Go Ahead, Be a Chicken!



While I'm a fan of traditional chopped liver, I have a special place in my heart for chicken livers. There are those who think eating "organ" meat is, well, icky.

However, being steeped in the lore of holiday fare, and the delicious variations created by my relatives, I have to say that chicken liver is not to be missed.

Liver does not undergo the salting and soaking process of kashering like other meats, so so it should be kashered over a grill or a broiler so the impurities can drip down into the pan below.

Cook the liver for 2 to 3 minutes, or till the inside is no longer brown. Don't overcook; just make sure that it's no longer raw.

I make enough "regular" beef chopped liver for both nights of the seder (with leftovers for the rest of the week). I make the chicken-liver kind when seders are smaller, and I have more time to play with the ingredients.

The following recipes can be served in place of traditional chopped liver, if you're feeling a little adventurous.


Pesach Pineapple Rumaki

  • 2 lbs. cooked chicken livers 
    2 cans whole water chestnuts, drained 
    1 can unsweetened pineapple chunks, drained 
    1 lb. sliced pastrami 
    1/4 cup brown sugar

Halve the chicken livers and broil them until just cooked. Remove from oven and let cool.

Put a chicken-liver half, a piece of pineapple and a water chestnut together, and wrap the pastrami slice around both. Skewer with a toothpick.

Arrange the rumaki on a broiler pan and sprinkle the brown sugar over the top. Broil 2 to 3 minutes, turn over, and broil for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.

Serves 8.


Chicken Livers and Mushrooms in Wine

  • 6 Tbsps. margarine 
    1/2 lb. mushroom caps 
    2 green or red bell peppers, chopped 
    11/2 lbs. chicken livers 
    1/2 cup red wine 
    1 bay leaf 
    1/2 tsp. salt 
    1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Halve the chicken livers and broil them until just cooked. Remove from oven and let cool.

Heat half the margarine in a skillet, and sauté the mushrooms and peppers for 5 minutes, just until they start to soften. Remove the vegetables from the pan, but don't clean it out.

Add the remaining margarine and chicken livers, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the mushroom-pepper mixture, red wine, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 8 to 10 minutes.

Serve with Pesach rolls.


Crispy Chicken Livers

  • 11/2 lbs. chicken livers 
    kosher salt 
    1 cup matzah cake meal 
    2 eggs, beaten 
    2 cups matzah meal 
    peanut oil, for frying

Rinse the chicken livers and then pat dry. Trim off any excess strings, cut them in half, and season with salt on both sides.

Set up a breading station by arranging three large, shallow bowls. Fill the first one with the matzah cake meal, the second one with the eggs, and the third with matzah meal. At the end of the breading station, place an empty baking sheet or large plate.

Using tongs, dip the chicken liver in the cake meal and shake to remove excess. Then dip it in the egg, again shaking to remove excess. Finally, dredge in the matzah meal, pressing so the chicken liver is well-coated.

Place the breaded chicken liver on the empty baking sheet and repeat process until all chicken livers have been breaded.

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Before you fry, arrange a layer of paper towels underneath a cooling rack next to your pan. Sear the outside of each liver but don't cook it thoroughly. Remove them from the fryer and lay them out on the cooling rack, draining onto the paper towels.

Season the fried livers with a pinch of sea salt and then repeat the process until all of the livers have been fried.

Preheat the oven to broil and place livers on a cookie sheet. Broil them for three minutes and check until you have the desired doneness — firm to the touch but not dried out.

Serves 8 to 10.


Chicken-Liver Pâté

  • 1 lb. chicken livers 
    1 onion, chopped 
    1/2 cup margarine 
    2-3 Tbsps. water 
    salt and black pepper to taste 
    3-4 boiled and peeled eggs 
    2 green onions, finely chopped (optional garnish)

Halve the chicken livers and broil them until just cooked. Remove from oven and let cool.

Continue by sautéing the livers and onions in margarine. Add water if needed to prevent sticking. When livers are done, remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool. Season with salt and pepper.

In a food processor, combine the livers and onions, and pulse 2 or 3 times, just to chop slightly.

Add the cooked eggs and process to desired consistency. You can add a little oil if mixture is not smooth enough for a spreadable consistency.

Place in a bowl and decorate the top with the chopped green onions.


Liver and Peppers

  • 11/2 to 2 lbs. chicken livers 
    2 Tbsps. olive oil 
    2 red bell pepper, cut into strips 
    2 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips 
    1 Tbsp. sugar 
    1 Tbsp. minced garlic 
    1 large onion, sliced thin 
    1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes 
    1 Tbsp. oregano 
    1 tsp. basil 
    1/2 cup red or white wine 
    salt and pepper to taste

Halve the chicken livers and broil them till just cooked. Remove from oven and let cool.

In a skillet, sauté the peppers and onion in the oil and sugar. Stir constantly, you want them to start to caramelize a little.

Add the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the tomatoes and wine, and mix to combine, making sure that nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the oregano and basil. Add the livers. Bring mixture to a simmer, cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes.

Serves 6.


Chicken Livers and Pine Nuts

  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted 
    1/3 cup raisins 
    3/4 cup chicken broth 
    3/4 cup white wine 
    2 Tbsps. margarine 
    2 Tbsps. olive oil 
    11/2 to 2 lbs. chicken livers, each cut in half 
    1/2 tsp. salt 
    1/4 tsp. black pepper 
    4 tsps. minced garlic 
    11/2 tsp. matzah meal 
    3 Tbsps. chopped parsley

Halve the chicken livers and broil them till just cooked. Remove from oven and let cool.

In a small saucepan, combine the raisins, broth and wine. Bring to boil and simmer until reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 8 minutes. Set aside.

In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon margarine with 1 tablespoon oil over a medium heat. Season the livers with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and cook, until almost done, about 1 minute. Remove them from the pan.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon margarine to pan; reduce heat to low.

Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add the matzah meal and cook, stirring, 15 seconds longer.

Stir in raisin-wine mixture, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

Bring to a simmer, scraping bottom of pan to dislodge any brown bits.

Add the livers, pine nuts and parsley, and simmer for about 1 minute longer.

Serves 4 to 6.

Eileen Goltz is a freelance food writer.


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