Creamy, rich chopped liver is a traditional Jewish dishes that brings back fond food memories for many families. The history of chopped liver goes back to Medieval Germany, where Jews bred and raised geese as the poultry of choice. The first Jewish chopped liver recipes were actually made from goose liver. Eventually Eastern European Jews began using chicken and beef livers; these recipes came across the ocean with immigrants to Ellis Island in the late 1800′s. The East Coast deli culture is closely tied to these early Eastern European Jewish immigrants. To this day, you can still order chopped liver in any New York Jewish deli (any deli worth visiting, that is!). Today, chopped liver is often served as an appetizer for Jewish holiday gatherings like Passover.
My chopped liver recipe uses schmaltz and gribenes in the mix. Schmaltz, aka rendered chicken fat, is the most traditional oil for chopped liver. You can use olive oil or vegetable oil instead, but in my (humble) opinion schmaltz is the way to go. Gribenes are the crispy cracklings created during the schmaltz collecting process. I add gribenes to the chopped liver for extra flavor, because that’s the way I was taught to make it. If you keep kosher, you will need to kosher the chicken livers prior to preparing them. For instructions on how to kosher liver, consult your Rabbi, or check with one of the leading kosher authorities. Star-K provides instructions here:
I’m not gonna lie—this recipe is full of fat and cholesterol. You might want to have your cardiologist on speed dial before enjoying. I make no apologies for this. Some Jewish dishes are meant to be enjoyed sparingly. Everything in moderation, including moderation. L’chaim!
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How to make traditional Ashkenazi Jewish chopped liver with schmaltz and gribenes. Kosher, meat.
- 1 1/2 lbs chicken livers
- 1/4 cup schmaltz, divided
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 5 hardboiled eggs, peeled and diced (divided)
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup gribenes (optional)
- 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
You will also need: skillet, food processor
Pour 2 tbsp schmaltz or oil into a skillet and heat over medium. Put half of the chicken livers into the skillet and fry them for about 3 minutes on each side (6 minutes total). Livers should be firm and browned on the outside while slightly pink on the inside. They will continue to cook internally after you remove them from the skillet; don’t overcook them, or they’ll turn dry. Season the livers generously with salt and pepper as they are cooking. When they are brown and firm, pour the livers into a medium-size mixing bowl along with the leftover schmaltz/oil from the pan. Put another 2 tbsp of schmaltz/oil into the skillet, heat it, and fry the remaining livers repeating the same process as above. Add the livers and leftover schmaltz/oil from the pan into the mixing bowl.
*Note: If you plan to kosher your chicken livers by broiling them, you only need to sauté them in the skillet for about 1 minute on each side. Koshering the livers cooks them, so there is no need to sauté them for a long period of time. Be careful not to overcook or burn the livers, or they will become dry.
The skillet should now be seasoned with schmaltz or oil, so you don't need to grease the pan again. Fry the chopped onion in the skillet over medium heat for 5-6 minutes until golden. Add the fried onion to the mixing bowl, along with 4 of the diced hard boiled eggs and the ½ cup of gribenes (optional). Season all ingredients generously with salt and pepper.
Fit your food processor with a metal blade. Place all ingredients into the processor and pulse for about 30 seconds, stirring once halfway through processing, until a roughly textured paste forms. Taste the chopped liver. Add salt or pepper to taste, if desired, and pulse for a few more seconds to blend. Let mixture return to room temperature.
Chill the chopped liver for 2 hours in the refrigerator. Garnish with remaining diced hardboiled egg and minced parsley. Serve as an appetizer with crackers, or on rye bread as a sandwich. If you want to make this dish gluten free, serve on GF bread or rice crackers. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.