Revisiting Bayona

I try a lot of new places. I’ve written about it before, and recently, so I won’t belabor the point, but it occurred to me a few weeks ago that maybe I could revisit a place or two and see how things were going. So I went to Bayona recently, and had a predictably excellent meal.

Bayona has a focused menu. About half of it has not changed for a decade, and the other half changes at least monthly. It’s been a while, but I did not recognize the fried chicken livers listed as an appetizer from my last visit.

If you read the last sentence of the preceding paragraph and shuddered involuntarily at the mention of “liver,” then you’d best skip a paragraph or two, because there’s something about the slightly metallic flavor of liver that I very much like, and I intend to go into it a bit.

These livers were fried perfectly. The richness was cut by a Caribbean pickle of cucumbers and jicama, as well as a sauce that approximated “barbecue” without being cloyingly sweet. It was an outstanding plate of food.

I am a fan of chicken (and other) livers from “the way back” as the kids say. I have turned powerful women and slightly drunk men into fans of chicken livers with a very simple recipe that involves poaching the meat in strong wine and then combining the puréed livers with a large amount of butter. I call it mousse, but you can call it chopped liver if you want. Just don't call me late for dinner or mistake me for Mr. Robert Frost. 

Anyway, I’m not bragging – it’s not like I came up with the idea of combining liver and large amounts of butter – but to the extent you’ve never been a fan of chicken livers, give this a try the next time you buy a whole bird and are wondering what to do with the squishy red lobes you pull out of the cavity:

Put a half-stick of butter on your kitchen counter to come to room temperature. Bring about one-half cup of port, sherry or marsala to a simmer in a small saucepan. Add the roughly chopped liver from a chicken, making sure the liver is covered by the liquid. Season with a little salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the liver is just a bit pink. Let it rest for around 10 minutes, then put the liver through a fine-mesh sieve. Heat the butter to melt it then stir it into the liver, seasoning with salt and pepper.

You can expand on that recipe by changing the liquid in which you poach the livers or adding herbs or spices before or after the poaching.

Once you’ve combined the liver, purée with the butter; you just need to let it cool a bit. Bob’s your uncle and you’ll impress almost all dinner guests. 

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