The liver of my heart
Well well well, amongst the quarantine pleasures there is more space and time to cook -> photograph -> write in the blog, and since today is Easter Sunday, a quite unusual and nostalgic one, I am going to take a stroll down memory lane and remember through food one piece of my life as a kid.
So, my family comes from all around Italy but the strongest link outside Rome has always been my mother's uncle in Gubbio, a charming town in the hearth of Umbria (which is the heart of Italy). Imagine Umbria like Tuscany but less Americans spoiling the vineyards :)
If my parents were joyful in the car heading to their little holiday house, I had fear in my eyes, as I simply hated there. Now with the wisdom of age, I realise that I was only fearing boredom, as I had no friends there and basically nothing to do, and that indeed the town is beautiful, the family we had there was warm and welcoming, the food was amazing... so it was just me being an annoying spoiled child!
Anyway, the highlight of the stay was always the lunch at my grandaunt's Regina and granduncle Pavilio. Many years and many lunches, and always the same menu, but I am not complaining here because it was just delicious. Liver spread, pasta and chicken "al fricco'" with the crescia, a kind of flat focaccia very special from that area, a magical food made only with two ingredients (water and flour) but which tasted like heaven when dipped in the chicken sauce. Everything was so tasty that the spoiled child I was was also eating liver! I mean, as a kid I only ate pasta with tomato, potatoes and plain meat (unbelievable, uh?). Well, the liver spread was amazing (also I think nobody told me it was liver, nor I ever asked). Recently I asked my mum for the recipe and I have been making it a few times already, and I have to say that the results are very good and reasonably authentic.
Whenever I try this spread, I can feel again the warmth of that house, where my mum spent a big chunk of her childhood, I can hear my grandaunt laughing and my granduncle telling stories of how he managed to never go to the war and still get a lifelong pension. I had a very small family and growing up, many times I have found myself missing that kind of atmosphere, to which I was only exposed during our short trips to Umbria. It comes with no say, I now wish they were longer, and more frequent...
LIVER SPREAD GUBBIO STYLE
300 gr chicken liver
1 celery stark
2 leaves of laurel
half a glass of white wine
2 anchovies preserved in salt
4-5 pieces of vegetables in vinegar (like cucumber, onion, carrot)
Chop onion, celery and carrot in small pieces and pan fry in a little oil. Add the liver, raise the flame until the liver changes color, then add the wine and when the alcohol is evaporated, lower the flame, add laurel, cover and cook until the liver is ready (~15 mins). Let it cool down, add the anchovies, the vinegar vegetables, salt and some oil EVO, take out the laurel leaves, mix and let it rest in the fridge overnight. Serve on toasted bread. Enjoy!