I was thumbing through a copy of Bon Appetit last week and caught sight of a editor note about a Bolognese recipe that used chicken livers. Chicken Livers? In a red sauce? The actual recipe was in an issue that had come out two months prior. Fortunately, I save all my issues for a year so I had no trouble tracking the recipe down. And there it was – Bolognese made with chicken livers. Before you click off this page in disgust, let me assure you there was beef, pork and spices involved as well. I am one of those people that like liver and my husband is a chicken liver pate fan so I figured I would give it a shot. The original recipe comes from Mike Easton of Il Corvo, this is my version. There are three components to this dish; the spice mix, the sauce itself and the assembly. And here’s a quick heads up – start this in the morning or you won’t be eating till midnight!
Spice mix for Bolognese Sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 whole cloves
- 2 tsp. fennel seeds
- 1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp black peppercorns
Most of the ingredients for the sauce . Missing are the milk, red wine vinegar and the peppers.
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 3 oz. chicken livers, rinsed and finely chopped
- 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, more for seasoning
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- 1/4 cup roasted red or green pepper, chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
- 1 14 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
- 1/3 cup red wine
- 1 1/4 lbs ground beef chuck (20 % fat)
- 1 lb ground pork shoulder
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 2 tbs red wine vinegar
- 12 oz fresh pappardelle
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup finely grated fresh parmesan cheese
Bolognese spice mix toasted and ground up.
Begin by assembling the spice mix. Toast the spices until fragrant, about 2 minutes, in a dry small skillet over medium heat. Toss often to prevent burning. Let cool, then finely grind in a spice mill or a coffee grinder dedicated to grinding spices. The spice mix will look like this when completed. Set aside
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat Add the chopped livers and stir to coat with oil. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are deeply browned 5 to 8 minutes. They should look almost burnt.
Add onion, thyme and peppers. (The original recipe calls for Peppadew peppers. I didn’t have any so I substituted the roasted peppers I had leftover from a dish I had made the previous night.) Stir to coat. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and browned, about 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Stir in spice mixture and 1/12 tsp salt.
Add the tomatoes and wine. Stir and scrape up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add meat and stir well. Add the milk and stir well to ensure everything is evenly coated. The mixture, as you can see, doesn’t look very appealing.
Bolognese ready for the oven.
Cover the pot with a lid, place it in the oven and bake for 6 hours. Yes, SIX hours.
Remove the pot from the oven and stir. The sauce will need to be pureed. You can do this in batches in a blender: the sauce will be very hot so take care not to overfill the blender. Or you can use an immersion blender – also referred by some chefs as a boat motor – to achieve the correct texture. I use an immersion blender – much easier to clean up.
To assemble the dish drain the pappardelle, reserving 1 1/2 cups pasta water. Place the cooked and drained pappardelle in a pan over medium heat with the butter and toss to coat. Add about 2 cups of the sauce and mix well. Add the cooking liquid as needed to create a sauce that coats the noodles.
Once again I was so anxious to eat that I forgot to take a picture of the completed dish. We did have leftover sauce so I may take one when we have the leftovers and just add it to this post. This sauce is so worth the time and effort. But don’t take my word for it – give it a try yourself. And an added bonus – the house smells great!
This dish can also be served with rigatoni. I asked George if he wanted rigatoni, which I already had in the pantry or pappardelle, which I had to make fresh. You can guess which he picked. Oh well, I was already into this dish for over 7 hours, what’s another hour to make fresh pasta!