If I was feeling really motivated and focused, I'd pretend that this is the first in a monthly series of recipes, with suggested beer matches thrown in. However, I can't imagine for a second that I will actually get around to doing this once a month, but the other evening I pulled off this tasty, hearty meal, and dug out a couple of great beers to go with it.
The beers that I tried with this are Greene King Strong Suffolk Vintage, and Orval. Both have an earthy quality to them that works well with the hearty nature of the chicken liver and cabbage. The tartness of the Strong Suffolk marries up with the earthy flavours, and the sweetness of the onions brings out the sweetness in the beer. The peppery dryness of the Orval works against the richness of the dish, cutting through nicely, but still bringing out the earthy flavours. I've said earthy a lot there, but I can't think of a better adjective to describe the wholesome, wintry goodness of this.
Ingredients: 2 medium onions, 2 rashers bacon (I used green back, but collar or streaky would be fine), 400g chicken livers, 5 or 6 large Savoy cabbage leaves, 4 medium potatoes (scrubbed, skin on)
Scrub the potatoes, cut into quarters and put on to boil.
Peel the onions, then cut them in half top to bottom, and slice them finely. Caramelise them - cook them very slowly with butter and oil for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown and reduced in volume by half. Set aside.
Drain the potatoes, and cut them into rough dice. Set aside.
Cut the bacon into thin slices and fry. Set aside with the onions.
Shred the cabbage fairly finely, and fry in the bacon fat left in the pan. Cook quickly for a few minutes, then set aside with the bacon, potatoes and onions.
Separate the lobes of the chicken livers, and cut out any fat and connective tissue. If any of the lobes of liver are particularly large, cut these in two. Fry the livers until just cooked (about 3-4 minutes - they should still be slightly bloody at this point).
Add the onions, bacon, cabbage and potatoes back to the livers, and mix well to heat through. Season with a little salt if needs be, and plenty of black pepper. The livers should now be pink, but not bloody.
Serve with either Greene King Strong Suffolk or Orval. Or, if you're of a curious mind (as I was), serve both.
POSTSCRIPT: The Orval was a fairly aged bottle, bottled a couple of years ago, and was quite bretty. It really stunk of barnyards, which is of course a euphemism for cow shit and damp barns. It was initially at the upper limit of what I can tolerate for brett, but this blew off a bit over 10 or so minutes, revealing the classic, dry, peppery Orval character