Chopped liver, the Jewish version of chicken liver pâté, may not be as refined, but it's wonderfully flavorful and easy to make in your food processor.
It takes just 20 minutes to make, but it tastes best after a short rest in the fridge. So you should make it a couple of hours in advance.
Chopped liver is the Jewish version of chicken liver pâté. It’s simpler, heartier, and - just as important for observant Jewish people - kosher because it doesn't contain butter or cream. I appreciate the delicate texture and flavor of pâté, but I also love the rustic Jewish version.
Here's an overview of the ingredients you'll need to make chopped liver. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below.
- Fresh chicken livers: I usually get them at the meat counter at Whole Foods. They are widely available in U.S. supermarkets as well.
- Hard-boiled eggs: These need to be hard-boiled, not medium-boiled. So, if you follow this recipe for hard-boiled eggs, leave them in hot water for 12-13 minutes.
- Extra-virgin olive oil: The traditional recipe is made with chicken fat. This ensures the dish keeps Jewish kosher laws and does not mix meat and dairy. I prefer to use extra-virgin olive oil. It's delicious!
- Onion: Chop it finely. This is an important ingredient - it's responsible for the dish's bold flavor. It's used here in much larger quantities than those used in a typical pâté.
- Minced garlic: It's best to use fresh minced garlic, though sometimes I use garlic powder. Garlic is not usually included in traditional recipes, but I like the flavor it adds.
- Kosher salt and black pepper: I use freshly ground black pepper.
- Instead of using olive oil as I do, you can go the traditional route and use chicken fat (schmaltz in Yiddish). If you can't find chicken fat, it might be easier for you to buy duck fat. Ghee is another tasty and widely available option.
- Add more spices - just a pinch of them. Good options that I tried and liked include smoked paprika and cumin.
Chopped Liver Instructions
If you use a food processor, this recipe is as easy as can be! Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
Cook the onions and garlic in olive oil.
Transfer them to your food processor along with hard-boiled eggs.
Add more olive oil to the skillet and saute the livers. Don't overcook them!
Transfer the skillet's contents, including the oil, to the food processor. Add the salt and pepper and process just until smooth.
Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.
- Don't overcook the chicken livers. Overcooked livers are dry and mealy. Perfectly cooked ones are tender and flavorful, slightly sweet in fact. However, it should be noted that the CDC says we should cook chicken livers to an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Don’t eat chopped liver when it's still warm! It won't be very good. It needs time to develop its deep flavor. Its flavor and texture dramatically improve after a rest in the fridge.
It has a rich, deep flavor and smooth texture. It's very similar to pâté. It gets a lot of its flavor from caramelized onions and from the fact that it's high in fat.
They're similar, but chopped liver is made with lots of onions, hard-boiled eggs, and chicken fat, while pâté is made with a small amount of onions or shallots, butter, cream, and often a bit of alcohol such as brandy. Pâté is more refined in terms of flavor and texture. But both are delicious!
They're very different. Chicken liver is considerably milder in its flavor than beef liver, which is very strong-flavored (even calf's liver, which is milder).
Chicken liver also has a softer texture. If one wants to try livers for the first time and is hesitant, chicken is the way to go.
This dish is traditionally served as an appetizer on Jewish holidays. My grandma used to make it for Rosh HaShanah and Passover.
But I make it whenever I'm in the mood, and I often serve it as our main course, alongside some quick pickles, stuffed olives, and crudites.
Chopped liver tastes best after it's had a chance to rest in the fridge, covered, for a few hours, allowing the flavors to meld. But it doesn't keep long in the fridge.
Plan to make it the day you serve it, a few hours ahead, and finish it within a day or two. Store it in the fridge in an airtight container.
You can also freeze it, although it will lose some of its creaminess. After defrosting, try mixing in a little more olive oil and mix it well to make it fluffier.
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- Place the chicken livers on paper towels to drain. Place the eggs in your food processor bowl.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large 12-inch skillet. Add the chopped onion and fry until golden, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for a few more seconds, just until no longer raw.
- Using a spatula, transfer the skillet contents, including any remaining oil, to the food processor.
- Add 2 more tablespoons of oil to the skillet. Add the chicken livers and cook them over medium heat (not higher, or they could burst) until brown on the outside and barely pink on the inside, about 3 minutes per side. Overcooked livers are dry and grainy.
- Use the spatula to transfer the skillet contents, including the livers, the oil, and any tasty bits left on the bottom of the skillet, to the food processor.
- Add the salt and pepper. Process briefly, about 30 seconds, stopping once to scrape the sides and bottom with a spatula. You don't want the chopped liver to be as smooth as a liver pate. It should have a bit more texture to it.
- Transfer the chopped liver to a serving dish. Cover and keep it in the fridge for at least two hours, allowing the flavors to meld. Don’t eat it when it's still warm! It won't be very good. It needs time to develop its deep flavor. Its flavor, as well as its texture, greatly improves after a rest in the fridge.
- You can trim the white connective tissue and fat from the livers. Although I do this when making sauteed livers, I don't bother doing it when making this recipe. I find that processing the livers in the food processor takes care of any difficult-to-chew bits.
- The CDC says we should cook chicken livers to an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Chopped liver tastes best after it's had a chance to rest in the fridge, covered, for a few hours, allowing the flavors to meld. But it doesn't keep long in the fridge. Plan to make it the day you serve it, a few hours ahead, and finish it within a day or two. Store it in the fridge in an airtight container.