Artichoke Hearts with Squab Livers

I created this recipe to take full advantage of the marvelous dividend you get when cooking squab: the liver. Deglazing the pan juices with the slightly sweet sting of raspberry liqueur makes an effortless and savory sauce. The artichokes can be cooked and trimmed early in the day and filled shortly before serving.

INGREDIENTS MEASURE WEIGHT
volume ounces grams
6 large artichokes 12 to 14 ounces each 340 to 397 grams each
salt ¼ teaspoon + a pinch
6 squab livers 2.5 ounces 70 grams
unsalted butter, divided 1 tablespoon + teaspoons 0.75 ounce 21 grams
12 fresh sage leaves
pepper, freshly ground a grinding
shallots, minced 1 tablespoon 0.3 ounce 9 grams
liqueur de framboise (raspberry liqueur)* 1 tablespoon

*Or 2 tablespoons sweet red vermouth.

Method

Trim the stems from the artichokes so that about 1 inch remains for them to stand on above the water in the pot and set them upright in one or two pots just large enough to fit them standing upright.

Pour in about ½ inch of boiling water and sprinkle with the ¼ teaspoon of salt. Cover tightly and simmer over low heat until tender, adding more water if necessary. Very large artichokes can take as long as 1 hour and 15 minutes. Start testing after 40 minutes. To test for doneness, pierce the side of an artichoke with a metal cake tester or wooden skewer. It should meet with little resistance. When tender, the color will deepen and become more drab and when an artichoke is picked up with tongs, it will compress slightly.

Place the artichokes in a colander and allow them to cool enough so that you can handle them. Remove and discard the leaves and hairy inner choke. A small sharp knife or a grapefruit spoon works well for scraping away the choke without destroying the shape of the artichoke heart. Trim off enough of the stem so that the artichoke hearts will sit upright. If desired, trim the sides of the hearts (I prefer the rough natural look). Set them aside, covered, at room temperature.

Rinse the squab livers under cold running water and dry on paper towels.

In a medium-size heavy skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the sage leaves in a single layer and sauté them until lightly golden on both sides, about 1 minute for each side. Remove them carefully to paper towels. They will be crisp and fragile.

Add the remaining teaspoons of butter to the skillet and heat until bubbling. Add the squab livers. Sprinkle them with the pinch of salt and the pepper. Sauté the livers, stirring often, over medium high until browned, about 3 minutes. Be careful not to overcook them; they are most tender, juicy and delicious when still rosy inside. Remove them with a slotted spoon to a small bowl.

Lower the heat and add the shallots to the pan. Sauté them, stirring often, until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour in the framboise (or vermouth), stirring to scrape up the browned bits. Pour over the squab livers.

When ready to serve, remove the squab livers to a cutting board and cut them into small cubes. Arrange 2 sage leaves in each artichoke heart so that they extend over the sides and place some of the liver and shallots in the center. Drizzle the pan juices on top.

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