Special Tools or Equipment Needed:
- Food processor
- Shallow baking sheet and roasting rack
- 3 generous cups fresh bread crumbs (Use all white or a combination of white, soft rye and or whole wheat.)
- 1 stick butter
- 3/4 cup minced yellow onion
- 1/3 cup minced celery
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup minced water chestnuts
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves (or use 1/2 teaspoon crumbled aromatic dried thyme)
- 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf Italian parsley
- 1/2 pound fresh chicken livers, (rinsed well, drained, with any connective tissue cut away and the livers dried gently with paper towel)
- 1 cup rich, well seasoned Chicken Stock or "doctored" *canned broth
- 1 extralarge egg, lightly beaten
- Salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (approximately)
- 2 1/2 pounds thin sliced packaged bacon
- To secure the bacon rolls: wooden tooth picks
For the bread crumbs: Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Tear the bread into pieces (leave the crusts on) and place in the bowl of your food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until of fine crumb consistency (see note). Measure your bread crumbs (3 generous cups) and place on a shallow baking sheet. Place in the oven and set your timer for 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, check the crumbs. They should feel dry with a light golden color. If still soft, swish them around to redistribute and place back into the oven for a few minutes and check again but don't allow them to scorch. Remove from the oven and pour the crumbs into a bowl.
Note: Generally, between 5 and 6 slices of bread will yield 1 cup of crumbs.
To prepare the stuffing: Melt 3 tablespoons butter in an 8inch skillet over medium heat. When the butter is hot and bubbling, stir in the minced onions, celery and garlic. Saute the vegetables until softened and fragrant 3minutes. Stir in the minced water chestnuts and thyme. Cook gently for one more minute just to release the flavor of the thyme. Stir in the parsley and remove from the stove. Pour the contents of the skillet into the bowl with the crumbs and fold together to combine. Replace the skillet to the stove over medium heat and melt 2 more tablespoons of butter. When hot, add the chicken livers in a single layer and sear on both sides until golden. Reduce the flame, cover and simmer for 2 minutes just to cook through. (Avoid overcooking the liver. They should retain pinkness in the center.) Uncover the skillet, raise the heat and cook just a bit to caramelize the bits of onion and liver that cling to the bottom of the skillet. Remove the livers to a cutting surface and allow them to cool slightly. Meanwhile, pour the butter out of the skillet but do not wipe out the interior. Place the skillet back over medium heat and pour in the chicken stock. Bring the stock to a boil and reduce by 1/2 as you occasionally scrape any bits of caramelized liver and vegetables up off the bottom of the pan. While the stock reduces, chop the chicken livers into small but still textural pieces making sure they don't become "pastelike". Fold into the bowl of crumbs. When not more than 1/2 cup of stock remains in the skillet, remove from the stove and *swirl in the remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Pour the reduced and concentrated stock/butter mixture into the bowl of crumbs and when just warm, stir in the beaten egg. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
To work with bacon: Lift small walnut sized portions of the stuffing mixture and gently squeeze to help the crumbs bind together. Roll each portion into a ball and place on a tray. Cut your packages of bacon in half widthwise using sharp kitchen shears. Take two pieces of bacon (equal to 1 whole piece) and lay them in a "crisscross" on your work surface. Continue assembling as many pairs of bacon strips as can comfortably fit on your work surface.
To assemble bacon rolls: Brush the exposed (facing up) side of the bacon lightly with some maple syrup. Take one ball of stuffing and place in the center where the two pieces of bacon cross and overlap. Wrap the exposed bacon around the stuffing alternating with the bottom, side, top and side strips. Secure the roll with one or two tooth picks. If not baking right away, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
To roast: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the stuffed bacon rolls on a roasting rack that sits over a shallow baking sheet. Roast them in a preheated oven until crisp and piping hot throughout, about 30 to 35 minutes (see TimeManagement Tip). Serve hot or at least warm.
Note: Since you might not be able to fit all of these on one rack, either roast in two batches or use two baking sheets (with racks) and roast in the upper and lower thirds of the oven (switching after half the prescribed baking time).
The bacon rolls may be partially roasted (for 20 minutes) up to two hours ahead and left at a comfortable room temperature until being finished off right before serving.
ReducedFat Tips: Although (for a special occasion) the full amount of butter in this recipe will yield the most delicious results, you can lessen the overall amount of "saturated fat" in the stuffing by substantially reducing the amount of butter.
When sauteing the vegetables, omit the butter entirely and instead, use rich (defatted) chicken stock to braise them until tender.
Instead of using butter to saute the chicken livers, use either olive or canola oil.
Reduce the amount of butter from 3 tablespoons to 1 when swirling into the reduced chicken stock.