Liver. In popular American culture this word is usually accompanied by a child making a face of disgust and followed by a sneer of “yuck”. Being the unusual child that I was I have always loved liver although I didn’t always know I was eating it. My mother used to make me liverwurst sandwiches. When I was about 4 I asked her if there was liver in them and when she said no, I asked why it was called liverwurst. She replied that the city of Livermore (the next town over) wasn’t made of liver and I accepted this explanation as totally rational. I never bought the whole tooth fairy thing, but this I believed for a shockingly long time. It wasn’t until I entered 1st grade and started eating lunch at school that I discovered that most children find liver disgusting, but by then I developed a taste for it. As an adult I find myself periodically craving liver (this is probably due to my near constant state of iron-deficiency). I love it when there is one left inside of a whole chicken that I can fry up for a little snack and one of the greatest lunches I have ever had was a fried chicken liver po’ boy at Mahoney’s in New Orleans that Gordon and I split along with a cochon de’lait po’ boy (the ultimate in trayfe). It was a heart attack on a plate, with onion rings and an Abita beer on the side, but it was worth every moment of my lifespan I gave up. Marc and all his food intolerance chickened out and ended up eating a salad somewhere down the street. He may live longer as a result but I still dream of that sandwich.
Chopped chicken liver has been a staple of Jewish delis since they were invented (if you have ever seen the chopped chicken liver sandwich at Katz’s you’ve seen the holy grail of chopped chicken liver) I remember my mother making it once with an old hand-crank meat grinder. At some point everyone realized how bad it is for you and stopped making it, but once or twice a year we would go to Max’s and we would order it. Now that we have discovered that all things that taste really good are bad for you and some of the things we thought were better for you were actually making us obese (hello margarine) I decided that chopped chicken liver was coming out of my kitchen once again. Luckily I had two loaves of rye bread just dying for an accompaniment and two Rocky Jr. Liver Cups in the fridge. The cup is one pound of livers from organic sustainably farmed chickens. It also just sound like the prize to a NASCAR race and I am always trying to think of an event where it can be the trophy.
recipe after the jump
Many recipes call for the livers to be boiled or broiled prior to sauteing, but this is only necessary if you care about the livers being kosher. If you do choose to go this route stir another tablespoon or two of schmaltz to the final mixture or it will be somewhat dried out.
Chopped Chicken Liver
- 1 lb chicken livers
- 1 onion diced
- 1-2 hard boiled eggs*
- 2 Tbs schmaltz (rendered chicken fat)
- salt and pepper to taste
- rye bread
- additional grilled onion or hard boiled egg for accompaniment
- Lay out your liver on paper towels to remove any excess moisture and sprinkle with salt.
- In a skillet melt the schmaltz and saute the onions over low heat until soft and golden then set the onion aside. If necessary add more schmaltz and saute the livers over medium heat, turning once until they browned on the outside and slightly pink on the inside (about 5 minutes). Let the livers cool for a few minutes.
- Chop the chicken livers and eggs and mix with the onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with rye bread and grilled sliced onions or hard boiled egg slices.
Notes on chopping: Chopping can be done by hand, in a food processor or with a meat grinder. If using a meat grinder use the coarse plate. If using a food processor pulse only a few times to avoid a puree.
* My fool-proof method for hard boiling eggs (I think it came from Martha Stewart) is to place eggs in cool water and as soon as it comes to a boil, remove from the heat and cover. After 20 minutes you will have perfect eggs.