Tag: chicken liver

Stuffed Maltese Artichokes with Meat and Brandy

Maltese Stuffed Artichokes

In Maltese cuisine, stuffed vegetables have a long tradition. The island’s soil and climate offer the right conditions for fruits and vegetables to grow and ripen under the Mediterranean sun with strong tastes and in huge quantities. Tomatoes, onions, marrows, zucchini, aubergines, pumpkins, all fruits and vegetables that are perfect to be filled! Be it with meat, seafood, herbs or other vegetables, you can combine flavours of all kinds or even use your leftovers to create a completely new dish you would have never thought of before. When I’m in an experimental mood, I bravely mix whatever I find in my fridge and shelves, sweet, sour, spicy or bitter, I’ve never been disappointed, but often surprised!

A few weeks ago I wrote about my stuffed zucchini, the filling was light and fluffy, made of ricotta, basil and lemon, perfect for the fruit’s soft taste. When I decided to stuff some baby artichokes I had a stronger filling in mind, hearty, with minced pork and chicken liver which is an old, traditional Maltese recipe. To refine the meat’s flavours I deglazed it with sweet brandy and infused it with an aromatic bay leaf and a pinch of cumin. I prepared everything in advance and warmed it up in the oven for a few minutes before dinner, in my little ramekins. The meal pretty and delicious!

Maltese Stuffed Artichokes

 Stuffed Artichokes with Minced Pork, Chicken Liver and Brandy

The artichokes can be prepared in advance and warmed up in the oven before serving.

For 6 stuffed baby artichokes you need

baby artichokes 6
minced pork 220g / 8oz
chicken liver, cleaned and finely chopped, 150g / 5 1/2oz
medium sized onion, finely chopped, 1
garlic, crushed, 2 cloves
brandy 40ml / 1 1/2fl oz
white wine 160ml / 5 1/2fl oz
bay leaf 1
cumin, ground, a pinch
parsley, chopped, the leaves of a small bunch
salt and black pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon

Cut off the artichoke stems. If they are soft, peel and chop them finely and set aside. Pluck the hard outer leaves and cut the artichokes’ tips off (1/3 – 1/2 of the artichoke), just the soft, fleshy part of the leaves should be left. Loosen the hairy choke with a knife and scoop it out with a spoon. Keep the prepared artichokes in a bowl of cold water and the juice of half a lemon once they are cut.

In a large pot, cook the artichokes in lots of salted water for about 10 minutes or until soft.

Set the oven to 200°C /390°F.

In a large heavy pan, heat a splash of olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic on medium for a few minutes until soft. If the artichoke stems are soft add them as well. Add a little more olive oil and fry the minced meat for 2-3 minutes. Add the liver, stir and fry for a minute. Add the bay leaf, parsley and cumin, deglaze with brandy and pour in the white wine, cook it down for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and fill the artichokes with the minced meat mixture.

Place the artichokes in a big baking dish or 6 single ramekins, add a dash of white wine to cover the bottom of the dish and cook them in the oven for 5 minutes.

Maltese Stuffed Artichokes


Maltese Stuffed Artichokes

Bitter Radicchio and Spicy Mustard Butter Pasta

Pasta dishes are one of my favorite dinners as they are very easy to prepare but they always give me the feeling that I have created something special. It’s always a little feast. My friend Judith told me about this wonderful combination of spaghetti, radicchio, dijon mustard butter and chicken liver (for those who don’t fancy liver this recipe also works very well without). I fell in love with the combination of spicy mustard butter and bitter radicchio which makes a very nice, velvety sauce for the pasta. Together with a glass of red wine this puts me in a cozy, relaxed mood, a perfect December evening dinner.

Once in a while I feel a strong appetite for liver so I bought some organic chicken liver today. When I was a child, my mother used to fry liver together with onion rings and thick apple slices and I loved it. I have a real weak spot for traditional comfort food. The recipe today will be lighter but still comfortable. I choose Linguine made by Delverde for our dinner, the most delicious pasta made with water from the Verde river in the Abruzzi region in Italy. Another family recommendation. Linguine fits very well when you want to mix your pasta with vegetables or meat and not only with a sauce as they have more bite than spaghetti.

Linguine with Radicchio, Mustard Butter and Chicken Liver

For a generous dinner for 2 people you need

pasta for 2, around 200g / 7 ounces
radicchio, quartered and chopped in 1cm slices, 300g / 10.5 ounces
butter 30g / 1 ounce plus for frying
smooth Dijon mustard 4-6 teaspoons
organic chicken liver, rinsed, dried and cleaned of their thicker skins, 150g / 5 ounces
brandy or red wine for deglazing
oil for frying
flour for dusting the liver
pasta water
salt and pepper

It doesn’t take long to prepare this meal but you will have to coordinate everything within 10 minutes. It is easiest to prepare as much as possible in advance before you start cooking.

Cook the pasta and take out a cup of the pasta water after it has been cooking for a few minutes as we need some of this liquid for the sauce.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan on low heat and mix in the mustard, it might curdle a bit, don’t worry. Add a good splash of the pasta water to get a more liquid sauce. Taste to see if the mustard comes through strong enough, you can make it quite tasty as it will get mixed with lots of pasta.

At the same time heat up some butter with a dash of oil in a frying pan. Mix a few tablespoons of flour with salt and pepper on a plate to turn the liver in. Fry the liver for a few minutes on medium heat but watch them as they don’t need long and dry out quickly. Deglaze with a tiny dash of brandy or wine, it should cook down straight away. Take the liver out and keep warm under a plate.

Pour some oil in the used but dry pan (wipe it with kitchen roll if necessary) and fry the sliced radicchio for a few minutes, turn and watch, it won’t need long either. Mix the cooked pasta in the pan together with the radiocchio and your mustard butter sauce. Season with salt and pepper and arrange on plates with the liver on top. Have a sip of your wine and relax!