Chicken liver and sage ragu

My most recent ‘Single Minded’ recipe for Borough Market features a super quick ragu made from a very economical ingredient: chicken livers. Also some fancy wild mushrooms, but only a very small amount.

I used the frilly ribbon pasta known as mafalde, but this would be great with tagliatelle, taglierini or rigatoni. TBH orecchiette, penne, whatever.

Also this assumes fresh pasta (as that was one of the themes of my piece). Of course you can use dried pasta. But if so, get that cooking at the point you begin the ragu, not half-way through as suggested below.

Chicken liver, sage and trompette de la mort mafalde

Serves 1

  • 150g fresh chicken livers
  • 1 small banana (echalion) shallot, finely sliced
  • 30g butter
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 sprigs of sage
  • 35g trompette de la mort
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 70g full fat creme fraiche
  • 30g freshly grated Parmesan
  • 120g fresh mafalde pasta

Put a saucepan-full of salted water on to boil.

Trim off any bits of fat from the livers and rinse in cold water, pat dry, cut each into 4 pieces and set to one side. Pick the leaves (probably 4-6) from one of the sage sprigs.

Place a medium-sized heavy-bottomed frying pan over a medium heat (about 6 or 7 on your hob) and add the butter, the shallots and a pinch of salt and sweat them in the melting butter for 1 minute.

Create a little space in the pan and add the sage leaves, allowing them to cook and crisp alongside the onions for another 2 minutes.

Remove the sage leaves and set to one side, add the mushrooms and cook with the onions for 1 minute more, stirring once or twice. Turn the heat up (to about an 8), add the chicken livers and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring frequently to ensure the livers are browning but nothing burns.

Meanwhile, add the pasta to your boiling water — assuming you’ve bought fresh pasta it will only take a couple of minutes.

Once the livers have been in for 2 minutes, add the creme fraiche, the garlic, the remaining 2 sprigs of sage and then a ladle-full of pasta cooking water. Let this bubble away for 2 minutes more. Drain the pasta, reserving the cooking water, then add the pasta into the frying pan, 2/3 of the Parmesan and lots of black pepper. Toss and mix well, then transfer everything to a plate or pasta bowl, finishing the dish with more Parmesan and the crisp sage leaves.

The leftovers

Fresh pasta — assuming you’ve fed only yourself from a 240g pack, you will have another portion left over. It’ll still be ‘fresh’ for a good few days. Enjoy it as you see fit! (though nb the creme fraiche note below)

Sage — the rest of the bunch is possibly the hardest of this recipes shopping list to get through. But if you crisp them with butter and eat with eggs and / or mushrooms at the weekend, or throw into a roasting tin for the last 5-10 minutes of roasting squash or potatoes, or drop the rest into a batch of dried beans while you cook them … I’m confident you can get through without waste.

Creme fraiche — if you bought a small tub you will have about half remaining (or more, if bigger). This will still last a number of days in the fridge, and can prompt a second pasta sauce for the week (leeks and lardons?), or be spooned next to a cheeky mid-week dessert of stewed rhubarb or apples or similar.

Parmesan — plenty of potential for (and time to use) this.