Poggio Antico is both a restaurant and a very good winery located outside of Montalcino. The first time I dined at Poggio Antico was for my 21st birthday. It was a boys’ day out of eating and drinking and touring wineries. However, it was a spur of the moment decision, and we spent much of the first half of the day driving and searching for some of my favorite wineries. At that time, many of the smaller wineries hadn’t caught on to the concept of tours, so we encountered a few disappointments. However, after a long morning, my father, my Uncle Matt, and I found Poggio Antico. We were tired, maybe a bit frustrated, and starved!
We drove up a long white road lined with cypress trees to arrive at Poggio Antico. The maitre d’ hotel Maurizio Tola greeted us. While Maurizio is no longer with Poggio Antico, and has gone on to explore his own opportunities, he was congenial, provided great service, and we later became good friends. We enjoyed a tasting menu that had creative takes using local, traditional ingredients and a 1985 Poggio Antico Brunello Riserva.
In conversation with the owner and founder of the restaurant Paola Gloder, she suggested a recipe for chicken liver parfait for this book, which made me smile because it took me back to my aforementioned 21st birthday dining experience. I remember when we asked Maurizio what we should try, he noted that people come from far and wide for the chicken liver parfait, which at the time made my father nervous: He knew my uncle (his brother) was such a picky eater that he did not even like seeing olives on the dinner table! However, to his surprise, my Uncle Matt was interested in it all, specifically the liver, and he finished every bit. The chicken liver parfait was the highlight of the meal, but the whole lunch was special. The service, wine, and company made my birthday a very special one, and the experience remains one of my fondest memories of my late uncle.
Parfait di Fegatini di Pollo in Salsa di Moscadello di Montalcino
Chicken Liver Parfait with sweet muscat wine from Montalcino
1 pound chicken liver
1/4 cup fresh cream
4 ounces unsalted butter
1 ounce unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups brandy or cognac
1 tablespoon sugar
1 carrot, finely chopped
½ a celery stalk, finely chopped
1/4 white onion, finely chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
2 oranges, cut in to slices (for garnish)
¾ cup Muscadello Di Montalcino
1 tablespoon butter
Clean the chicken livers, removing the sinewy portions and rinse well with water.
Mince the vegetables and sauté with an ounce of butter. Add the chicken livers and cook for 2 minutes on each side on low heat. Do not overcook! Make sure it remains pink on the inside.
Add the brandy; after 30 seconds when the brandy has warmed, flame the brandy with a match for a few seconds to burn off the alcohol (you may also cook the brandy through without flaming it, but be but careful not to overcook the liver). Be sure to pay attention when flaming the brandy as the flame will rise very quickly and can be dangerous.
Remove the liver, veggies, and liquid and add to blender. Add the pepper, salt, sugar, and cream, and the remaining 4 ounces of butter and mix.
Pass the mixture through a sieve and place in a pound cake-style cake pan. Allow the parfait to chill for a minimum of 3 hours. Alternatively, the mixture can be transferred into chilled ramekins and served individually.
For the sauce: Heat the butter on a low flame in a small saucepan, then add the Moscadello di Montalcino and reduce until the sauce has a thick texture, like a glaze.
Cut the contents of the cake pan in slices. Drizzle with the slightly warm Moscadello di Montalcino reduction before serving along with two slices of orange per plate.
Author’s Note: The best bread to accompany this dish is a pain brioche, slightly grilled and still warm. The orange is a lovely garnish, but also a delicious accompaniment to the parfait, refreshing the palate. Serve the same Muscadello used for the sauce—it will bring out the flavor of both the wine and the dish. If you cannot find Muscadello Di Montalcino, a Muscat from Southern France like Beaume Di Venise would be an excellent alternative.
Directions: From Montalcino take the road towards to Grosseto, you will the entrance 4.5 kilometers down the road on the right marked by a stonewall, Poggio Antico sign a cypress lined driveway. [GMAP]