Monday, 1 October 2012

Chicken liver, parsley and walnut salad with warm mustard vinaigrette

Bit poncy sounding eh? Well I went to Waitrose this week, so I've gone up in the world.

I bloody love that place. I think I've got a serious problem (but they say the first step of addressing a problem is admitting it, so IN YOUR FACE, PROBLEM).  For the first year of living in Norfolk I'd managed to keep its location secret from myself - refusing to google the exact spot - but then, the other day, I came across it by accident.  UH OH.  Immediately I started itching for their fine selection of cured meats, jovial customer service and easy car parking. Turns out it's right on my way home from our Cambridge office - "Splendid", says my bank manager!

I fell off the Waitrose wagon and I fell off it hard.  In I turn, into a car parking space which doesn't make me embarrass myself.  I cruise through the door, smiling at all the pleasant, non-harassed looking people, and I thank the lords that I am wearing a lanyard and a Barbour, as apparently those are THE THINGS to wear in Waitrose at 6pm on a Thursday.  I grab a trolley (first mistake, ALWAYS just get a basket), off I speed, and then.....then I spend all of the fucking money. 

It was meant to be a post-work dash - looking for a simple dinner - but I came out sixty quid lighter and severely lacking in dinner.  What I did purchase was:
Edamame and wasabi dip
Vacuum packed chestnuts
Iberico ham
Very smelly cheese
Umami dust
Organic chicken livers

It's like Dr Jekyl and Mrs Hyde, but instead of turning into a murderous monster, I turn into a frivolous, gun-ho, food ponce. To bring things back to earth, my evening ended with me sat on the sofa with a bag of grated cheese (left-over from a work thing, I should add; I may be a lazy fat arse but I draw the line at pre-grated cheese), as I had neglected to buy actual dinner.

The thing is, if you just stuck to doing the regular shop, I don't think it'd cost you much more than Tesco - and you'd hate yourself less - it's just there's so much good stuff to tempt you, which you don't have to worry about in the lesser supermarkets.  The two big things in Waitrose's favour, however - when trying to justify my devastation of the joint account - are: 1. Their general more ethical approach (they stock decent quality, free-range meat/they treat their staff well/they sell more British produce) and 2. They really know how to reduce stuff; if it's approaching sell-by it comes down to about a quarter of the price. They also don't sell milk from badger culling farms, so me shopping there is basically solving all of the world's problems. 

The main crux of the issue is that I really can't afford to be going to Waitrose right now, as we happen to be buying a house.  I  realise when I said in my last post that we 'own' a pub, it might have sounded like we're terribly rich, but far from it, we only lease the building for that, don't own it.  This house will be the first stack of bricks that Ben and I have ever owned and the mortgage will probably outlive us both. I can't work out whether it's terribly exciting or absolutely terrifying, but the one thing it definitely is is expensive, so I really shouldn't be dicking about in Waitrose. 

The one meal worthy thing that I bought on this ill fated trip was the chicken livers. Now me and liver haven't always seen eye-to-eye.  Lamb's liver is still a definite no. But chicken livers, it comes and goes. When I was strolling through the aisles of Waitrose I thought, 'Hell yeah, I'm the sort of person who likes chicken livers!'.  When I got home and had to eat them I wasn't so sure. That's not to say that this dish isn't good, you just need to definitely like liver - there's no sitting on the fence with this one.

Chicken liver, walnut and parsley salad with warm mustard vinaigrette

Chicken livers (generally you'll get a pack which'll serve 4 for a starter, 2-3 for a main, but you can tell by looking how much you want)
1/2 a finely sliced red onion
Handful of walnuts
About 20g butter
4tbsp olive oil/rapeseed oil
2tbsp white wine vinegar
1tbsp dijon mustard
Small bunch of parsely
Salad leaves

Firstly, fry your walnuts in a dry pan for about a minute, until they are starting to brown, then put to one side.

Melt the butter in a pan and gently fry the livers, about 1-2 minutes each side, depending on how rare you want them. Put to the side to rest. In a seperate pan, heat your oil.  Now when I say heat, you just want to warm it up, as if you get it really hot (as I did), you'll have an oil explosion when you add the vinegar.  Once warm, add your vinegar, then dijon mustard and whisk until incorporated and you have a nice glossy dressing.  Add seasoning.

Make a bed of salad and parsley leaves, plonk the livers on top, scatter with walnuts and onion and drizzle over the dressing.

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