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Apr 4, 2008 02:29 PM

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:




                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.