Click here to view recipe.
The title of this post will likely not appeal to most of you — unless, of course, you ate chopped liver for holiday celebrations throughout your life. Such is the case with me; a Jewish holiday (Passover or Rosh Hashana) wasn’t complete without a huge bowl of chopped liver to spread on matzo or challah. I recently made a batch for a close friend who had surgery. He’s an excellent cook and I know he loves my chopped liver, so I baked a fresh challah and delivered both to his house the day he came home from the hospital – likely something a little different from the traditional flower bouquet. He called 30 minutes later and gushed that the liver tasted great and that he had reserved a portion for a chopped liver sandwich the next day!
To be clear, chopped liver is NOT liver pate. It is never made with butter (heaven forbid) or sherry or anything fancy, and it has more texture than liver pate. This particular recipe veers from the original method in that I have substituted canola oil for chicken fat (shmaltz). I will confess that at times I make the liver with shmaltz, but that would be a non-starter for even the most avid chicken liver fans. Some folks fry the livers but I take the easy way out and broil them.
The chopped liver I prepare begins with 100% organic chicken liver. The liver as an organ filters all toxins from an animal’s body, so non-organic chicken liver contains byproducts of antibiotics or hormones given to conventionally raised poultry. If you eat a little bit of organic chopped liver from time to time it helps build red blood cells, and it is high in vitamin B12 and vitamin A. Yes, it contains cholesterol, but everything in moderation.
Some use calves or beef liver, but I prefer 100 per cent chicken liver. My cooking mantra is to, whenever possible, use recipes from someone who has made a particular food (especially an ethnic dish) for a long time. When it comes to Jewish foods, I highly recommend finding a Bubbie (Yiddish for grandmother) and watching her make the food you crave. Watch carefully – Bubbies don’t usually use recipes. And now I am a Bubbie, so I have some credibility here! True to form this is the first time I really quantified this recipe!
Chopped Chicken Liver
Makes about 2 cups
- 1 lb organic chicken livers
- 1 large sweet (walla walla) onion, peeled and diced ¼ inch (you should have at least 2 cups of diced onion)
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 grinds of fresh ground pepper
- 2 hard boiled eggs, peeled
Rinse the livers well with fresh water, drain in strainer and pat very dry with a fresh kitchen towel. Clean the livers by tearing away any yellow fat or stringy membranes, discarding any visible fat, green parts, or membrane.
Put the livers in a single layer in an oiled, foil-lined rimmed pan. Sprinkle with salt and broil 5 inches from the heat. Turn the liver with a tongs after 10-15 minutes to expose the uncooked side, sprinkle a little more salt and continue to broil until the livers are no longer pink inside (approximately another 10 minutes). For this small amount, I used my toaster oven. Sometimes you will hear a “popping” noise to indicate they are ready to turn. Cool the livers for ½ hour.
Meanwhile, in an 8 inch sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat and add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium low heat until golden caramelized, about 25 minutes. Cool. Combine the broiled livers in this pan after they are cooked so the onions can infuse the livers.
Chop the onions with the livers in a food processor, making it as chunky or smooth as you like (I prefer in between). I then empty the processor. You don’t need to wash the machine; just chop the eggs, reserving a bit for garnish. Add all but one Tbsp of the eggs, onions and livers together and season to taste. Use the remaining chopped egg to garnish the top.
One of my pet peeves is chicken liver (or any food for that matter) that lacks salt or taste. You can either mold this by pressing into a round bowl then inverting onto a lettuce lined plate or you can simply put it into a bowl and top with the reserved chopped egg.
My family loves this with slices of fresh challah or pumpernickel bread! And chopped liver sandwiches with lettuce are a treat if any remains after the meal.
If you are adventurous or a purist, you can substitute chicken fat (shmaltz) for the canola. It tastes out of this world but I find that with enough onion, the canola tastes just fine.
A final aside… many of you may have heard the phrase, “What am I, chopped liver??” This popular expression of frustration has always made me smile as I LOVE chopped liver. So I am laying down the gauntlet and giving you the Chopped Liver Challenge! I Hope you try it – you just might like it.