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Top Chef Canada: Taking the Challenge Home - Week 4

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Posted by : Food Network Canada, Mon, Apr 09 2012

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After watching last week’s episode of Top Chef Canada, with all the offal applications, I was unsure if I could stomach this challenge. That being said, after the disaster that was last week’s macaron attempt, I was also surprisingly relieved to have to cook with some organs this time around.    

 
Typically, there has been a clear leader in the polls to determine which dish I will be assigned, but this week it was neck and neck (or tongue and liver I guess?) between the Beef Tongue Poutine and the Duck Liver Ice Cream. By a small margin of three percent, the ice cream took it. Well, time to make some duck liver ice cream. Um… yum?  

 
 Taking the Challenge Home - Duck Liver Ice Cream Ingredients 

  
The base for ice cream is quite simple: egg yolks, sugar, and cream. So, I just had to track down some good-quality duck livers and an ice cream machine and I’d be on my way. My friend, Spooning and Forking food radio show host, Naddine, lent me her ice cream machine/maker (what’s the proper name?) for the challenge. All she asked for in return was one scoop of liver ice cream. She’s adventurous like that! Now, some duck livers were all I needed.

I put the word out via twitter, which led me to Home Tasting Room restaurant where their executive chef, Geoff Rogers, let me borrow a handful of duck livers. He also gave me a few tips regarding the organs, most notably to soak them in some milk that helps to remove any residual blood or odd smells. Interesting!

Taking the Challenge Home - Breaking Eggs for Duck Liver Ice Cream 
 

With all the ingredients on my counter, it was time to roll up my sleeves, crank the Kelly Clarkson tunes and get to work. Since this was my first (and last) time making liver ice cream, I decided to coat the duck livers in some sugar and then cook them in a generous amount of butter. Following the frying, I tossed the livers into a magic bullet (very Top Chef Canada-appropriate, I know) with a bit of cream to get them nice and smooth. The smell of sweet livers, butter and cream filled the kitchen. Wonderful.  

 
Quick side note: For Friday night dinner, I cooked up some red wine braised rabbit Easter Bunny (pictured below), so it was only appropriate that I use the yolks from Easter eggs. Are you now mortified at the thought of me taking the Easter Bunny’s life and cooking with its eggs? Sorry… it’s a cutthroat culinary world.

 
 Taking the Challenge Home - Rabbit Stew

After heating up the cream and vanilla on the stove, I tempered the yolk sugar mixture and combined everything, including the liver puree in a bowl to start double boiling. As I stirred the mixture, waiting for it to thicken, I couldn’t help but appreciate it’s beautiful murky brown colour. ‘Why don’t more people make this majestic dessert more often?,’ I asked myself. Another one of life’s great mysteries, I suppose.

Once the liver liquid thickened, I let it chill in my fridge for a few hours before placing it into the ice cream maker. While it was churning, I went to go have a shower, leaving the ice cream under the watchful eye of my friend Peter. When I returned, the ice cream had almost reached, well, an ice cream consistency. It was finally time for a taste test!

I was scared at first, but the ice cream was smooth, just sweet enough and notably rich, probably due to the duck liver. However, I did detect notes of peanut butter and maple syrup, which was strange as I did not put either of those items into the mix throughout my process.

 
 Taking the Challenge Home - Collage - Duck Liver Ice Cream

After staying thoroughly perplexed for a few minutes, Peter said, ‘Oh, well you were in the shower and I smelled the ice cream and it was gross so I just added some peanut butter and some maple syrup that I found in the cupboard.’ Hmm, pleasantly delicious sabotage! We can still be friends.

And, thus ends the duck liver chapter of my Top Chef Canada challenge. Until next week!
 

Taking the Challenge Home - Recipe for Duck Liver Ice Cream 
 

Duck Liver Ice Cream 
 

Yields: 6 cups
Total prep time: 4 hours

 
3 tbsp butter
5 duck livers
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cream
2 cups cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup pecans

Melt the butter in a medium-sized pan on medium-high heat. In the meantime, coat the livers liberally with sugar. Add to the pan and let cook for approximately 3 minutes per side. Let the livers cool slightly, then place into a food processor or blender with ¼ cup of cream. Puree until smooth. Set aside for now.

Combine the cream and vanilla in a small pot and heat up on the stove until it almost comes to a boil. While you’re waiting, in a heat-safe bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until it forms a bright yellow paste. Now, temper the yolks first by whisking in a few tablespoons of the hot cream. Whisking quickly, pour the remainder of the cream into the bowl of yolks, as well as the liver puree.

Place the bowl over top of the small pot of boiling water on the stove and let the ice cream mixture cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to thicken, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let chill in your refrigerator for at least three hours.

Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and let churn until ready, about 30-40 minutes. Sometime during this process, have a friend add the peanut butter and maple syrup to the machine while you’re not looking. For a harder consistency after churning,  let the ice cream sit in the freezer overnight.

To candy the pecans, place the sugar and water in a medium-sized pan and let cook on high heat until the water has evaporated and the sugar looks bubbly and syrupy. Add the pecans the pan and toss a few times to evenly coat.

Serve scoops of the ice cream in cones, topped with some candied pecans. Do not tell your friends that there is liver in this.


 

Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated. 

 

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