Chicken Livers with Bacon, Watercress and Dirty Rice
© John Kernick

Chicken Livers with Bacon, Watercress and Dirty Rice


Chicken-fried chicken livers are tossed with crisp bacon, tangy watercress and pickled onions in this piquant one-dish meal.


  1. 1 1/4 cups long-grain rice, rinsed and drained
  2. 1 3/4 cups water
  3. 1/2 pound bacon, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  4. 1 medium onion, finely diced
  5. 1 large celery rib, finely diced
  6. 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  7. 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  8. 3/4 cup chicken stock
  9. Salt
  10. Freshly ground pepper
  11. 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  12. Vegetable oil, for frying
  13. 1 pound chicken livers, trimmed and halved
  14. 2 cups small watercress sprigs
  15. Pickled red onion slices
  16. 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  1. In a medium saucepan, cover the rice with the water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat for 13 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the rice steam, covered, for 5 minutes. Lightly fluff the rice and cover.
  2. Meanwhile, in a deep skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp; transfer to paper towels. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat in the skillet. Add the onion, celery, thyme and 1/8 teaspoon of the cayenne. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until the onion is softened, 7 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a simmer over moderately high heat. Add the rice and bacon and stir well. Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper and cover.
  3. In a bowl, combine the flour with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and the remaining cayenne. In another large skillet, heat 1/4 inch of vegetable oil until shimmering. Pat the livers dry with paper towels, dredge in the flour mixture and add to the skillet. Cover with a splatter screen and fry over high heat until browned outside and rosy within, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer the livers to a plate and sprinkle lightly with salt.
  4. Transfer the rice mixture to a platter. In a bowl, toss the watercress with the pickled onions and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange the watercress and livers over the rice and serve.
To pickle, soak 1 thinly sliced small red onion in 1/2 cup vinegar with 1/4 cup sugar and a pinch of salt for about 1 hour.

Suggested Pairing

Dishes with more than one dominant flavor can be a wine-pairing nightmare. Look for a wine with a Labrador-like personality; something that plays well with everyone, like a lively, juicy red that’s not too tannic or acidic. Beaujolais or Lambrusco are good bets.