Friday, February 26, 2010

Chopped Liver

When making chopped liver, you have a choice. If you’re looking for a finely grained paté, you should use a food processor to purée the ingredients. But if you prefer (as I do) the traditional method that my grandmother used, then you’ll want to chop the liver by hand. The result is a nicely rustic spread.

3 eggs
1 large onion
1 small onion
1 lb chicken livers
olive oil
kosher salt

1. Hard-boil the eggs (see tip below).

2. Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Chop the large onion finely and sauté it in the oil until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside. Meanwhile, chop the small onion finely and set aside.

3. Rinse and pat-dry the chicken livers. Using the same skillet (and adding a little more oil, if necessary), sauté the livers over medium heat until firm but still a touch pink in the center, about 4 minutes. (Overcooking the livers makes them tough.) Set aside.

4. Once the livers have cooled, chop them coarsely on a large cutting board. Add the hard-boiled eggs and continue chopping. Add the cooked onion and continue chopping, mixing the ingredients together as you go. Add some of the raw onion and continue chopping. Season with salt and taste. To adjust the flavor, add more raw onion or salt. To adjust the texture, add more olive oil. Continue chopping and mixing until the spread reaches a consistency that you like.

• Here is a foolproof way to hard-boil eggs: place them in a single layer in a small saucepan with enough cold water to cover them by two inches. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let the eggs cook an additional 15 minutes. Then rinse them in cold water to stop the cooking process.

• In the old country (by which I mean the Bronx), chopped liver was made not with olive oil but with schmaltz (rendered chicken fat). Should you be roasting a chicken any time soon, save and refrigerate the fat that collects in the bottom of the roasting pan and use it instead of the olive oil.

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