Learning to like liver

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Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into a large skillet and set over high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Add shallots and garlic. Cook golden brown, about 1 minute. Add the Madeira and port, give the pan a good shake, then scrape the mixture into a small bowl. Set aside.

Wipe the pan out with a paper towel. Set it over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil. When the oil begins to smoke, pat the livers dry and add them to the pan. Cook until the undersides are golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Turn them over and sprinkle on about 1 teaspoon salt, then give the pan a shake. Cook the livers just until they feel bouncy, like little balloons, about 30 seconds. You want them slightly pink inside, not rare.

Turn off heat. Add shallot mixture, liquid and all. Shake the pan, stirring and scraping to loosen the crispy brown bits on the bottom. Scrape the contents of the pan into a bowl. Cool a few minutes.

Drizzle about 1 tablespoon olive oil over the liver mixture and sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon salt and a couple twists black pepper. Use a large spoon to mash the livers until some of the mash is creamy and some is still a little chunky. Stir in parsley. Cool to room temperature.

Toast or grill the bread until crispy but soft in the middle. Drizzle toasts with a little olive oil, spread on a generous amount of the liver mixture, and serve straightaway.

Adapted from "A girl and her pig," by April Bloomfield

Leah Eskin is a Tribune Newspapers special contributor. Email her at leahreskin@aol.com

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