This Rigatoni with Chicken Livers is one of the best pasta dishes ever.
This weekend we had friends over for dinner, and Meg & I served this pasta dish as an appetizer, incredible roast pork tenderloin, and delicious apple sage sauce - moist with plenty of flavors. It might even register as a "Good As It Gets" recipe. I'll post the recipe for the pork dish in the next week or so, plus tell you where you can watch it being prepared via video.
As part of my Reluctant Gourmet Cookbook Challenge, I suggested looking for recipes from cookbooks you last used a while ago. Still, I just purchased the new Chef Marc Vetri cookbook, Rustic Italian Food, and couldn't wait to give it a spin.
This recipe for Rigatoni with Chicken Livers is served at Marc's Osteria restaurant here in Philadelphia, and I have been told it's their most popular request. So I order it as a table appetizer every time we dine there.
I'm Not Eating Chicken Livers
I understand some of you may be turning up your noses at the idea of cooking and eating chicken livers, and I understand where you are coming from, but this one is worth a try.
If you like liverwurst, liver pate (be sure to check out my Chicken Liver Pate Recipe, also from Vetri), foie gras, or any organ meat dishes, you will love this.
And if you don't think you will like it because of the chicken livers, try it anyway to broaden your culinary repertoire. Start with a bit of liverwurst, muenster cheese, and spicy mustard on a hard roll and go from there.
We doubled up Marc's recipe since we had seven adults to serve, which was great. Everyone enjoyed it, but the dish was more creamy than I remembered at Osteria. Next time I would add a little more pasta water and Parmesan cheese at the end to make the sauce creamier, as Chef Marc suggests.
What's impressive is how affordable a dish like this is. Chicken livers sell for less than $2 per pound, and Marc's recipe calls for ½ pound. The cipollini onions are more expensive, but you could easily substitute yellow onions.
Please buy quality Parmesan cheese and grate it yourself to ensure it's fresh. And, of course, you want to use fresh sage, not dried.
Cipollini Onions - Great for roasting and very sweet
Cipollini Onions Sliced
Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese and Fresh Sage
Chicken Livers - Not much to look at but very tasty when prepared right
Ok, now it's starting to look very delicious!
Rigatoni with Chicken Livers Recipe
- 14 ounces rigatoni dry pasta
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter plus some extra for the sauce
- 8 small cipollini onions peeled and thinly sliced into rings
- 12 leaves sage
- salt and freshly ground pepper - to taste to taste
- 8 ounces chicken livers minced
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese grated with extra to serve at the table
- Start by bringing a large pot of water to boil to cook the pasta. Many home cooks, including myself, underestimate how long it takes to (1) bring the water to boil and (2) cook the pasta. We end up with a finished sauce waiting for the pasta to cook.
- Get the water boiling before you need to throw in the pasta. And don't forget to season the water with a little salt.
- Add the pasta and bring the water back to a boil and cook until al dente (tender yet firm).
- While the pasta is cooking, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in a large fry pan (sauté pan) big enough to hold both the sauce and the pasta over medium-high heat.
- Add the cipollini onions and sage and cook until the onions are lightly brown. This should take about 4 minutes.
- Season the onions and sage with salt and pepper and add the minced chicken livers. These cook quickly, about a minute or two.
- Add a ladle full of the pasta water using it to deglaze, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen up anything stuck to it.
- When it's time to drain the pasta and add it to the sauce, be sure to reserve a cup of the pasta water in case you need it when making the sauce. Pasta water, full of starch from the pasta, is a great way to help the sauce stick to the pasta.
- Add the pasta to the saucepan and toss with the Parmesan cheese, some of the reserved pasta water and additional butter. Judgment time. If you think you need more sauce or it is not creamy enough, add a little more of the pasta water.
- You can also add more butter but don't overdo it. I think restaurants are using way too much butter in their sauces, but that is another topic for discussion.
- Serve in a large bowl family style or divide among individual bowls and serve with the extra Parmesan cheese as a garnish. It is also a great idea to warm the bowls before adding the pasta to keep everything warm.