Friday, 27 April 2007

On Chicken Livers

In response to my post, Very Herodotus wrote: Sorry, but ... chicken livers? I mean, I'm sure they're nutritious, loaded with iron and all. I thought chicken liver was something people ate when there was nothing else to eat. You know, you ate all the white meat, then most of the dark, then the chicken neck for soup or something, and as a last resort you eat the liver.

But you've gone and bought the liver first, like saying "Look, I don't need the tender white meat of the breast, or the yummy goodness of the wing. I'll just take these chicken livers and be on my way."

Do they have medicinal value? Are they part of your secret beauty regimen? Please, do tell!

You raise an interesting point, which seems prevalent in Anglo-Saxon countries: equating offal with food for poor people. And yet the French, for example, don’t seem to have that attitude – think of foie gras. I’ve seen chicken livers appear in numerous guises in the menus of their restaurants, usually as a starter: chicken livers in a red wine sauce, devilled and served on toast, as pate.

Yes, they’re cheap (I think of it, greedily, as “all the more for me”.); in the supermarket, I see non-kosher chicken livers for about £1 a pound. They’re also good for you: rich in iron and B-vitamins, and very low in fat. However, the primary reason I cook with them is because they taste nice.

Here are a couple of recipes to get you started. (I have others but to put them all in would make this a mammoth post.) The first is the classic Jewish chopped liver, as taught to me by my mum. The second is based on a recipe from The Best of Oriental Cooking, published by Caxton, where it is listed as “Curry with Chicken Livers”. I prefer my name.

General Notes on Recipes

I’ve given the instructions to kosher the chicken livers in each recipe. If you don’t want kosher livers, then skip this stage, add the livers at the suggested step and cook them gently for a bit longer.

Liver must be cooked gently or it goes tough.

The Weight Watchers points calculations are my own.

Gehachte Liver
serves 8 – 2 WW points per serving

1 tablespoon schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) or use oil
2 medium onions chopped finely
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled
1 clove garlic, crushed
8 oz/250g chicken livers trimmed
Peppercorns in a grinder

1) Grill/broil the chicken livers for 2 minutes each side under a hot grill (broiler) to kosher. Do not over cook.
2) In a frying pan, melt the schmaltz over a medium heat. Gently fry the onion and garlic until the onion is soft and clear.
3) Add the chicken livers and fry gently for two minutes (longer if you omitted step 1).
4) In a food processor, combine the chicken liver mixture with the hard boiled eggs. Add 20 grinds of black pepper. Process until you have a smooth mixture. Spoon into ramekin dishes and allow to cool.
5) Serve with toast.

Thai Chicken Livers
Serves 4 – 4 WW points per serving excluding rice

1lb/500g chicken livers trimmed
1 onion, chunked
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons lazy chilli/sambal ulek/red chilli paste
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon lemon/lime juice
6 oz/150g mushrooms
2 or 3 carrots cut into thin strips
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon curry powder
4 fl oz/100ml Low fat coconut milk
1 teasp oil (I use rapeseed oil or canola)
1 teasp soft dark brown sugar
1-2 head of pak choi, sliced lengthwise (optional)
Rice to serve

1) Grill/broil the chicken livers for 2 minutes each side under a hot grill (broiler) to kosher. Do not overcook.
2) Put the curry powder into a small dish and mix to a paste with some water (this stops it burning).
3) In a food processor, combine the onion, garlic, turmeric, sugar, chilli, ginger and lemon/lime juice. Puree to a paste.
4) Heat the oil in a large wok. Stir fry the onion paste until golden brown.
5) Add the mushrooms. Stir fry until they’ve made water and that water has evaporated.
6) Add the chicken livers. If you’ve skipped step 1, fry gently until the liver begins to colour. Add the curry paste, stir well and fry for 1-2 minutes.
7) Stir in the coconut milk, carrots and pak choi (if using). Bring to boiling point and simmer for 3-5 minutes.
8) Serve with rice.

- Pam


Very Herodotus said...


Thanks so much for the reply. The recipes sound do-able for me!

I enjoy your blog!

--VeryHerodotus aka OverdueShorty from TMF.

wrnglrjan said...

OK, I am way too picky to even consider anything with liver in the name, so thanks anyway, but ...

Surely I'm not the only one getting a mental chuckle out of something costing 1 pound per pound.

Or perhaps I'm too easily amused.