Chicken liver: a chameleon-like, whipped meat that can be at times so common as to sit next to the gefilte fish at a deli, and so elegant as to grace a plate at a three-star restaurant. Whether served in high or low cuisine, the taste and texture of the dish is always downright affluent.
Bryce Shuman’s version at Betony ($19) is a wanton ball of liver, butter, cream and brandy, shiny with a glaze of schmaltz, caraway shortbread and parsley. Accompanied with celery, crumbles of chicken skin, apple puree and dried apple chips, the tart fruit mercifully cuts through all that richness.
Shuman says the inspiration behind his version reflects the duality of his lean years as a starving chef, and his time toiling within the elite kitchen of Eleven Madison Park. He recalls Sundays roasting whole chickens, then living off the bird for a week via sandwiches, soup, snacks of chicharrones, and his favorite, the liver mouse. The glaze and ornamental presentation is all Eleven Madison — an idea that struck him as he watched the pastry chef finesse a dessert.
Opened last May, the Midtown restaurant quickly earned three stars from The New York Times, while chef Shuman’s skill for transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary caused us to name Betony as one of our “keepers” of 2013.
41 W. 57th St.