The Nasty Bits: Liver Parfait


Liver parfait is summer's answer to pate. Maybe you don't feel like going through the rigmarole of grinding, mixing, and cooking pate as your kitchen heats up on an already heated summer day, but you still want something that feels like charcuterie.

Liver parfait is just such a thing: cubes of liver, browned just until the centers are cooked through, suspended in a delicate gelatin of muscadet with bits of caramelized onion enriched with butter and cream.


The muscadet gelatin sounds fancy but it's really just a mixture of gelatin and heated muscadet wine. You dip your knife into the opaque, golden gelatin to find tender liver and sweet onions nestled underneath. The gelatin is light on the tongue, providing contrast to the rich liver and onions.

Spread on bread or crackers, liver parfait is a refreshing yet substantial appetizer, a great change from your run-of-the-mill pate.

The recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, Pork and Sons, which uses pork liver as well as bacon in the parfait.

The bacon is sort of overkill, though I'd prefer not to set off a war about the merits of adding bacon to anything you cook. So, if you do include bacon, use the finest-quality smoked bacon you can find; there's nothing about the short cooking time in this recipe that will stew bacon into tender uniformity. And though the recipe calls for pork liver, you'd be fine using veal, chicken, or duck livers.

One of the nicest things about this parfait? It takes around a half-hour to make: brown the liver with onions, toss in a bit of wine and butter, and chill the liver and onions with the muscadet wine in ramekins or other small containers. It's a perfect carry-along in your picnic basket.

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