In the Italian town of San Casciano dei Bagni, I have a lot of old friends whom I met for the first time when I was a very young baker. We all got together thanks to the graciousness of the restaurateur Joe Allen (once a benefactor of mine and kind of royalty there), who invited me to use his house nearby. Silvestro Boni, part of the most prominent family in town, taught me to make a liver spread using the organs of veal, pig, and chicken. Back in the States, I figured I was better off just sticking with chicken liver as part of a spread that uses a few sweet ingredients to mute the power of the liver. I even like to mix shallots with onion—that might seem redundant, but shallots are sweeter and milder. Please note that in the original recipe that appears in the book, I typically use more chicken livers. I’ve listed the exact amount below.

Makes 6 to 8 toasts

10 grams (about 1 tablespoon) extra-virgin olive oil
120 grams (1 cup) diced onion
60 grams (½ cup) chopped shallots
60 grams (scant ½ cup) chopped celery
1 bay leaf
Fine sea salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
45 grams (1/3 cup) diced apple
15 grams (about ¼) unpeeled medium lemon, cut into
2 slices, seeded, and diced
15 grams (1½ tablespoons) drained capers
10 grams (about 1½ fillets) salt-packed anchovies (see page 17), rinsed and dried
450 grams (1 pound) chicken livers, rinsed, patted dry, and excess fat and veins removed
90 grams (scant 1/3 cup) sweet wine, such as Riesling or Marsala
6 to 8 slices crusty, slightly stale Italian bread, toasted
1 garlic clove, peeled

1. In a large heavy saucepan, heat the oil over low heat until hot. Add the onion, shallots, celery, and bay leaf, along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 20 minutes. Be careful not to let the vegetables burn.

2. Add the apple, lemon, and capers. Continue to cook, shaking the pan and stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes. Add the anchovies and livers. Do not stir; you want the livers to brown and the anchovies to break down. Cook for about 2 minutes.

3. Add the wine, stirring to dissolve the brown bits adhering to the bottom of the pan. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes to burn off the alcohol. Remove the bay leaf.

4. Scrape the mixture into a blender or food processor and pulse until the mixture is almost a puree but still has just a bit of texture. (If it seems too thick and pasty, add water to achieve the desired smoothness.) Scrape the liver mixture into a container. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.

5. Rub one side of each toast with the garlic and spread with a generous amount of the liver mixture.