Duck livers with a crispy skin

The French, you will know well, rave about the livers of birds, notably that of the goose, but also that of the duck. Duck livers, too, are really the sort of food which you really have to love to like. There is no middle ground. But to eat them rare is not so much a matter of love, but adoration. That’s how I found them at the restaurant Girardet near Lausanne in Switzerland. This is one of the great restaurants of the world, and the crispy-skinned duck livers is one of the dishes most spoken about.

Fredy Girardet has the knack of serving the skin as crisp as a potato chip, the middle as soft and tender as butter. I tried many ways to find the secret. What follows is the closest and the best I could do. Even if you don’t achieve ultimate glory with the cooking, the combination of livers, raspberry vinegar, apples and tamarillos is a ripper.

4 teaspoons vegetable oil or mild olive oil

2 teaspoons raspberry vinegar


black pepper

2 livers per person; 3 would make for a substantial meal — Trim the livers of any excess fat and cut out any dubious green sludge.

a little of your favourite lettuce, washed and dried — Cos is a good choice.

1 sharp apple, peeled, cored, chopped into matchsticks and tossed in lemon juice

2 tamarillos, peeled — Tamarillos are often called tree tomatoes. They are sharp to the tongue, with a mild taste of tomato, but in truth they have a sweet-sour taste all their own. They are ideal for taking away the richness of game and liver.

small bunch of chives, chopped finely


Whisk the oil into the vinegar until it becomes a little fluffy, and is emulsified. Season with salt and black pepper. It should have a strong taste of raspberry. The fruit in the salad and the dressing are not there for show, but to ease the liver’s richness. The apple not only does that but adds much needed crunch to the dish.


Set the oven to its lowest mark.


Pat the livers as dry as possible with a tea-towel, and then paper towels. Leave for an hour on a wire rack, then dry again.


Place them, well separated, on a rack, and put them at the bottom of the oven for a few minutes. Turn them and leave for a few minutes longer.


You will need a very hot, heavy- bottomed pan, or a non-stick pan. When the pan is very hot, hit the livers very hard in the pan, using no oil. Work them around with a wooden spoon for about a minute, then turn them and do the same to the other side for about 30 seconds.


Leave them in the pan off the heat for about a minute, then remove. Slice one almost through to check its progress. It should be pink and juicy, not rare.


Toss the salad leaves and apple sticks with a little dressing. Slice the livers halfway through and toss through the dressing, so the dressing can enter the cuts. Spray the tamarillos all about. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

WINE: Liver does not suffer fools when it comes to wine there’s something about the richness and iodine flavour that knocks many wines for six. Try a good pinot noir with four to five years bottle age or a cool-area shiraz.