Catherine de’ Medici and Liver

Maybe it’s better that this recipe hasn’t made it to modern times, but this dish was a favorite of Catherine de’ Medici’s in her quest to just finally have some damn kids.

Catherine de’ Medici

Who? Married King Henry II of France, daughter of the powerful Florentine Medici family and great niece of Pope Leo X, mother of King Charles IX and Henry III (indirectly responsible for St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of 1572, which killed thousands of French Protestants)
Lived: 1519 – 1589

Fun facts about Catherine de’Medici (and Henry II)

1. Had those so attractive protruding eyes characteristic of the Medici family, causing Henry II to be very disappointed when he lifted that veil
2. Henry II openly took mistresses during his marriage. His favorite mistress, Diane de Poitiers was 38 when he took her as his mistress at age 19. That’s not creepy at all, considering how she was his stand-in mother when he was exiled to Spain at age 7
(I can see how she won out)
3. Catherine’s position at court was precarious as she was a foreigner at the French court and technically, a commoner, albeit a rich one. Henry also allowed her no political influence as Queen, preferring to defer to his favorite mistress instead. This made her desperate to have children, which she didn’t have for ten years of marriage
4. In that time period, she tried all sorts of medieval bullshit to conceive children including putting cow dung and ground up stags’ antlers on her vagina and drinking mule’s urine.
(In other news, another Medieval ritual that still persists today is the annual Easter beating of women in the Czech Republic, meant to ensure that women stay fertile and beautiful. No women escape this, “because it’s considered rude to leave women out, even if she’s 70”. #notTheOnion)

5. She probably owes her ability to finally bear children to a physician who noticed abnormalities in the couples’ sex organs (aka Henry II had a deformed penis). After that was fixed (or maybe through the miraculous help of all that animal dung), she had 8 children like a good childbearing Medieval cow. I mean woman.
6. Brought the fork from Florence to France when she married Henry (How heathens were probably eating before the fork came around)


This was a recipe that Catherine de’ Medici and her crew of Florentine chefs brought with her from Italy to France. They sure are ridiculously hard to find, even in Chinatown where we eat all sorts of nonsense, like duck tongues and pig hooves. Finally found it in Hong Kong Supermarket, so just look for it in larger Chinese supermarkets.

Chicken liver is slimy bloody goodness, so rinse off the excess blood and chop it up into bite size pieces. Dry with paper towel and cover pieces thoroughly in flour. Have fun getting white gunk all over your fingers (that’s what he…never mind).

02 white gunk

Meanwhile, chop up onions and stir fry them in a ton of olive oil and sage on medium heat. After the onions have been cooked to just be translucent (not browned), remove from pan and now stir fry the chicken liver in the same pan with a ton of butter.


(oh yeah look at all that butter)

Don’t overcrowd the pan, so just cook a few pieces slightly and push them to the side before adding more. When the livers have all been slightly browned on the outside, add the onion to the pan, as well as chicken broth and salt and pepper to taste.

After constantly stirring for 10 minutes, the broth should be thickened. Whip up the egg yolks and lemon juice. Gradually pour the lemon juice/egg yolk mixture into the stew while stirring constantly on low heat.


Toast the bread and rub a small piece of garlic over the hot pieces. Spoon the stew on the bread and drizzle olive oil over it. Add pepper as needed.

Finished product:

12 (1)

(There’s only so much that Instagram filters can do with chicken livers and toast guys, it’s not a fancy meal even if it was made for a queen).

Verdict: Chicken livers are definitely not my favorite texture. Having had them as a kid, I always hated that metallic, bloody, dry taste and this dish only helped a little bit with that. I cheated a bit and also added some chicken gizzards and chicken hearts (told you Chinese supermarkets sell all kinds of weird meats), which definitely helped with the texture. Catherine de’ Medici, you can keep your dish in medieval France.

 2 imported forks out of 5

fork rating

This dish is actually served in some Tuscan home cooked style restaurants today, as well as in France, called finanziera. If you guys want to try this on your metaphorical time machine, recipe is as follows:

Ingredients (6 – 8 servings):

1 lb of chicken livers (also some chicken hearts and gizzards for texture, per Liz’s recommendation), cut into bite size pieces
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 chopped onion
6 leaves of sage (or 1 tbsp of crushed sage spice)
1.75 oz of butter
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 egg yolks
½ lemon
1 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper as needed
Whole grain toast or crusty country bread
Small piece of garlic

Let’s Cook This:

  1. Gently fry the onion and sage leaves in 1 tbsp of oil without letting it brown on low heat
  2. Chop up the livers and other chicken innards into bite size pieces. Dry off the pieces and coat thoroughly with flour.
  3. Remove onion from pan and cook flour coated innard pieces without crowding the pan on moderate heat until the pieces are cooked on the outside. Stir constantly to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the onions back to the pan and add salt and pepper to taste. Add the chicken broth and continue to stir for 10 minutes.
  5. Beat the egg yolks with lemon juice. Slowly pour this mixture to the stew, continuing to stir constantly. Turn off heat.
  6. Toast or grill the pieces of bread. Rub the hot pieces with a small piece of garlic.
  7. Top the toast off with the stew, olive oil, and grated pepper. And then INSTAGRAM THAT SHIT #foodtimemachine

Sources: La storia è servita: vizi e virtù nel piatto dei grandi della storia by Mariangela Rinaldi (yes, I put that whole book through Google Translate) and a modern interpretation of cibreo 

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