I was a weird kid. And I distinctly remember, on occasion, ordering beef liver with onions for dinner at my dad’s diner. I was also a FREAK for chicken liver paté on toast.
Then I became a surly teenager and went to Weight Watchers summer camp where they forced us to eat liver once a week as part of the WW weight-loss plan. The culinary skills of the cooks at camp didn’t stand up to my dad’s badass line cooks, and I developed an aversion to liver that lasted for years… until Dave and I went to Katz’s Deli in New York, and I was reacquainted with the silky, rich flavor of chopped chicken livers on rye.
Oogey raw texture aside, chicken livers are ridiculously tasty. They’re also loaded with Vitamin A – and at 7 grams of protein per ounce, a meal-sized serving of chicken livers packs a protein punch. And I’ve learned that they don’t have to be served on toast points to be worth eating.
If you can get yourself past any squeamishness you might be harboring, you’re going to be pretty excited about the taste. Plus, I noticed when I eat these for lunch, I’m never hungry for an afternoon snack. They’re rich, satiating, and stupid-good – and you usually don’t have to worry about co-workers trying to steal them off your plate in the break room.
NOTE: There’s no photo of the recipe in this post because I could not find a way to make raw or cooked livers look appealing. We might just have to accept the fact that they’re not very photogenic; see for yourself. Instead, here are some of the spices that make the magic in this recipe.
Aromatic Chicken Livers
1-1.5 lbs. chicken livers
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon white wine or vinegar or broth
coconut oil or olive oil
1. Cut chicken livers into 2-inch pieces. This is kinda gross, so think about something else while you do it. I like to pretend I’m at a Social Distortion show and sing “You Can’t Take It With You” really loudly (which would probably make Mike Ness cringe because he’s a staunch vegetarian. Sorry, Mike!)
2. Heat about 1 tablespoon of fat over medium-high heat. Add chicken livers and brown well on all sides; you want them to get a nice crust. Set aside on a plate to catch juices.
3. Add onion to pan and sauté until it’s tender and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. When the onions are ready, add all the spices and the garlic. Stir fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
4. Put the chicken livers back in the pan, toss well, and add the 1 tablespoon of liquid. Cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed and chicken livers are cooked through, about 5 minutes.
BONUS BREAKFAST: I had about half a serving left over after two lunches, so turned it into a breakfast in a scramble. I coarsely chopped the livers, sautéed some roasted turnips and yellow squash in coconut oil (like a hash), then stir fried the veggies with two eggs and the chopped chicken livers. HOLY SCHMOLEY! It was awesome.
BONUS ETYMOLOGY LESSON: The phrase “lily-livered” is from the Medievel belief that the liver was where our courage was stored. Lilies are pale in color, so being accused of having a pale liver meant you lacked courage.
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