livers, rinse in a colander under cold running water for a minute. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Blot livers dry and season generously with sea salt and pepper.
Heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until just about smoking. Carefully add chicken livers, onions, and garlic in thin and even layer. Resist the temptation to stir, allow the livers and onions to brown, about 1 minute.
Once caramelized on one side, turn chicken livers over and stir onions, reduce heat to medium. Slowly add bourbon and ignite with a long match or stick lighter. Reduce bourbon until almost evaporated, about 1 minute.
Add herbs and butter and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook an additional 1-2 minutes or until livers are medium of slightly pink on the center. Remove from heat, remove herbs and transfer contents to a food processor. Pulse 1-2 times to give livers a rough chop. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
Place chicken livers on slices of grilled levain or country bread.
Garnish with freshly parsley, mint, and grated lemon zest. A generous drizzle of good olive oil—a few drops of aged balsamic vinegar are nice with this as well.
Sprinkle the liver toast with a little more sea salt and some cracked pepper.