Time: 45 minutes
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup panko
4 ounces speck or smoky bacon, diced
1/4 cup minced shallots
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 pound well-trimmed chicken livers, in 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup, or slightly more, chicken stock
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
12 ounces soba noodles
2 tablespoons minced cilantro leaves.
1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet; add panko, and cook until golden. Remove from pan. Set aside. Wipe out pan. Add 2 more tablespoons oil, heat, and add the speck or bacon. Cook over medium heat until starting to brown. Remove to a bowl, leaving as much fat as possible in pan.
2. Add shallots, and sauté until soft; add mushrooms, and cook until wilted and starting to brown. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl with the speck. Toss livers with flour. Add remaining oil to pan, add livers, and cook, stirring gently, over medium heat, until firmed up, lightly browned but still pink inside. Transfer livers to a board and dice.
3. Add stock to pan, and cook, stirring, until reduced by half; stir in vinegar and return mushroom mixture and livers to pan. Heat briefly and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for soba, cook about 6 minutes and drain, but not too thoroughly. Fold moist noodles into chicken liver mixture and heat gently, adding a little more chicken stock as needed. Serve, topping each portion with panko and cilantro.
Yield: 4 servings.