Chopped chicken liver

Why chopped liver?

Spring’s a good time to eat eggs and chicken, and this recipe has both! It’s not your usual chopped liver that’s a smooth paste; this chopped liver is more like egg salad and at least half vegetables. This is the chopped liver my grandma used to make in Brooklyn. She used a wooden bowl and a half-moon chopper, and I used to help her chop the onions and celery in the bowl when I was a little girl.

When my grandma died I got her chopper – well, actually my grandma had two choppers, exactly the same. One chopper was hers and one had been her mother’s, and my mother took one and I took the other. So my chopper is either my grandmother’s chopper or my great-grandmother’s chopper.

Either way, it’ll be my daughter’s chopper one day. You should see this chopper – welded! It’ll never die. My daughter’s great-granddaughter will still be using it to make chopped liver.

But aren’t chicken livers toxic?

A Portland conversation that should be a Portlandia skit: last year my doctor said I should get more iron, and I said I would eat more chicken liver. She looked dubious and said she had given up liver because the liver filters toxins out of the body and so there are toxins in the liver.

I explained that my chicken livers come from a local farm run by friends of my neighbors, so they’re entirely pasture-fed and not toxic, and she was all happy and relieved 🙂 So try to get good healthy chicken livers, if you can, or don’t eat them too often.

Chopped Liver Recipe

(this will take about half an hour but then it should chill for an hour)

Start by making two hard-boiled eggs. While the eggs are cooking, take a medium size frying pan and put a tablespoon of butter in it to melt (or, if you want your chopped liver to be healthier or kosher, use olive oil). (Tablespoons are marked on the stick of butter). When the butter melts, fry a pound of chicken livers in it, stirring frequently. You want the livers to be brown and dry all the way through so they will crumble and not smush into paste.

While the eggs and livers are cooking, chop an onion and two sticks of celery into small pieces. It helps to use a wooden bowl and a curved chopper, but you can do it with a sharp knife and a cutting board. Again, you want them in small chunks, not paste.

When the chicken livers and eggs are done, add them to the onion and celery, and chop everything up together. Stir in a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of black pepper. (My mother says my grandma never used as exotic a spice as pepper, just salt, but I go ahead and put it in anyway.) Refrigerate for an hour before serving if possible. My grandma served these with Ritz crackers but I make my own crackers, which are much healthier and better!

Vegetarian and vegan versions

The vegetarian version of chopped chicken liver is egg salad: do it the same way but with two extra eggs instead of the livers. Add a little Greek yogurt if necessary to hold it together. For a similar vegan dish, cook a cup of chickpeas, then chop them into the onions and celery with Vegenaise.

Published by Karen Carr

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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