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Monday, July 8, 2013

So What Am I???

Big guy recently bought a tub of chopped chicken liver at the market.  He had seen it for sale and promised himself some next time he went there, which was last week.  He said the chopped liver was good (I did not have any) but the texture was too fine.

We used to eat at Carson's Ribs in Chicago.  Alas, while there once was a branch in nearly every nearby city or neighborhood, they have all closed and only the downtown location (and one in Milwaukee, and one in Deerfield) remains.  Carson's is good but not good enough to double the bill with transportation and parking costs.  But we surely miss the complimentary and excellent chopped liver that was available in the bar.  Grab a plate and load up with rye bread, chopped liver and toppings of minced onion & egg.

Carson's liver was more coarsely textured.  Closer to what I used to make "back in the day".  We did not have a food processor so of necessity I mashed the poached livers with a fork for a chunky-smooth spread spiked with onion, butter & hard cooked egg.  Here's how to make it.

Dice an onion or two as fine as you like.  Saute in melted butter - use chicken fat (schmaltz) if you're kosher or if you prefer it - until onions are turning golden and are very limp.  Cooked longer, they will turn sweeter.  Add a good amount of chicken livers.  Cut them into smaller pieces if you wish.  Simmer until the livers are cooked through but are still soft enough to mash with a fork.  Season judiciously with kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper.  Meanwhile, boil a couple of eggs (instructions follow).

Turn the livers into a bowl and mash them with a fork until as smooth as you like.  If you must use a food processor, pulse in several short bursts rather than letting it run continuously, until as smooth or chunky as you prefer.  Add the egg and mash into the spread with the fork (or food processor).

If you wish to serve this later you can melt some additional schmaltz and pour it over the top to seal it.  Stir it into the spread at serving or just nudge it aside.  Serve with bagels, Challah or rye bread or crackers for spreading.  Serve finely minced onion and chopped egg for garnish, if you like.

To make schmaltz, save bits of chicken fat from any whole or cut up chicken you are preparing.  I just slice off the fattier bits of skin and put it aside.  Dice the pieces and render the fat over low - medium heat in a heavy skillet, pouring off the fat as it accumulates.  Strain or not, as you desire.  The leftover bits or "cracklings" are known as gribenes.  These can be added to the chopped liver, used as a garnish, or eaten out of hand, like peanuts.

To make perfect hard cooked eggs fill a pan just large enough to hold the number of eggs with cold water.  Pierce the wide end of the egg with a push pin or an egg piercer, if you wish, and place in the pan.  Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer about a minute, then turn off the heat, cover the pan and let it stand at least 13 minutes.  Drain and fill the pan with cold water and let stand until eggs are completely cool, or until needed.  I like to tap the shell to crack it all around and let it stand in the cold water for a while, which seems to make peeling easier.


Quotable quotes; in the category But The Chopped Liver Was Just Right!

"Don't be too sweet, lest you be eaten up; don't be too bitter, lest you be spewed out."  Jewish Proverb.

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