Thursday, June 12, 2014

IHCC: Budget-Friendly Dishes

There wasn't that much time this week to wander around looking for budget-friendly recipes. I did remember, though, that chicken livers were a significantly cheap menu item (about €1 for a tub that's more than enough for two people). I'm not actually a chicken liver fan, but DH loves them and I indulge him periodically.

In The 30-Minute Cook (which is currently my go-to book for those what-on-earth-am-I-going-to-cook-tonight moments), Slater has a section on chicken livers, with several good ideas. The recipe I chose was Chicken Livers with Vinegar and Onions (p201), which is a speeded-up version of a recipe of the same name from Paula Wolfert's The Cooking of Southwest France.

A problem was that I had no chicken livers in the freezer and there were none to be found at our primary grocery this week (both gizzards and hearts, gésiers et coeurs, were there aplenty). Today I asked DH to stop at another grocery following his choir practice to see if they had some livers. But I neglected to specify raw livers. He returned late, bringing a packet of ready-cooked livers in duck fat, making my theoretically cheap dinner somewhat more expensive at €2.50. So some quick changes were needed.

You start by slicing two onions thin, then sautéing them for 15 minutes in butter and olive oil until they're soft. (Since my livers came complete with duck fat, I reduced the butter here as much as I could.) Then add some chopped anchovies and sauté a bit longer. (In my rush, I forgot this step, but think it would make a nice addition. We're neither of us anchovy fans, but melted into a sauce like this they add a nice depth of taste. After the fishy smell has gone out the exhaust fan.)

Meanwhile, toss the livers with flour and sauté them in butter till golden on each side. I skipped this step and just added the livers, remvoing as much fat as possible, to the onions. Red wine vinegar is used to deglaze the chicken-liver-frying pan. After the livers were warm, I pushed them and the onions to one side and deglazed that pan, although there wasn't really much to deglaze. Finish the sauce with a knob of butter (I skipped this) and season with salt and pepper.

Slater suggests topping with a bit of chopped parsley and serving with toasted French bread. I used toasted French ciabattas. Does that count?

If I'd had raw chicken livers, this would have been a significantly cheap and tasty meal. Onions, butter, olive oil, flour, even parsley and anchovies, these are all found in the larder and add relatively little to the cost. Maybe it would have been €2 for the dish, plus another €2 perhaps for the ciabattas. (Yes, they're expensive, but they keep well in the freezer for when we're out of bread.)

I've added Wolfert's recipe to my short list, since I'm curious to see how this should really taste. Wolfert suggests serving this either a main or a starter.

Check this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs post to see how other people are being good to their budget.


  1. You are too funny! ;-) Even though it didn't turn out quite as budget-friendly as you hoped, it still looks like a satisfying and quick meal. (I too am not an anchovy fan until they have melted into the dish--at that point, I find them amazing.)

  2. eh....chicken livers. Okay. Hubs would really like them.

    Nice save, tho'.

  3. This dish looks good, even though I am not a fan of chicken livers! :)
    Budget or not, as long as the plate is clean, that is fine with me! Haha!

  4. Like you and Margaret, I'm not a fan of liver but have a husband who would enjoy this dish (and with anchovies and vinegar, I'd even give it a try).

  5. Gosh, I love chicken livers and I haven't had them for ages - I always forget what a budget friendly item they are. I'm not a huge onion fan, so I would probably sub in some leeks - I'm loving the sound of the anchovies though.