I would think this recipe from famed chef Jan Birnbaum from the San Francisco Jewish Magazine "J" is non-traditional and unusual and if you hear your cell phone ringing, it is probably your cardiologist calling.
Chopped Liver Jan’s Way
3 lbs. duck livers
1/2 cup brandy
4 Tbs. mixed chopped herbs (parsley, oregano, rosemary)
2-4 Tbs. Jan’s Seasoning Mix (see below)
2 large onions chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb. rendered duck or chicken fat
1/4 tsp. lemon zest, chopped fine
4 egg yolks
4 Tbs. freshly chopped parsley
2 tsp. freshly chopped thyme
Mix the livers in brandy and chopped herbs and marinate for 2 days. Place the livers in a strainer to remove some of the liquid. Season the livers with 1-2 Tbs. spice mix. In a large sauté pan quickly sear the livers in a few Tbs. of the chicken fat. Do not crowd the pan. Cook them at a high temperature so that the outside gets crusty but the inside remains medium-rare. Do not overcook. Remove to a flat pan and refrigerate to stop the cooking. Let them cool to just below room temperature. Don’t let them get too cold.
In a few more Tbs. of the fat, caramelize the onions and the garlic. Season them with a tsp. of the spice mix. Meanwhile melt the rest of the chicken fat. While the fat is hot, add the hot onions and garlic and whisk the yolk in. Be careful to cook the yolks but not scramble them. Grind the livers and onions through fine holes on a meat grinder. To the ground livers, add the zest, parsley, thyme and 1-2 Tbs. spice mix. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Overnight is best.
Jan’s Seasoning Mix | Makes 3/4 cup
8 Tbs. kosher salt
1 Tbs. ground black pepper
1 tsp. ground white pepper
2 Tbs. paprika
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. ground coriander seed
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. dry mustard
Combine all ingredients
1 lb. chicken livers, deveined, washed & dried
1 large or 2 med onion, sliced in half moons
2 hard boiled eggs
EVOO or chicken schmaltz if you dare!
2 T sherry
s&p to taste
In 10-12 in saute pan, heat 2-3 T EVOO or melt schmaltz. Make sure livers are really dry, add to pan, season with s&p, saute 5-8 min. I take them out med rare, but some leave them in till really hard. Remove livers and keep warm. You may need a little more oil or schmaltz if all has cooked away. Carmelize onion by sauteeing them in med hi skillet for 15-20 min. DO NOT LET THEM BURN. They should be soft and a caramel brown color, very fragrant. If you are in rush, you can sprinkle 1 tsp. sugar, but I don't like to do this, it does make onions brown quicker. When finished, return livers to pan. If you are using gas stove, be careful with next step: Add sherry to pan, be careful if it ignites. Let flavors meld in pan 2-3 min. Remove from heat, let cool 10-15 min.
Place entire mixture in 10-12 cup food processor. Add hard boiled eggs and a little more s&p. This next part is tricky: PULSE, do not simply turn on, mixture 6-8 times. Check texture. Every family is unique. We like ours kind of chunky, doesn't take long. If you are going for pate/puree effect, will need longer pulse time. Store in plastic container in fridge. Keeps 2-3 days in fridge, can be frozen for 2-3 weeks.
I don't think you can stray too far from the fold before what you've got is no longer chopped liver. Schmaltz, onion, hard-cooked egg, chicken liver, salt, pepper. You could add truffle or truffle oil if you wanted to gild the richness lily. A TINY bit of balsamic, ginger, hearty mustard, and/or fish sauce would add some zing, if you so desire. These days people seem to want hot chile in everything, but I wouldn't do it to chopped liver.
Clearly this isn't kosher, but it's luxuriantly indulgent. I have no idea where I got it. This is utterly delicious and mindlessly easy to do since you do it all in a mini chopper.
Makes a little over a cup.
1) Get down your small cuisinart. In it, grind together into a paste:
* 1 1/2 ounces raw lean bacon, chopped
1/2 onion, medium, chopped or 1/2 red onion)
2) In your cast iron pan, melt on VERY LOW:
2 ounces butter
Add the chopped onion and bacon, stir, and fry gently for 10 minutes, stirring now and then. While it’s cooking, wash out your small cuisinart because you’re going to use it again.
3) Add to the skillet:
1/2 lb chicken liver
Stir through the onion and bacon, turn heat up a little, and fry about 7 minutes or until livers are just cooked through. Stir a few times.
4) While it’s cooking, add into a separate, small bowl and hold to one side:
1 teaspoon seasoning salt, of your choice
1/2 teaspoon thyme, pref. fresh
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, coarse
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tablespoon sour cream, heavy cream or creme fraiche
1 tablespoon brandy or cognac
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
5) When the livers are done, chuck the contents of the cast iron pan, juices and all, into your cleaned cuisanart. Add the contents of your seasoning bowl, too.
Process slowly at first, and then at high speed to get a smooth paste.
6) Scrape paste into a suitable small bowl or ramekin. Cool, cover and refrigerate.
I don't use schmaltz anymore; but have found olive oil and butter to be an acceptable alternative. In addition to the carmelized onions, I also slowly saute a few mushrooms. I usually deglaze the pan with a little cognac and process the mixture with the hard cooked eggs (using a couple extra hard cooked egg yolks) The weirdiest part is that I add a spoonful of mayo when I'm finished; as well as a small amount of fresh minced onion. Just like the flaor and texture it adds. Same recipe is just a delicious with calf''s liver.
Not me - it's just not right without schmaltz, and I really dislike the mayo. I don't often make schmaltz the proper way, but I do freeze the fat skimmed from chicken stock which I've made with extra onion, and find it interchangeable with "real" schmaltz for this purpose. I do like the idea of a little fresh onion at the end, and will try that next time.
I do believe rendered chicken fat would have excellent flavor. However, I disagree that fat that has been boiled in chicken soup for hours and then skimmed and reused is very flavorful at all. As far as the nutritional update; Look, I'm a dietitian, the last thing I do for pleasure after work is become the food police. We all have preferences, I just stated mine. I believe ollive oil has much to rocommend itself and I try to use it whenever I can, and not significantly change the finished product. And I've got to tell you, I didn't choose the mayo because it was super healthy; it just worked for me in this particular recipe. Sorry I offended anyone's senstivities.
Certainly not mine. I even use olive oil for my matzo balls. Your approach fulfills the request of the OP for unusual recipes. The controversy over mayo on pastrami escapes me because I like cole slaw on my sandwich so put it in your chopped liver because you like it. I was really commenting on the half and half which some folks use to lower the cholesterol from the dreaded schmaltz and in fact are increasing it.