If I was not stuck by the snow in Pisa airport last Friday, which for me that I’m writing is actually tomorrow, I should be now in Belgium for the last day of a mini Christmas holiday, a long weekend with friends to discover a part of Europe that I never had the chance to visit before. I’m looking forward to chocolate, breweries, craft beer and a miniature tree to decorate with my friends, in a sort of early Christmas.
Today begins a special week that will lead us up to Christmas, so I could not miss the first post, the starter of a Christmas lunch, again well ahead of time. We had this special festive lunch in my new house in collaboration with Cecchi Winery, from Castellina in Chianti. Starting today and throughout the week we will present you a course per day to make an ideal Christmas lunch with friends in a house in the Tuscan countryside. Simple, local and seasonal products, traditional flavours that are reinterpreted in a festive atmosphere.
This will be a not so rich Christmas for many people here in Italy and abroad, so I truly believe that the greatest gift would be to spend the day with the people we love, around a table set up for a hearty and warm lunch, were feelings and people are way more important than things. Then it takes very little to transform the traditional Tuscan crostini neri, a spread of chicken livers and vegetables, into an appetizer that immediately sets the mood for Christmas.
Take the usual chicken liver crostini that you can find throughout the year in my house, substitue capers and anchovy paste with a generous handful of walnuts. It is universally recognized that dried fruit reminds Christmas, bingo games with relatives and rich medioeval desserts filled with heady spices. Just play around with the ingredients and make a festive chicken liver paté with a rich walnut hint.
Here’s the recipe for the starter of our Christmas lunch: we dipped down into the chicken liver and walnut paté bowl, spread it thick on soft bread slices and sprinkled some toasted pine nuts on top to decorate the crostini, then enjoyed them next to the fireplace. My grandma and mum approved the recipe, so welcome to a new family tradition for Christmas.
- 500 g chicken livers and chicken hearts
- 1 red onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 stalk celery
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 50 g butter + a knob to cream the spread
- Salt and pepper
- 100 g shelled walnuts
- Pine nuts
Rinse the chicken livers and chicken hearts under running water and put them in a saucepan with the other chopped ingredients: onion, carrot, celery, rosemary and butter.
Season the livers with salt and stir all the ingredients. Cook for about 35 minutes on low flame fit a lid, adding some tablespoons of water every so often if too dry. The livers should remain soft and wet. When the chicken livers are done, put all the ingredients in a food processor along with the shelled walnuts or use a mill to make a pâté.
This sauce is good when it is quite rough, not too velvety. It should keep its rustic character.
At the very end season with salt and pepper and cream with some butter.
You can make this one day ahead, and when it’s time to serve it just heat the chicken liver spread with some butter or chicken broth.
Spread thickly on soft bread slices and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.
Wine paring by Cecchi
La Mora (Morellino di Scansano DOC 2011). An unusual combination for a dish that is always presented with sweet wines. We have chosen instead the expression of a Sangiovese that in Maremma gives us softness. The brightness of this area results in a mature red fruit hint, a juicy cherry. A good red to start our Christmas lunch.
See you tomorrow with a first course rich in taste and tradition!