Gail Simmons Shares Her Mom's Classic Recipe for Chopped Chicken Liver
Maybe you grew up eating chopped chicken liver, or maybe you've discovered it by way of all the restaurants turning it into a trend. Either way, it's time to add this traditional dish to your repertoire. And whether you're looking to learn how to make chopped chicken liver for the first time or looking for a new take, who better to ask than Food and Wine Special Projects Director Gail Simmons? The 'Top Chef' judge features her mom's classic recipe in her cookbook, which came out October, and it's as timeless as it is accessible—perfect for Passover week, or any time of year.
Excerpted from Bringing It Home: Favorite Recipes from a Life of Adventurous Eating by Gail Simmons. Copyright © 2017 Reprinted with permission from Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.
I can’t remember a time in my childhood when a Kelly-green ceramic serving dish, filled with my mom’s chopped liver, didn’t occupy a regular spot in our fridge. My brothers and I simply accepted it as a constant in our lives, even if we rarely ate from it. Although it would be years before I developed a taste for the iconic Jewish dish, I was always comforted by the sweet, rich aromas that emanated from the kitchen when my mom prepared it, carefully cleaning the fresh livers before sautéing them with onions and a little Madeira or sherry. Years later, as a line cook in New York, I was excited to see the dish on casual bistro menus, sometimes blended with a little butter or cream (or both) and dressed up as a mousse (more of a French preparation than a typical Jewish one, though equally enticing). When I called my mom for her recipe, she rattled it off from the top of her head without a moment’s hesitation. I add a little mustard and extra fresh herbs, but otherwise leave it as is. With such perfection, there’s little reason to fuss.
Renée’s Chopped Liver
Makes 2 Cups
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 pound shallots
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons schmaltz or 1 tablespoon canola oil plus 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 pound chicken livers, trimmed and rinsed
- 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sherry, port, brandy, or dry red wine
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh parsley
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced cornichon pickles for serving
- Crusty bread, water crackers, or matzo for serving
1. Place the egg in a small pot of cold water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow the egg to boil for 1 minute, then cover the pot, remove from the heat, and let stand for 8 minutes. Drain, then submerge the egg in a bowl of ice water and let stand 1 minute. Peel and coarsely chop; set aside.
2. Finely chop enough of the shallots to yield 1/3 cup; set aside. thinly slice the remaining shallots. in a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. add the sliced shallots; reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender, golden, and caramelized, 45 to 50 minutes. remove from the heat and season with 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Set aside.
3. While the shallots are caramelizing, in a large skillet, heat the schmaltz over medium heat until melted. add the chopped shallots and cook for 1 minute, then add the garlic and cook until softened, about 2 minutes more. meanwhile, dredge the livers in the flour, shaking off any excess, then season generously with salt. add the livers to the pan and cook, turning once or twice, until just cooked through and barely pink in the center, 6 to 8 minutes. reserving the skillet, transfer the livers to a food processor and let stand until slightly cooled.
4. Meanwhile, add the sherry to the skillet and simmer over medium heat, scraping up any brown bits, until reduced to about 1 tablespoon, 1 to 2 minutes. transfer to the food processor, scraping to get all the bits from the pan. add the hard-boiled egg, mustard, parsley, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pulse until the mixture is mostly smooth, but still textured. Season to taste with salt and pepper then transfer to a bowl. Cover the surface of the liver with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.
5. Just before serving, season the chopped liver again. Serve with the caramelized shallots, sliced cornichons, and crusty bread or crackers alongside.