Chicken Livers with Bacon, Pickled Onions, Zante Grapes, and Watercress
This dish is a popular selection and appears in many variations on the Zuni menu.
Yield: serves 2
For the Pickled Onions
- 1 1⁄4 cups champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp. sugar (heaping tbsp.)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 small dried red chile
- 5 black peppercorns
- A few pinches salt
- 6 small yellow onions (about 1 lb.), peeled, sliced into 1/4"–1/2"-thick rings and separated, ends discarded
For the Salad
- 2 oz. sliced bacon, cut crosswise into about 1" pieces
- 2-3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 oz. chicken livers, trimmed, rinsed, and patted dry
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 tbsp. whole zante or 6 halved seedless red flame grapes
- 2 small handfuls watercress
- 1⁄4 tsp. sherry vinegar
- 3 tbsp. oloroso sherry
- For the pickled onions: Combine 1 1⁄4 cups water, vinegar, sugar, bay leaves, chile (broken in half if you like a spicier pickle), peppercorns, and salt in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer over medium heat, and add onions. Gently stir the crowded onions as the brine returns to a simmer, then simmer them for 45 seconds. Pour onions and brine into clean jars and allow to cool. Tightly cover and store in the refrigerator for at least 1 day and up to 6 months.
- For the salad: Put bacon into a medium skillet and cook over medium heat until just crisp. Set bacon aside, reserving rendered fat in skillet. Increase heat to medium-high and add 1 1⁄2 tbsp. of the oil. Add livers, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook until they are browned on each side and faintly rosy on the inside, 1–1 1⁄2 minutes per side. Stir in bacon, grapes, and 8–10 ringlets of the pickled onions (save remaining onions for another use).
- Toss watercress with vinegar and 1⁄4 tsp. of the oil, then divide between 2 plates. Spoon half the livers, bacon, grapes, and onions onto each plate. Deglaze skillet with sherry over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, then add remaining oil, swirling skillet over the heat. Spoon sauce over livers and salad and serve immediately.