Crostini with Chicken Liver Pâté (Crostini di Fegatini)

>> Friday, March 22, 2013


On our third day of marriage, Joe and I stepped out into the dusty September heat of Tuscany and drove up mighty switchbacks, buttressed by fieldstone walls, into the fortress town of Cortona. Our ears popped over and over on the way up, till we were perched on a nearly-vertical cobblestone street looking out over the dry patchwork hills of the Valdichiana valley. The homes rose from each level like yellow towers; tiny walled gardens nestled in courtyards.

Neither of us had heard of Frances Mayes' book "Under the Tuscan Sun", so we were able to enjoy the city through our own eyes, rather than her descriptions.

Cortona, Piazza della Republica

We said we were looking for lunch, but we were really just looking. In the Piazza della Republica, the stone steps of the town hall spread wide, and teenagers giggled with each other on the steps. American and German tourists, in khakis and fanny packs, plopped down to study their maps. The enormous clock on the bell tower looked older than the United States. It still tells the correct time.

Cortona, Piazza della Republica

After lunch, we asked directions from three different people to find a grocery store. We needed supplies for the week we'd spend at the villa. But here there were no supermarkets. We asked for a drogheria and ended up in a place that sells things like light bulbs and laundry soap, which we actually did need because our luggage went to Pisa while we went to Creti.

So we stopped into a bakery and got fresh panini with rosemary, then bought peaches, tomatoes, and blackberries from a street vendor. Later we found wild boar salami and pecorino cheese with shaved black truffles, and we ate these things for breakfast every day.

Cortona Enoteca

Cortona had a slightly touristy feel. The buildings in the center of town were mostly three or four stories tall with cafes and shops on the ground floor. The homes above were shuttered against the sun. We shopped for Italian pottery and a glass oil and vinegar cruet.

Joe found a wine shop with a very enthusiastic clerk who was studying for an Italian wine-seller's certification. He made some impressive recommendations. One was a 1997 Brunello di Montalcino that we decided to save for our first anniversary.

Alley to a private Tuscan courtyard

After touring some gorgeous churches, we rested our feet in a park with stone seats set into the side of the hill, amphitheater style. Workers were setting up trusses for an outdoor movie screen. Beyond it was a rank of ancient trees outlining a stone stage. Through the trees at the end of the park, the sun began to sink, washing the buildings with peach, then gold, then orange.

Cortona sunset

Earlier in the day we had passed a restaurant on a narrow side street. There were only two little tables on a balcony outside. "I want to eat dinner there," Joe said, so we headed across the town that was just waking up to the evening. Shutters were opening, the old ladies gathered with old ladies, the old men smoked at cafe tables, and the children ran in and out of the courtyards. Techno-pop music spilled out into the streets.

Cortona side street

We were the first people at the trattoria and we got the balcony table we hoped for. As we decided on an antipasti, a big group of Italian men poured into the restaurant. The waiter told us it was a local soccer team.

"What is crostini di fegatini?" We asked, not finding it in our Italian dictionary.
"It is like a pâté."
"We love pâté!"
"It is not exactly pâté. It is made from chicken...I will bring it. You'll like."

Joe at dinner in Cortona

We did indeed like it. We also found that it is very easy to make, and every bite reminds us of that wonderful night in Cortona.

Crostini with Chicken Liver Pate (Crostini di Fegatini)


1 small baguette, thinly sliced
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp capers, drained and rinsed
6 chicken livers
1/3 cup Vin Santo or other sweet white wine
2 small de-boned anchovy fillets, or 2 tbsp anchovy paste
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the oil in a frying pan, then saute the onions until soft. Stir in the garlic and capers and saute about 2 minutes longer. Cut the livers and anchovies into small pieces and saute with the onion mixture until the livers are no longer pink. Pour in the wine and simmer gently for 10 minutes.

Brush the baguette rounds with oil and heat on a baking pan in the oven until warm but not toasted, about 5-8 minutes. Keep warm until the pâté is finished.

Place the mixture in a food processor or blender and process until it is a smooth paste, adding the broth and stirring as it processes. Cut the butter into tiny pieces and process into the paste, along with the salt and pepper.

Spread the pâté on the bread and serve. A cool, full-bodied white wine will complement this appetizer.

Serves 10.


Post a Comment

Talk to us - we love hearing from our readers!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by 2009

Back to TOP