One of the many downsides to living in a flat is that, despite having a beautiful communal garden to look at and sometimes sit in, I don’t have the chance to grow my own fruit and vegetables. I’m lucky to be able to grow a few herbs and I’m hoping my little lemon verbena plant on my window sill, which I bought at the Great British Cheese Festival in Cardiff over the weekend, will survive longer than a week.
But, lucky for me I have a granddad, albeit half an hour down the road in Fairford, with a whole back garden dedicated to the best of British vegetables. There are three things he really excels at – onions (he never gives those away), fresh peas and carrots. I will inevitably never buy carrots from a supermarket because they are bland and boring; but, my granddad’s carrots are somethin’ else.
Armed with a bounty from his garden (carrots, beetroot, runner beans, tomatoes, cucumber and his first batch of scotch bonnet chillies) I was inspired to cook this evening’s dinner. And, it wasn’t too bad. In fact, it was rather good. So, here it is folks. It takes 15 minutes in total, tastes amazing and is cheap at half the price. Carrots are one of the most readily available and reasonably priced vegetables out there, ditto spinach, and the duck liver was a bargainous £1.03 a portion from Ruby & White in Bristol. Let me know what you think.
Seared duck liver with a spiced carrot purée and wilted spinach
1 portion of duck liver
5 small carrots (or two regular carrots)
2 handfuls of washed baby spinach
2 cardamom pods
1 tsp of cumin seeds
2 tsps of your favourite spices (I used a blend of chilli flakes, coriander, cumin, mustard seeds, peppercorns and fennel seeds)
1/8 nutmeg (grated)
1. Slice the carrots thickly and place in a pan with just enough water to cover them and bring to the boil until tender. Take off the heat. You should have a bit of the cooking water left and add a knob of butter.
2. Break the green cardamom husk with a pestle and remove the black seeds and grind them down in the mortar with the cumin and some sea salt until a fine powder. Add to the carrots and blitz it all together with a hand blender until smooth. You may need to add a little more butter or water to make this a creamy purée to your taste. Put a lid on the pan and leave to one side and keep warm while you cook the liver.
3. Place a frying pan on a medium-high heat with a little olive oil. While the pan is heating up, grind all of your favourite spices in the mortar. You want the spices left quite rough to give added texture. Pour them out onto your chopping board and lightly coat your liver slices in the spice mixture. When the oil starts smoking add the liver and cook on one side for 30 seconds before turning over and adding a small knob of butter. Let this bubble in the pan for another 30-45 seconds before removing the liver and wrapping it in foil to keep warm.
4. Add a dash of olive oil in the same pan, the nutmeg and your washed spinach and cook for 30 to 60 seconds until the spinach has just wilted.
5. Place the carrot purée in the middle of the plate, add your spinach (be sure to give them a gentle squeeze with the tongs to get rid of excess liquid) and place your seared liver on top (the resting will have made it extra tender). The liver should be still pink and blushing. Enjoy.