What Am I? Chopped Liver!!! ~ The Garden of Eating - a sinfully good blog about food

Monday, July 7, 2008

What Am I? Chopped Liver!!!

Although chopped liver may have a reputation for being ordinary or second-class, I think it is anything but! I have loved this rich and toothsome Jewish-American version of pâté since I was a kid. A delicious chicken liver & herb crostini appetizer I recently tried at Corso Trattoria reminded me how much I love chopped liver. So I decided to make a batch.

Since one of the liver's jobs is filtering out the body's toxins, it seemed extra worthwhile to make sure that the livers I used were from the healthiest animals possible. Finding organic chicken livers proved a tad challenging but after making a few phone calls, Whole Foods came through. They had just ordered a bunch in response to customer demand -- apparently I was not the only one requesting organic chicken livers -- go figure...

homemade chopped liver on toast

The recipe below is one I'd clipped a while back from Martha Stewart Living (despite the fact that Martha has carefully cultivated an ultra WASPy image, her magazine often includes good recipes for Jewish dishes.) I consulted several other recipes online and in my Jewish Holiday cookbook before getting started and found them to be nearly identical to Martha's recipe. The main difference between them was that Martha's recipe calls for you to cook the livers in the same pan as the onions, while the others direct you to broil the chicken livers.

This recipe also calls for rendered chicken fat (a.k.a. schmaltz) although I am sure you can substitute oil or butter if you don't happen to have any schmaltz on hand. Luckily, I had roasted a chicken recently and saved the schmaltz for just this purpose. I did this by letting the chicken stock cool down completely in the fridge and simply skimming the hardened fat off the top.

mmmm, schmaltz!

Chopped Chicken Liver
Serves 8


* 1/4 cup rendered chicken fat (schmaltz)
* 2 medium onions, chopped
* 1 pound organic chicken livers, trimmed and rinsed
* 2 teaspoons coarse salt
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 1/4 cup Marsala wine
* 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, washed, dried and coarsely chopped
* 2 large eggs (free range organic), hard-boiled

Bread or crackers for serving


1. Heat the chicken fat in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook stirring often until they are translucent - 8 - 10 minutes.

2. Add the livers and sprinkle with salt and pepper then cover and cook, stirring often, until cooked through - about 12 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

3. Place skillet over medium heat and deglaze with the Marsala and thyme. Cook, stirring, until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Let cool completely.

4. Pour the pan juices, liver and onion mixture, and hardboiled eggs into the bowl of a cuisinart or blender (you can also do this the authentic way, using a cleaver, if you prefer). Pulse the mixture until coarsely chopped and season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Serve on crackers or toast. Batampte!

chopped liver


Jewish Odysseus said...

Eve, nice recipe, I'm going to make some CCL after grilling the livers in one of those non-stick grill pans w/all the holes...Made plenty of fresh schmaltz for it, too.

I saw an intriguing recipe that said to prepare the schmaltz w/bits of chopped apples. then strain them out...Maybe next time?


stamp said...

They may suggest broiling the liver as a method of koshering it.

I just wrote a post about schmaltz and I used your photo with a link-back. Hope you don't mind- if so, let me know and I'll take it down!
: )

Reb Mordechai said...

Like Stamp, I also used your Shmaltz photo. If you have any objections I'll remove it.

BTW, According to halacha (Jewish law) the liver has to be soaked, salted and roasted over a fire or grilled before use.

It is technically treif when raw as it is soaked in blood. All tools used to roast liver should be used exclusively for that purpose.

Please note that cooking liver in any other way is forbidden according to halacha and will turn the pans and kitchen tools treif.

The Rabbis discuss an old Polish tradition of placing raw chicken livers on the saucepan lids of the chicken soups on the fire on Friday afternoon before Shabbos. The conclusion is that this is also forbidden even though the practice was apparently quite wide spread amongst less educated Polish Jewish women of the 19th and erly 20th century.

Here in Israel you can buy ready flamed whole livers and minced in the supermarkets. I assume if you go to Orthodox areas in America you can get the same thing there.