January 05, 2015

So Parfait

People often deduce that because I am someone who adores food I must also be a whiz in the kitchen. I can see how the two would go hand in hand, like a squeeze of lemon over a dish of hot off the grill chorizo or butter with, well anything. That assumption would be incorrect though. I avoid cooking as much as I possibly can to the extent that friends have questioned if I ever eat at home. Yes I do, but when I must cook for my survival I want something quick and easy so it's often a bunch of various vegetables and fish or meat protein thrown into the oven while I busy myself doing something more interesting. This isn't to say I can't cook. I can, and I can do it fairly well. I just don't want to. 

The holiday season is one exception to my avoidance of the kitchen. Having a number of days free to do as I please, I don't mind spending more time than usual in the kitchen. Friends of mine are aware of this and know that during the Christmas and New Year period I will no doubt present myself at their parties armed with something I've cooked up myself. 

I have a tradition of making a tiramisu for New Year's Eve celebrations. I wanted to set myself a new challenge this year. Actually last year. It's 2015 now! I promised friends that I would bring duck liver parfait to one of our Christmas dinner parties. My friends and I are just crazy for duck liver parfait so I had set myself a very high bar to clear. 

After viewing a few recipes, I appropriated bits and pieces from various sources. Some were quite involved with many ingredients, others were very basic. I made one to my liking somewhere in the middle. The end result?

Delicious. Very rich and creamy whilst still maintaining a slight mineral flavour of the duck livers. I was chuffed. My friends were impressed. We shoved it into our mouths on crisp breads accompanied with quince paste. It was a good day. Parfait, in fact. Recipe is below so you can make it for yourself. 

A pack of duck liver. I purchased a 500 gram pack from Mondo Meats. You could use chicken liver if you cannot find duck. 
2 or 3 golden shallots. 
3 gloves of garlic. 
250 gram pack of unsalted butter. Choose a good quality butter.
Half to one cup of good quality cream. 
A handful of thyme sprigs.
Verjuice. I used Maggie Beer as it was the easiest to find. 
Salt and pepper to taste.  

Peel the shallots and thinly slice. Finely chop the peeled garlic gloves and separate the thyme from its stalk. 

Cut about that much of your butter and gently cook the shallots, garlic and thyme in the butter. Use a low heat so it doesn't get too dark. You want it all to get nice and soft.

Remove from heat once done and put aside. 

Trim your livers if needed but it should mostly come good to go. Cook it in the same pan using about the same amount of butter for a few minutes only. By now you should have gone through almost half of your butter. 

I like to cook it until it gets a nice colour and then turn over for the same to happen on the other side. I would say about 2 minutes each side. Remove from heat once done. 

Don't clean out the pan you have used! Deglaze it with a good slosh of the verjuice, scraping the pan to remove all the yummy bits. 

Turn off the heat at this point and put it all into a food processor - the onion and shallot mix, the livers and pour in the verjuice. 

Start whizzing the life out of it. Process until smooth. I stop every now and then to combine with a spoon and then start again to ensure it's evenly processed. 

You want to get the mixture as smooth as possible. Once you get to this point add the remaining butter and season to taste. I used truffle salt instead of regular salt just to give an extra bit of flavour to the parfait. 

Process again until smooth and then start to add the cream in small amounts. Start with a quarter cup and then assess its consistency. You don't want to add too much that it's too runny but it shouldn't be one solid mass either. I used half a cup of cream in total. 

At this point, the mixture should be pretty smooth so processing it now is just to work the cream through. 

Once done, work the mixture through a siege into your containers. This will remove the lumps and make it delightfully smooth. 

I filled two 250mL glass jars. Just to be fancy, I decorated with a crack of black pepper and a thyme sprig. 

Refrigerate for at least a few hours, and eat it within a week. 

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