With the Holiday/Party season upon us I have resurrected a very old-fashioned appetizer with a new twist. It has both instant eye appeal and is exceptionally flavorful. It is rich in texture and in color. I found a Thai basil plant flowering purple at the farmer’s market and couldn’t resist it’s allure. You could use any stalky herb for this whether flowering or not. All you need is a thin baguette of french bread ( I used salted here for added flavor and visual texture) chicken livers, bacon, water chestnuts, Italian cipollini onions or pearl onions, and the herb of your choice, a little olive oil, and an oven preheated to 350′F
- 2 quarts boiling water
- A 2 quart bowl of cold water
- 1 quart light olive oil or vegetable, corn, canola, peanut or grapeseed oil for frying
- 1 pint chicken livers
- a pound or so, give or take, of American bacon strips
- 1 French baguette~1 1/2 -2″ diameter by about 18″, more or less
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- about 20 Italian cipollini onions or pearl onions
- about 20 slices of canned water chestnuts ( one large can or 3 small)
- Stalky herbs or long decorative tooth picks
- Blanche the onions in the boiling water until the skins begin to loosen, then remove them from the hot water with a slotted spoon or spider into the cold water. Let cool and peel the skin. Take the fuzzy end off with a sharp knife or scissor.
- Arrange the onions on a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer with spaces between them. Bake in a preheated 350′ oven, turning once, until they are golden brown and soft, about 15-20 minutes, depending on their size. The roasting will render them sweet and juicy. Toss them in a bowl with a little olive oil and let cool.
- Cut the chicken livers into bite sized chucks. In a skillet with 1/4 cup of olive oil saute the livers until they are browned and just firm, turning often. Do not over cook the livers or they will be dry and chalky. They still have another cooking step so they can be a little pink.
- Cut the bacon strips in half ( about 5-6 inch lengths) and wrap them around the liver chunks, and drained and dried water chestnut slices, securing them with tooth picks. In a deep skillet or pot, or if you have a fryer, add the wrapped liver and water chestnuts into the 375″ oil and fry until the bacon is crisp, less than 5 minutes.
- Cut the baguette into 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick rounds. Brush both sides of each slice with olive oil. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake until golden, about 3 – 5 minutes, turning once.
- Assemble the pieces starting with the toast on the bottom, a squished roasted onion next, and the bacon wrapped liver & water chestnuts, with tooth pick removed. Skewer the whole thing together with a long sharp skewer to make a hole for the woody herb or use long decorative tooth picks.
Makes about 20
Frying safety tips;
If you are using a skillet or pot over a gas flame, be sure to have a lid handy should you spill oil into the fire. If the pot ignites, quickly put the lid on and it. This extinguishes the fire immediately without the oxygen to fuel it. It is also advisable to always have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and a bowl of ice water standing by in case of burns. Any burn is quickly healed if it goes immediately into ice water. Never throw water onto an oil fire!