Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Steaming Grey Meat Sludge Breakfast

Listen, I'm really really broke right now, like "steal twenty bucks from your girlfriend to get to work" broke. The good news is that I am employed, and I've got a job with great perks. That's right, I work at the Union Square Greenmarket. Market freebies make being broke tolerable, a little more "French peasant" and a little less "crushing urban privation." Anyways, yesterday, down to my last few dollars for the third time in a week, I was chatting with the duck folks. They mentioned they had a ton of duck liver that wasn't selling. I saw that the regular price was a half pound for 4 bucks, and guessing they would give me like half off I asked for a half pound. They gave me a whole POUND for FREE! I blew the last of my cash on a discounted artisinal baguette and finished out the day. The plan; Duck Liver Pate!

I did a couple quick smartphone recipe searches (I know, I know, broke with smartphone, it's terrible I know) to get an idea of whether I needed anything. The basic recipes called for liver, herbs, duck fat, shallots and garlic. A couple recipes called for adding cognac or armagnac, which, hah, no fucking way I'm buying cognac right now. Everything else I had at home, including a couple ounces of duck fat I had rendered off of some discounted duck legs a few months ago.

The livers were kind of gross to clean; there's weird connective tissue you have to pull off and occasionally a blood vessel will burst and suddenly things get surprisingly bloody, but the stuff that comes off is a real treat for the dog. Once the prep is done it's a pretty easy process, melt the fat (you could also use butter or lard, of course), soften the shallots, then throw in the garlic and herbs and the livers and cook for a couple minutes on each side, deglaze the pan with a little booze (I used a couple teaspoons of Dolin sweet vermouth, but you could use cognac [you rich piece of shit] or sherry, port or brandy), pour it all in the blender, buzz it, let cool and refrigerate for a couple hours. Easy.

A couple gross things that happened: When the livers were in the pan the heat got too high for a minute and I'm guessing blood vessels deep inside the liver started to burst. The lobes, which were turning grayish, would make this little popping sound and quiver a little bit. One lobe popped so hard that it jumped about three inches and a spurt of maroon/gray something hit me in the face and sort of slid down my glasses lense. Later, after the first couple seconds in the blender I opened up the lid and looked down into a steaming mass of gray sludge. When I stirred it with the wooden spoon it made slurpy/sucking noises.

I let it cool and put it in a shallow tupperware thing in the fridge for the night. This morning I melted a little butter in the skillet and threw in a couple of slices of baguette and two eggs. I cooked the eggs over very very easy, and just sprinkled a little salt and pepper and rosemary on top. I spread the liver on the toast and ate the shit out of all of it, dipping the toasts in the rich yolk as it ran out onto the plate. I felt like a fat king. You should also know that I've had about three more pate toasts while I've been sitting here typing this up. If you're reading this today, get in touch with me NOW and maybe you can come over and have some, I doubt it will survive in this house more than a day or two.

In summary, this was a rare poor man's treat, the whole thing costing me less than 5 dollars for what will be several meals. But even without the freebies, you could make this for under 20. Here's where everything came from. Incedentally, these purveyors are the ones I consider to be the best in each category.

Duck Liver: Hudson Valley Duck at Union Square Mondays
Garlic: Anthony Road Winery at Union Square Saturdays
Shallots: Don't Remember
Sage, Thyme and Rosemary: Keith's Farm at Union Square Wednesdays
Baguette: Buon Pane at Union Square Mondays
Eggs: Knoll Krest at Union Square Wednesday and Saturday

other ingredients
Vermouth: Dolin Sweet
Salt and Pepper