By Nadav Soroker
Florence, Italy – “Local delicacy” seems to be coded slang for something that you have been socialized to find objectionable, and people know it. Take, for example, crostini neri or crostini de fegatini, two names for the same crunchy toast covered in a dark paté of warm, meaty, deliciously-salty goodness. This Florentine food is a traditional antipasti or appetizer, and is served in many of the restaurants in the city.
Made with a chicken liver, anchovies, capers and herbs, crostini neri has a strong, thick smell that is the equal of its salty, oily components. Spread as a thick paste over freshly toasted slices of bread, the antipasti was a perfect opener while waiting for my meal, in this case an equally thick Bistecca Fiorentina, one of the local platter-sized T-bone steaks.
The local delicacy part revealed itself when it arrived at the table, and myself and all my food-writing, freewheeling friends and I each grabbed a crostini, or for the less brave, sliced off a little piece. It wasn’t until our last member tried to take a bite that we heard anything other than appreciation: after barely a nibble, the smell overwhelmed her and she gagged. If you let your mind wander a bit, Crostini Neri’s smell is directly and irredeemably comparable to warm cat food.
I, however, had no problems finishing off the salty plate and washing it down with a glass of red wine; though maybe that is what helped it taste so good.
Try this at home:
Crostini Neri at Trattoria Mama Gina
Ingredients for 6 toasts
12 ounces chicken liver, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon capers, chopped finely
3 anchovy fillets, chopped finely
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
White wine, as needed
Chicken stock, as needed
6 pices wholewheat bread
Salt & pepper to taste
Saute chopped onion with olive oil and butter. Add the chicken liver, continue to cook for 30 minutes over medium heat, adding wine to keep from burning. Remove livers from pan, place on a chopping-board and chop more finely. Put livers back into the saucepan, add the capers and anchovies. Cook adding some stock, season to taste. Spread the mixture on the toasted slices of bread which can be wetted quickly, only on one side in the stock.
Recipe from Trattoria Mama Gina, Florence