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What is chopped liver?

My friend insists that chopped liver, as heaped on pastrami and deli sandwiches, is an amalgam of beef liver, chicken stock, and hard boiled eggs. I love it for whatever it is; but what is it? Thanks.

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  1. You have to be kidding me. Chopped liver is nector of the Gods. Its CHICKEN livers,eggs,chicken fat, and onions seasoned w/salt and pepper. What is amalgam of beef anyway.......

    7 Replies
    1. re: hipchick47

      Thank you for starters. I want to learn to make my own, because there is not a worthy jewish deli within 50 miles from Bradenton. Irwin, weigh in!
      A more precise recipe is welcome and encouraged....

      1. re: Pollo

        Seriously. How did something so wonderful get to be an insult anyhow?

        Such an insult!

        1. re: Pollo

          That "insult" probably comes from the fact that it is cheap to make in comparison to other dishes. I don't mind being chopped liver - I love it!

          1. re: Pollo

            I'll admit, I've never quite understood the urge to weigh in with an 'I hate it' when people are talking about foods rather than restaurants, especially when people are tying to get recipes and share the love. Then again, what am I doing commenting on a comment.
            I do like chopped liver, though.

            1. re: Veggo

              As one who cannot imagine combining other meat with chopped liver (or, for that matter, any two different meats in any sandwich), I can nonetheless tell you how I used to make chopped liver (too hard on the arteries these days!):

              Remove stringy parts, rinse, pat dry chicken livers--I don't think you need a lot in comparison to the other ingredients but you'll have to experiment--say a maximum of 3 or 4 livers to one large egg (though I would often just use the one that I took out of the chicken I was preparing). Saute one sliced onion (an over-the-hill onion--smell or taste it--will ruin any dish) till golden in, preferably, home-rendered chicken fat in which some sliced onion and garlic were included. Hard-boil one or more eggs. Though you may add the livers in with the onions toward the end, until you're epxerienced with this, I receommend sauteeing them separately in a little more of the chicken fat till lightly cooked and barely firm, leaving them rare (well-done makes the final dish pretty "livery"). Combine shelled egg(s), cooked onions, livers in a wooden chopping bowl, add kosher salt to taste, and refrigerate just till cool to the touch. Then, hand-chop (with a curved chopper) till in more-or-less even small bits but not close to pureed. Transfer to serving dish. Refrigerate again till well chilled.

              As for finding either raw or jarred chicken fat, that depends on where you reside. Chinese poultry shops and kosher butchers are good sources for raw. Or just freeze what you pull off fresh chickens till you have enough. You should also freeze the strained, rendered fat unless you plan to use it up quickly.

              Chopped liver is an ideal breeding ground for various nasty critters, which is why I advise chilling between steps.

              If you chop when they're hot, they tend to turn to mush rather than retain the characteristic texture. Of course you may prefer to use a food processor, but if you do, be sure to pulse, otherwise you'll get an entirely different concoction.

              Kosher chopped liver requires broiling the livers till well done, but I inferred that was not what you were asking about.

            2. re: hipchick47

              Actually chopped liver is, like several other traditional Jewish appetizers, an invitation to a heart attack. But what a way to go. Gribbenes is the other gilt edged invite, and actually you can really die happy by making gribbenes when you render the schmaltz for the chopped liver. Schmaltz is essential to chopped liver. I wouldn't trust any recipe that doesn't include it.

              1. re: hipchick47

                Absolutely! What are most pates, but chopped liver that has been pressed, formed, and refrigerated? And, as another poster noted, when accompanied with Herring and Sour Cream - what a combo!

              2. If you grew up in the 60's and were fortunate enough your family took you out to dinner in restaurants.....Chopped Liver was a staple appetizer on many menus along with Herring in Sour Cream. That's the way it was here in Northern New Jersey anyway. I always enjoyed it even as a kid. For 30 years I believed the Chopped Liver was made exclusively with chicken livers only.

                When I turned 30, I took a position at a very exclusive Kosher Caterer. One of the staples for cocktail receptions was the chopped liver and I always tried some "samples" whenever I saw it out for display........After a year of working at the Country Club, I happened to be in the kitchen when one of the chefs was preparing a large amount of beef liver in a very large Hobart Mixer. I asked him what he was doing and he said he was making Chopped Liver. I was shocked and told him I thought Chopped Liver was made with Chicken Livers only...........He laughed at me.

                In the end....I like both versions.

                If you read the following thread, I get a kick out of the family recipe:


                Liver........one pound


                1. I love my chopped liver, but I make mine with calves liver. I just broil the liver, sautee a lot of onions, a lot, sometimes I put a few garlic cloves in when I sautee the onions. Hard boil eggs, about 2 per pound. Then I just grind it all together. I add salt and pepper to taste, add some of the oil from the onions so it isn't to dry. Also add a little garlic powder to taste. Then refrigerate. Two things this is perishable so don't make so much that you won't eat it, I keep it for about four days. Also a pound of liver makes alot. Enjoy

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: paprkutr

                    You're absolutely right. The texture of calves liver makes a much different -- less mushy -- chopped liver. I do tend to use a little chicken liver and a little calves liver, just to cover all the bases.

                    Never used garlic, but dolly, it couldn't hoit, vhy not?

                    I am proud to have inherited my grandmother's deep wooden bowl and her curved hand chopper for making chopped liver. I am convinced that the real key to great chopped liver (and chopped eggs and onions, but that's another thread) lives in that bowl.

                    1. re: chicgail

                      I couldn't agree with you more. I have my mothers bowls and choppers as well as her hand grinder. I use her pots to make the gefilte fish, it just tastes better, our family will only eat home made.

                      1. re: paprkutr

                        My bubbeh's bowl and "hock messer" have disappeared in the mists of time, but your posts brought back lots of memories.

                  2. Following is the only chopped liver recipe worthy of note. I remember seeing Sharon Lebewohl making this on David Rosengarten's cooking show years ago. The joy on her face was enough to win over the most skeptical worry wart. This is a Chowhound post from 12/19/06. Thank goodness it was preserved!!!

                    (serves 8)

                    1 1/2 pounds beef liver
                    1 pound chicken liver
                    corn oil for drizzling
                    1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons corn oil
                    1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons schmaltz (chicken fat)
                    4 cups onions, coarsely chopped
                    4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
                    1 tablespoon schmaltz (chicken fat)
                    2 teaspoons salt
                    1/4 teaspoon pepper

                    1. Turn on broiler. Rinse liver thoroughly, and cut away membranes and extra fat. Cut beef liver into 1-inch pieces; chicken livers can remain whole. Place beef and chicken livers in a large baking pan, and drizzle with corn oil (pour oil into a flatware tablespoon and drizzle over livers; two tablespoons are ample). Broil 8-10 minutes (keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't burn). Turn liver pieces, and broil for another 5 minutes. Liver should be fully cooked and lightly browned on both sides. Let chill in the refrigerator.
                    2. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons corn oil and the same amount of schmaltz, and sauté onions until well browned. Let chill in the refrigerator.
                    3. In a food processor, combine liver, onions, hard-boiled eggs, 1 tablespoon schmaltz, salt, and pepper, and blend until smooth. You'll have to do it in batches. Chill before serving.

                    Note: Though the above is the official deli version, some people prefer to use only chicken livers. It makes a lighter, creamier chopped liver.
                    HillJ Dec 19, 2006 12:57AM

                    1. I am repeating this, because it didn't post on my screen.

                      I make my chopped liver with calves liver. I broil it, sautee a lot of onions, and add about 2 hard boil eggs per pound of liver. Then I grind it all together, it gets a little mushy when grinding because of the eggs and onions. Sometimes I add a little sauteed garlic, season with salt, pepper and onion powder.

                      It is very perishable, I keep for about 4 days. A pound makes a lot. Refrigerate.

                      1. Chopped Liver, Ahhhhhhhh.

                        The problem with chopped liver is that it is soooooooooooooooooo good that it is almost impossible to stop eating it. And jfood's favorite way to eat it is on Ritz crackers. A big red box and a pound of livah, the NCAA basketball games and it's a mighty good weekend.

                        1. While many disparage Sammy's Roumanian, their Chopped Liver, made at the table, is absolutely to die for. Once you have it, everything else pales. They bring out a stainless steel bowl of chicken livers that are koshered and broiled, some gribenes, and some salted down, slices of black radishes. They use a hand chopper and chop it up at the table, periodically mixing in a shot of schmalz from the syrup container on the table. (What other ethnicity has rendered chicken fat in syrup bottles on the table?)

                          I do agree that Sammy's is too much shtick - too expensive to bother with. But the chopped liver - it just may be worth the price of admission.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: applehome


                            Great memories. The chooped liver at the table at Sammy's is one of the great memories in jfood's life. Attended a 40th party for a good friend years ago at the place. what a blast. and the chopped liver made at the table was fantasttic, especially when the waiter grabbed the schmalz bottle and poured it into the liver. Then you eat the delightful blend while the servers perform a can-can. :-)))

                            1. re: applehome

                              Ahh, Sammy's Roumanian. It's been around 20 yrs but it was a wild time there when we met up with a lot of cousins. The waitress told us to go for the all you can eat/drink because we had already consumed multilple bottles of frozen vodka. The chopped liver made at table side with the pitcher of schmaltz poured in was a sight to behold. The heartburn the next day was unforgetable as well as the hangover.

                              1. re: scubadoo97


                                Do you remember that the full bottles of vodka were brought to the table in a 12" ice cube with a hole for the bottle in one side.

                                1. re: jfood

                                  Oh yes! It was like an ice age stonehenge on our table.

                            2. Hoy Vey, so many variations. And most are beyond my capability. ( I am Schmaltzless.) And then it doesn't last long. Does it freeze? Can I buy it by the pound somewhere between Sarasota and Tampa? Thanks...

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Veggo

                                my Publix in South Fl sells it - home made and very good. Try the deli section (not the counter) ours is by their coleslaw and potato salads area.

                              2. There's been lots of debate on the best way to make chopped liver:

                                1. Is it just me, or is anyone else scratching their heads over the "as heaped on pastrami and deli sandwiches" comment? I like it all by itself. I would never think to put it on anything else, except a cracker or bread! Not judging, just curious.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: danhole

                                    The pastrami and chopped liver on rye at the New York Deli in Denver ( it's a menu item- not a kinky special request) is better than sex, and for certain ex-governors, less expensive.

                                    1. re: danhole

                                      Im with you on that Danhole. I don't think I would use chopped liver as a condiment with pastrami, but the two together in a mouthful might be interesting. I love it too, but its so rich, I never make a whole batch of my own - I would eat it all, and it just might kill me. Central Market offers it this time of year (along with rugulach in their bakery section) so I will get a small portion there and (maybe) share is with my own personal mensch,

                                      1. re: Cheflambo

                                        I'm thinking that a sandwich with chopped liver and pastrami should be named "The Triple Bypass' or "How to finance your cardiologist." Having said that I would like to taste it once, after my cholesterol goes down!

                                        Is the chopped liver at CM in the bakery section? That would be worth the drive!

                                        1. re: danhole

                                          The chopped liver is in the prepared food section, near the front of the store. They assured me it would be available yesterday (I have not been there yet) but I suspect you should be able to get it this week. I might make a quick trip down there tomorrow. And dont forget rugulach, in the bakery department! Shabbat Shalom!

                                    2. With Pesach approaching, a very timely post. Alas, this will be the first time I have to resort to making chopped liver from scratch as our kosher butcher/grocery store has closed after 50+ years just as the holiday is coming. Was thinking of making an investment in a Kitchen Aid meat grinder for future chopped liver, but think I will try the bowl and curved knife (messaluna?) approach. Was thinking of using all chicken liver, but posts have got me thinking that will not be the right consistency, will need to use combo with baby beef/calves liver. Thanks!