Chopped Chicken Livers
Published by HarperCollins
I have had this favorite Friday night appetizer in other homes and in many restaurants, but I have never come across a version quite like my family’s. It is much coarser, crumblier, and leaner than most, although my mother occasionally ground it very fine if she wanted to serve it as a spread, or if she wanted to mold it into a ring for a party. My grandmother used to broil the livers because it was the traditional way to kosher organ meats; my mother did so because she liked the flavor it imparted to the final result. Sometimes, however, she sautéed them, and both methods follow.
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionCocktail Party, Family Get-together
Recipe Courseappetizer, hors d'oeuvre, snack
Dietary Considerationappetizer, hors d'oeuvre, snack
Taste and Texturecreamy, meaty, rich, savory
Type of Dishdip/spread
- 1 pound chicken livers (approximately 16 livers)
- Kosher (coarse) salt
- 2 extra-large eggs, hard cooked and roughly cut up
- 1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
- ½ to ½ cup griebenes (cracklings), optional but sensational
- 3 to 4 tablespoons schmaltz (rendered chicken fat), or as needed
- 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
- Garnishes: Sliced or grated black or white radishes or black radish and onion conserve
Trim the chicken livers, removing any bits of fat adhering to them. It is not really necessary to remove the connective tissue. Dampen a large, clean sheet of brown wrapping paper by quickly passing both sides under cold running water. Place the wet paper on the broiler pan. Arrange the livers on the paper, leaving a little space between each. Sprinkle liberally with coarse salt. Broil for about 10 minutes, watching carefully to make sure the edges of the paper are wet enough to prevent them from burning. Moisten if necessary. You will not need to turn the livers over. They are done when the tops are brown but not black and the inside is firm but still faintly pink near the bottom.
Remove the livers from the paper, and brush off excess salt if any clings to them. The livers may be chopped on a board with a French chef’s knife, or they can be chopped as my mother did them—in a big wooden bowl with a curved hand chopper, somewhat like a lunette. Cut up the livers coarsely and add the roughly cut-up eggs, coarsely chopped onion, and griebenes. Chop steadily until the mixture is well blended. The final texture should not be too fine, but rather like medium-fine chopped nuts. As you chop, add salt and pepper, tasting as you go along. The end result should be quite peppery and well salted.
Gently mix in only as much chicken fat as necessary to make the mixture hold together enough to be picked up on a fork. Since the mixture will be chilled, it will hold together more than when it was warm, so do not add too much fat. Pack into a crock or bowl, cover, and chill.
Chopped liver tastes better if it’s allowed to chill for several hours before it is served, and I much prefer it after 24 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 15 minutes before serving.
Serve on lettuce, garnished with sliced or grated radishes or with the black radish and onion relish. Matzohs were considered essential to this dish, but crackers or toast can be substituted.
If you prefer, the livers can be sautéed instead of being broiled. To do this, place 3 or 4 tablespoons rendered chicken fat in a 10- to 12-inch skillet and slowly sauté the livers until they are firm and golden brown and just a tiny bit pink at the center. Place the livers and any of the sautéing fat that remains in the pan in the chopping bowl, and proceed with the recipe as above. In this case, it will probably not be necessary to add chicken fat at the end, but more salt will be needed.
To make a finer blend, to be served as a cocktail spread, put the livers, onions, eggs, and griebenes through the fine blade of a grinder twice, and add a little more fat This method is best if you want to shape the liver in a mold. Grease an 8-inch ring mold lightly on the inside with mild flavored vegetable oil. Then pack the liver mixture in firmly and chill for at least 5 hours, but preferably 24. Unmold onto a platter and garnish with radishes. A bouquet of curly, dark green chickory is a nice touch in the center of the ring.
1979, 1991 by Mimi Sheraton