Baked Pasta with Chicken Livers and Gizzards  

 

Pasta al Forno con Fegatini e Rigaglie di Pollo 

 

Pasta ‘Nfurnata cu Sucu ri Ficateddi ri Addina  

 

Chicken livers and gizzards are utilized in all styles of cooking and in every nationality. They are served as appetizers or as entrees, for instance as a pate’ to top bruschette, as an accompaniment to pasta or rice dishes as sauce or served as a main course cooked in thousands of ways, sautéed with garlic or scented with lemon and wine, baked, broiled or added to meat sauce to enrich its taste.

In Sicily, a sauce is made with chicken livers, gizzards, onions, vegetables, tomatoes and “astrattu”, which is concentrated tomato paste, and used as a condiment for pasta.

This delicious and tasty sauce is trendy in the cooking of the town of Marsala, where the Baked Pasta with Chicken Livers and Gizzards is a well liked dish. The basic recipe of Baked Pasta with Chicken Livers and Gizzards will follow; use your liking to add ricotta, tuma or primosale, a young and soft Sicilian cheese, or your preferred herbs and spices.

Marsala is part of the province of Trapani, and it is well known in the world not only for the famous Marsala Wine, also for their simple and tasty cuisine, for the suggestive natural beauty, for the sandy shores, for the flowery gardens, for the famous archaeological sites, for the numerous monuments and for many interesting places; not unintentionally the Arabs called this town Marsa-Allah, meaning God’s harbor.

 

Serves 4 to 5

 

 INGREDIENTS 

  • 1 lb. Fettuccine or short pasta ( like penne or ziti)  
  • 5 tablespoons of olive oil  
  • 1 medium onion chopped finely  
  • 1 stalk of celery chopped finely  
  • 1 small carrot chopped finely  
  • 2 lb. chopped chicken liver and gizzards  
  • ½ cup of Marsala wine  
  • 1 can 5 oz. tomato paste, diluted in 2 cups of water  
  • 1 can 28 oz. tomato puree  
  • 1 bay leaf  
  • lemon peel  
  • Salt and pepper to taste  
  • ½ cup grated cheese  
  • ½ cup lightly toasted breadcrumbs  

 

Please Note

If you want to make a hearty sauce use 2 lb. of chicken livers and gizzards; if you replace part of the chicken with chopped beef or pork, it will result in a milder and more delicate sauce.

Fettuccine are served without baking.

 

 

 

 PREPARATION

 

 

Preparation of the Livers and Gizzards

 

The Livers

Using a sharp knife cut halfway each liver and remove any yellow fat and the large vein from its center. Place the livers in a bowl with ice water.

Rinse thoroughly, place in a colander. Drain, chop finely and keep refrigerated, until ready to use.

The Gizzards

Place the gizzards in a bowl with ice water, Cut each gizzard halfway and place in another bowl with cold water; get each piece and with your finger remove the grit from inside the gizzard. Rinse thoroughly under running water to remove any trace of sand and place in a bowl with clean cold water.

Using a sharp knife cut each gizzard in two parts. Eliminate all edges, slice off the silver outside membrane, remove all fat and put aside only the meaty part which is the muscle. Keep the gizzards in iced water at all times.

Place gizzards in a saucepan and add enough water to 2 inches above the gizzards. Cook over a medium heat until it starts to boil, then cover and simmer for 1 hour. Drain and chop finely. Set on the side.

Wash working surfaces (including cutting boards), utensils, and hands after touching livers and gizzards.

 

Otherwise

Buy 2 lb. container of chicken livers from a reliable source: they are mostly deveined and avoids lot of work with more or less the same results.

Rinse thoroughly, place in a colander. Drain, chop finely and keep refrigerated, until ready to use.

 

The Sauce

Over medium-high heat, in a 6 quart heavy sauce pot combine 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the chopped onions, celery and carrots: cook for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are thoroughly sautéed.
Add the livers and gizzards, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, until it begins to brown. Add the optional ½ cup of Marsala wine or your preferred wine cook a few minutes until the alcohol in the wine evaporates.

Add the tomato paste a little at a time, diluted in 2 cups of water, then stir in the tomato puree and add 2 cups of water.

Cook it a few minutes and add the bay leaf, lemon peel, salt and pepper to taste.
Heat to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer very low for 1 hour, stirring occasionally; at the end check for salt and remove lemon peel and bay leaf.

 

The Assembly

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a pan 13”X9”X2” with 1 tablespoon of oil, and coat with breadcrumbs.

Bring to a boil 6 quarts of salted water. Cook the pasta 4 minutes less than the package instructions.

Drain the pasta well and return to the pot. Add a few ladles of sauce and ½ of the grated cheese.

Pour a ladle of sauce over the breadcrumbs in the greased baking dish and add ½ of the pasta. Cover with some sauce and sprinkle with a handful of grated cheese.

Cover with remaining pasta and finish the top layer with left over sauce and cheese.

Spread top evenly with breadcrumbs, sprinkle the top with the remaining tablespoon of oil and bake for 30 minutes or until the top is a golden color.

 

Baked Pasta with Liver Sauce

 

Or serve the fettuccine covered with sauce and with the breadcrumbs and cheese on the side.

Tagliarini -Fettuccine with Liver Sauce