This is a lovely rustic pasta dish that makes use of some classic flavour pairings. The sweetness of the onion and apple is a perfect foil to the slightly bitter characteristics of celery and together this forms a perfect backdrop to the creamy livers and crunchy nuts.
- olive oil
- 2 large French shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp thyme leaves
- river and cooking salt
- white and black pepper
- 80 g granny smith apple, cut into ½ cm dice and coated with a little lemon juice
- 40 g butter
- 160 g celery, cut into 1 cm dice
- 200 ml chicken stock
- 500 g orecchiette
- 180 g cleaned duck livers, separated into lobes
- 200 ml white wine
- 30 g grated parmesan
- ¼ cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 60 g toasted hazelnuts, roughly crushed
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Place a saucepan over medium heat, warm a little and then add a splash of olive oil, the shallot and the thyme. Season with salt and white pepper. Gently cook for 5-10 minutes or until the shallot has softened and is starting to caramelise.
Add the apple and butter, stir and cook for another minute or two before adding the celery and chicken stock. Continue cooking until the stock comes to the boil, then remove from the heat and set aside.
Place your pasta into a large pot of boiling salted water and start to cook.
While the pasta is bubbling away get a large heavy based saucepan, large enough to hold all the pasta, onto a high heat.
Once the saucepan is nice and hot, add a splash of oil. Highly season the livers with salt and black pepper before adding to the pan. Sear for just under a minute on both sides. You want the livers to get a nice bit of colour.
Remove the livers from the pan, add in the wine and reduce the heat to low. Give the wine a few minutes or so to reduce a little and then add the shallot mix. Season the sauce and remove off the direct heat somewhere close by so you will be able to easily add the pasta.
Cut each liver into 4-6 bite-sized chunks.
As soon as the pasta is ready, strain and add to the sauce, placing the saucepan back onto a medium heat. Add the livers and cook everything gently together for a few minutes to allow all the flavours to mingle and the livers to warm through. Season with black pepper.
Once you are happy that all is ready, add the parmesan, parsley and hazelnuts, give it a final stir and serve either in individual bowls or a large platter. Finish with a drizzle of oil.
• This dish works equally as well with chicken livers. You can also a different type of pasta, something small and dried though, such as farfalle, or perhaps even a small shell-shaped variety.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Tiffany Page. Creative concept by Lou Fay.
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