Chopped liver

April 13, 2011

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Makes 2 cups or enough to serve 6

Chopped liver is served during the Passover holiday with matzo. The basic ingredients are chicken livers (or a mixture of chicken and beef liver), onions, and hard-cooked eggs. At one time, the onions were cooked in schmaltz (rendered chicken fat), and mixed with boiled, broiled, or sauteed livers and chopped in a wooden bowl or put through a hand-crank grinder. Today, onions are likely to be cooked in vegetable oil. A food processor has replaced the hand devices. I use my great Aunt Rose’s wooden bowl and a double blade chopper because I prefer a rougher texture and I remember her when I use her bowl. I use the fat from the top of chilled chicken soup as schmaltz. The taste is pure nostalgia.

2 eggs
1 pound chicken livers
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (or 2 tablespoons vegetable oil plus 1 tablespoon chicken fat)
1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Pepper, to taste

1. In a saucepan of boiling water, lower the eggs and cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes exactly. Transfer to very cold water, peel off a band of shell from the eggs, and let them cool in cold water. Peel all the shells.

2. Trim any fat from the chicken livers. Separate them into single lobes.

3. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil (add chicken fat, if using). Add the onions and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes until they begin to soften. Sprinkle with salt and sugar. Continue cooking, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until the onions are soft and browned. With a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a food processor.

4. Add the chicken livers to the skillet. Spread them so they make one even layer. Saute for 3 minutes. With tongs, turn the livers and cook 3 minutes more. They should be firm. Transfer the livers to a plate to cool for 5 minutes.

5. Add the eggs to the food processor. Pulse 3 or 4 times just until chopped. Transfer to a bowl.

6. Add the chicken livers and onions to the food processor. Pulse 7 or 8 times until you have a coarse consistency. Add the liver mixture and pepper to the eggs. Stir to blend well. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. If the mixture is dry, add a little oil, chicken schmaltz, or mayonnaise.

Debra Samuels