Chicken Livers Redux

Visits to my grandparents’ house for dinner were always a double edged sword: on one side, I’d get to see them, get lots of love, hang out, eat the chocolates that are for guests only (did your grandparents have the chocolate stash too?). On the other, I’d have to, inevitably, eat chopped liver. My grandparents on my step-dad’s side aren’t like you and I flavour-lovers. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that their palates are quintessentially Scottish. It was summed up best by my friend Linda with an “ach, Rebecca, I hope this restaurant doesn’t use any fancy spices or any garlic or anything like that… I can’t understand why people LIKE that stuff. I just can’t eat anything ethnic.” Yes, dear reader, garlic is now ethnic.

So chopped liver was, pretty much just that. Chopped up liver, with a bit of oil and maybe a tiny bit of salt. And I hated it. Beyond belief. For years I wouldn’t touch anything with liver in it, until I started reading about traditional diets and found out just how good for you liver is. And so I tried it. And I wasted a lot of liver. Until that fateful first Christmas that I’d ever had, at Jamie’s house, when his mum served that pate that made me a little teary with its deliciousness. And ever since then, I’ve been on the prowl for ways to make liver, once again, palatable.

You will be overjoyed to know that I have found yet another way to make liver not taste disgusting. Who knew. Now there are two!!

Chicken livers on toast.

Sourdough bread for toast

Olive oil to drizzle on toast

1 lb organic (preferably pastured) chicken livers

1.2 stick butter

1/2 cup olive oil

juice of 2 lemons

rind of 1 lemon

1/4 cup brandy (wahooo!)

1/2 onion

6 large cloves garlic

1/2 bunch of parsley


Preheat the oven to 400.

Cut the toasts to the desired size, drizzle with a little olive oil, and place in oven to get toasty.

Melt the butter in a pan on medium heat. Add the onions, and half the garlic. Soften for ten minutes, until onions are transparent. If the garlic starts to burn then turn the heat down. Add the chicken livers. Cook on medium high for 5 minutes or so, until they are almost cooked through. Turn the heat to high, and pour in the brandy. Set it on fire (this is always my favourite part) and jiggle the pan around until the flames go out*. The livers should still be ever so slightly pink in the middle. Throw in the lemon rind, and the juice from 1 lemon. Cook over low heat for a couple of minutes until the liquids have reduced.

Remove from heat. On a big chopping space, chop the livers into small pieces, periodically scooping it all into a pile in the centre of the board. Once chopped (small, but not pureed), pour in the olive oil, lemon juice, parsley and salt, chop and scoop until it reaches the desired consistency. If you’re in a hurry you can use an immersion blender or food processor. I do this most of the time, because it’s less time and mess, but I highly recommend trying the chopping board method too as it leaves the livers at such a beautiful consistency.

Remove toasts from the oven, place a dollop of liver on each, and serve warm.

*For record, if you spill it and start a kitchen fire where there’s oil involved too, the best thing to do, from personal experience, is to drench a towel and throw it over the fire. Sad to say I’ve done this 3 times in the last year.

2 Responses to “Chicken Livers Redux”
  1. Karen C. says:

    This is similar to how I make it and had it in Italy. It was eye-opening that liver didn’t have to suck! I use dry red wine instead of brandy but I look forward to trying it with the brandy.

  2. fairybekk says:

    Ooooh, I’ll have to try it with red wine. I have a few half-finished bottles sitting around waiting to be used for something.

    I’m going to add capers next time too. I think that’ll add a lovely bite….

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