Fifty Shades of Grey: The Dish

Today my joy knows no bounds because my mind and body are still reverberating from last night’s dinner.   I realize that chicken livers do not have that delirious affect on everyone, but they certainly can make me crazy when they are presented in a deeply satisfying, succulent, piping hot package. 

These guys, in fifty shades of grey, are not knock-out gorgeous and will not likely dazzle you with their hunky-chunky visual charm.  Let’s face it; chicken livers of this magnitude are not much to look at, but they are real sleepers and deliver a powerful complement of earth-shaking nutritional revitalization that will surely rock your world.  If you are looking for robust flavors and rip-roaring atavistic satisfaction, look no further. 

This is a riff on Vivian Howard’s Dirty Farro, prepared at her highly regarded restaurant, Chef & the Farmer, in Kinston, North Carolina. In her outstanding treatment, she combines a few chicken livers, breakfast sausage, and semi-pearled farro (a whole wheat grain) into an unctuous variation of the old southern favorite, dirty rice.   

I have taken Vivian’s concept and substituted cremini mushrooms, sage, savory, and allspice for the sausage; of course I increased the chicken livers, and added a healthy bunch of tender rainbow kale from the garden (the last of the season!).  So, if you aren’t big on chicken livers and love breakfast sausage, I urge you to try her excellent dish, which can be found at  

Dirty Farro
Inspired by Vivian Howard, Chef & The Farmer, Kinston, NC.  Courtesy of  Epicurious. com and Bon Appétit | February 2012


2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 cups semi-pearled faro
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoons kosher salt plus more
1/2 pound chicken livers, trimmed, large chop
1- ½ cups cremini mushrooms, large chop
1 medium onion, fine chop
1 stalk celery, fine chop
2 cloves garlic, mince
1 teaspoon sage leaves, minced
1 teaspoon savory leaves, minced
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 bunch kale, clean: about ¾ cup stems, chop; 6 cups leaves, large chop
1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions (dark-green parts only)
1/3 cup celery leaves from inner stalks

In medium sized pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add farro; stir until toasted, about 2 minutes. Add thyme, bay leaf and2 ½  cups water. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Uncover, add ½ teaspoon salt, and simmer until farro is tender but still firm to the bite, about 20 minutes. Remove from pot and let cool.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in same pot over medium heat. Add the livers; cook, about 4 minutes, until they begin to color on the outside. Add the mushrooms and cook until they begin to release liquid.  Add onions, garlic, the herbs and spices, the kale stems, and a pinch of salt. Sauté for 2 minutes.

Add the kale leaves and approximately ½ cup water; bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until liquid is reduced by about half, about 8 minutes. Stir in cooked farro; simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Stir in scallions; garnish with celery leaves. Yield:  4 servings.   

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