- 200g unsalted butter
- 3 banana shallots, finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 500g chicken livers (see tip, below left, for how to prepare)
- 100ml Sauternes
- 100ml double cream
- 3 medium eggs, at room temperature
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- brioche or bread, toasted (or gluten free alternative), to serve
- cornichons, to serve
For the jelly
- 3 sheets leaf gelatine
- 250ml Sauternes
- 50g golden caster sugar
- a few thyme leaves (optional)
Melt the butter in a wide frying pan and add the shallots, herbs and some seasoning. Cook gently for 10 mins until very soft. Spoon the shallots into a food processor and discard the herbs; pour the butter into a jug, leaving 1 tbsp in the pan.
Turn up the heat in the pan and add the livers. Season and fry for 30 secs on each side or until just browned all over. They will still be very raw inside. Take out of the pan and put in the processor. Splash the Sauternes into the hot pan and reduce by half, scraping up any tasty bits as it bubbles. Tip onto the liver and shallots.
Process the livers until totally smooth. With the motor running, slowly pour in the cream and add the eggs, one by one, then the warm butter. Season with 2 tsp sea salt and some pepper, but don’t taste the mixture as it’s still raw. Pass through a sieve, using a spatula to help.
Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3 and boil a full kettle. Put 6 heatproof glass tumblers, small Kilner jars or large ramekins into a roasting tin. Pour the parfait into each one. Pour hot water around the parfaits, letting it come as far up the sides as is safe for you to carry. Bake for 45 mins until the parfaits have set without a wobble and risen a little in the middle. Cool at room temperature (I make this more speedy by filling the pan with cold water and letting the whole thing stand on a wire rack), then chill.
To make the jelly, soak the gelatine in cold water until it is totally floppy. Heat the wine and sugar until it dissolves, then remove from the heat. Squeeze out as much water from the gelatine as possible, then stir into the wine until totally dissolved. Set aside. When cooled but still liquid, pour this over the top of the parfaits, adding a few thyme leaves here and there. Leave to set in the fridge for at least 30 mins. Can be made up to 2 days ahead. Serve with toast and cornichons.
Preparing chicken livers
Use kitchen scissors to snip out anything that looks sinewy or greenish, trying to keep the lobe shapes as intact as you can. Pat them dry with kitchen paper before coating with flour if stated in the recipe.
As well as being rich in minerals, liver is a good source of B12, a vitamin which helps your body to use iron. It’s also high in vitamin A, important for healthy skin, hair and nails. However, if you’re pregnant, you should avoid eating liver, as too much vitamin A can be damaging to an unborn baby.