Recipe: Smoked Lamb Liver Crostini with Marinated Sunflower Buds

The below recipe was published in the NY Times T Magazine blog after Benjamin Towill, Kate Dougherty and Patrick Dougherty visited the letUMeat crew on their cross-country cycling journey A Ride in the Country. Read the T Magazine blog post here and our own article on their visit here.

Smoked Lamb Liver Crostini with Marinated Sunflower Buds

Smoked Lamb Liver
1 ea lamb liver (2-3 lbs)
For Marinade:
1 grated garlic clove
2 Calabrian chili
1 Tbsp Garum (Roman style fish sauce)
1 sprig fresh oregano
1 bay leaf
¼ c white wine
½ c olive oil
salt and pepper

Liver Mousse
smoked liver
3 shallots
3 sprigs Thyme
¼ cup Marsala
¼ lb butter

Marinated Sunflower Buds
15 sunflower buds
4 Calabrian chilis
salt and white pepper
¼ c olive oil (just enough to coat)

Combine everything for the marinade and pour over the liver. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
The next day, light the smoker and let the fire build a nice coal bed. Soak some applewood chips in water, so they burn slower and put off a little heavier smoke. Season the lamb with Jacobsen Sea Salt and pepper and let the smoking begin at a medium heat (200-250F) for about 35-40 minutes. For liver mousse I prefer a medium rare liver.

While the liver smokes, sweat some shallots with thyme and Marsala wine. Once the liver is smoked, let cool. In the food processor run the liver in the processor with the shallots and cold butter. Process until the mousse is smooth.

For the sunflower bud condimento you ride your bike all the way across the country and as you arrive to the last farm, just pedal a little further to the sunflower patch next to the hazelnut orchard. Find & harvest the buds that have not blossomed yet. At that point they look much like an artichoke heart. Blanch the buds in boiling water and shock into ice water. Let chill. Slice the buds in half and marinate with chopped Calabrian chili, salt, white pepper and olive oil. We served this with some Roman Candle Bakery grilled filone (bread), a simple bean purée and some marinated odds and ends of the lamb (hearts, kidney and jewels) that we grilled and marinated with garden herbs and some love.

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