A delicious concoction of sauteed chicken liver, onions, hard-boiled eggs, garlic, and seasonings of choice (depending on your Jewish Grandma), plus liberal doses of chicken fat. All run through run repeatedly through meat grinder (hand-cranked for the purist) to near pate consistency. Vunduhful Dahlink!

(You should have the Alka Seltzer handy, should your stomach be delicate.)

When used in a sentence such as: "What the hell do you think I am anyway, chopped liver?!" it shows a person's amazement and feeling of being offended by not being regarded highly or importantly enough.

While rooted in Yiddish or Jewish culture, this expression was actually coined in America. Chopped liver is most often only served as a side dish and so if one feels that one is being overlooked or put aside, one can ask if one is chopped liver.

How that actually makes any real sense I have no idea.

Why did I bother to look it up and eventually write about is? Because of the new Eminem song "Without Me", particularly the part where he sings:

I created a monster, cuz nobody wants to
See Marshall no more they want Shady
I'm chopped liver

Pâte de foie de poulet avec Cognac

(Pureed Chicken Livers with Cognac)

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. It's a fancy name for chopped chicken liver. This recipe aims to move steadfast slaves to convention into the ranks of the open minded.  This recipe begins with the simplicity of a humble holiday hors d'oeuvre, and becomes an avant-garde creation the limitations of which are equivalent only to those of the chef's imagination.

The goal is to get people to eat chopped liver (in this case a creation more like a pâte than a traditional mincemeat; it's smoother and slightly more elegant). The problem is that my humble, anecdotal experience is that there's no gray area between those who love chopped liver and those who despise it. This can be a Good Thing in the event that you enjoy this dish as much as do I but don't want to go through the trouble of fussing over it. And fuss over it you will. The chopped-liver-haters will leave plenty for you to enjoy.

Years ago, it seems, that even roadside diners would serve a lovely version of this dish, scooped onto a lettuce leaf, surrounded by plastic packets of saltine crackers and perhaps garnished with a wedge of lemon. These days one must seek it out at delicatessen restaurants or at food stores which purvey kosher or Jewish delicacies.

WARNING: THIS RECIPE IS NOT KOSHER. It's so treyfish that if you're a Jew and even consider making this, you probably had scrambled eggs with cheese, bacon and a side of shrimp cocktail for your breakfast this morning. Okay, I promise, no more inside jokes.

Now, start by gathering together the ingredients:

  • 750 ml. (one bottle) fine Cognac, V.S.O.P. preferred; X.O. if money's no object. If you've access to the "St. Cyr" brand of French Brandy (V.S.O.P.) save yourself a fortune and use this 'cause it's a lot cheaper than true appellation Cognac, and just as good.
  • 750 ml. (one bottle) very dry white wine, a Fume Blanc from Robert Mondavi in Napa would be superb. If you're on the continent (or have a good wine shop nearby), a blush or light-hearted rouge from Provence (e.g., Coteau d'Aix en Provence) would be a satisfactory pairing. The Sauvignon Blanc of Kim Crawford Vineyards in New Zealand is also quite a good match for this dish.
  • 4 jumbo eggs (those inexpensive pullets just won't do; remember, there are times when size does matter - there's more of the precious yolk than albumin in Jumbos)
  • 2 pounds fresh chicken livers, (Empire brand Kosher or Perdue, in the U.S.) trimmed of excess gristle, and picked over to remove any green bits (all I know, lacking a comprehensive knowledge of the anatomy of poultry, is that this green stuff is not good, whatever it is, and will lend a bitter taste to one's dish).
  • 1 cup milk.
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil (Can be light or blended; do not use extra-virgin as it is used herein only for sauteeing).
  • 2 giant, sweet onions (not the little yellow ones which come in a mesh bag; use the big sweet colossal ones used by restaurants; optimally, "Vidalia" onions).
  • A generous pinch of dried Rosemary, crumbled up finely (just smash it in-between pieces of cellophane with a mallet).
  • A tiny pinch of Madras Curry Powder (less than 1/8 tsp.).
  • 1/4 tsp. Colman's brand dry mustard - no exceptions - use more if you dig the piquancy that only this singular stuff can impart.
  • 1/2 pound salted butter (or unsalted, if you prefer).
  • Salt and cracked black pepper to taste.
  • A jar of medium-sized cornichons
  • A jar of roasted Italian red sweet peppers
  • 2 jars of pickled pearl "cocktail" onions


Open the bottle of wine. Pour a generous (six ounces or more) glass of wine and contemplate trimming the livers. Once you've consumed enough wine to deal with the slimy, arduous task of trimming the livers, go ahead; it's really not a bad chore. The key is not to be too fussy because after all you're gonna cook 'em up and puree the suckers, so it's not a big deal if you miss a little membrane here or there. Place the chicken livers in a bowl and cover with the milk. It's a good idea to allow at least 1/2 to 1 hour for the livers to sit in the milk.

Place the eggs, preferably at room temperature, in a pot (do not use aluminum; the yolks will discolor) just large enough to hold them. Cover with tepid tapwater. Place on a high fire until bubbles appear; then simmer the eggs for 14 minutes. Have at the ready a large bowl filled with ice water. Drain the simmering eggs and plunge into the ice water. Leave them there while you prepare the livers.

Open the bottle of Cognac. Prepare a cutting board and knife with which to coarsely chop the onions. Pour out four ounces of Cognac. As you chop the onions, every time the tears stop you in your tracks, retreat from the place where you're chopping the onions to a place where there's fresh air. Inhale the bouquet of the Cognac, and drink an ounce of it, neat, without ice. You can now return to the chore of chopping the onions. An alternative to chopping the onions yourself is peeling and cutting the onions into quarters or sixths or eighths-size wedges that'll fit into the food chute of your Cuisinart. Process (slice) using the coarsest slicing disc you own. Rinse the bowl and blade when you're done but no need to use soap and water; you'll need the regular S-shaped blade to puree the livers and onions later.

Heat a dry sauté pan large enough to accommodate the onions and the livers. Once it's hot, put the olive oil and then the onions in the pan. Add the rosemary and curry and cook the onions on very high heat until the outsides are slightly browned but the insides of the pieces remain firm. This necessitates a lot of stirring. Lift most of the onions out of the pan with a tongs or a slotted spoon and reserve on a plate. Now place the thoroughly drained livers in the pan and turn the heat down a bit to medium-high. Sauté the livers, stirring constantly. Douse the livers with about 1/4 cup of the Cognac. Feel free to light the Cognac on fire; this does little for the flavor but what the heck, if you like fire, then go ahead. While you're at it, pour yourself another healthy dose of Cognac. You'll see the livers become nice and plump when they're reaching doneness; if cut in two, the inside should have only the slightest hint of pink, if any (never fear; they'll cook the rest of the way sitting in the pan). So, there you go, have at some more Cognac once you've removed the livers from the heat. Set them aside and place the cooked onions back in the pan. Still off the heat, add the curry and stir the mixture to facilitate blending of flavors and speed up cooling..

Let the livers cool to just below room temperature. There's nothing wrong with speeding this process up by placing the uncovered sauté pan in the refrigerator.

Now we must peel the eggs. Remove the cooled eggs from the ice-water bath. Place each egg on the counter and apply pressure with your palm just until the shell cracks. Continue rolling with your palm and cracking the shell. The shell should come off with ease in two pieces. Rinse off any bits. Should the shells not easily come away from the cooked, chilled eggs, drink at least two more shots of Cognac and telephone the store which sold you the eggs. Complain that you were sold eggs which weren't strictly fresh and tell them you'll never shop there again. Hang up, then quarter each egg and set aside.

Lest we turn our livers into baby food, we'll modify our alcohol intake, re-visiting the wine. Pour another glass of wine and do as follows: place the S-shaped chopping blade onto the spindle of the Cuisinart after attaching the bowl. Place the livers and the onions in the bowl of the Cuisinart. Process by pulsing for about 5 seconds, scraping the larger bits down the sides of the bowl, sipping your wine, and repeat until the onions and the livers are a firm paste.

Getting Creative

Now you can add a bit of an extra touch that makes this dish your very own creation. A small bottle of thoroughly drained nonpareil capers may be added to the mixture at this time. A quarter cup of chopped fresh parsley is an alternative (try not to increase the moisture level too much). Between a half-ounce and an ounce of potent marijuana, cleansed of seeds and stems, may also be added at this time. Just be certain that none of the party guests are either a) subject to random drug testing or b) members of a Federal, state or local law enforcement agency nor sworn officers of the court. You must also be careful that the host/hostess's significant other nor any of their family has just returned from a treatment center lest the poor soul relapse and therefore require another protocol of treatment, which is usually quite expensive and extremely time consuming.

Cut the butter into very coarse cubes. Place the eggs, butter and a modicum of pepper in the basket of the Cuisinart (add salt also if you've used sweet butter) . Then pulse the butter and the pureed livers, stopping to scrape the bowl, again using care merely to incorporate the butter and not cause it to melt. Conversely, avoid leaving lumps of butter/egg larger than about the size of half a pea. Check your seasoning during this process, keeping in mind that after the puree is refrigerated it will taste ever-so-slightly less salty than when in semi-liquid state.

Scoop the livers out of the bowl of the Cuisinart with a spatula, into your choice of loaf pan large enough to accommodate them. It helps to line the loaf pan with plastic wrap, because then the whole loaf pops out after it's chilled in the refrigerator until hardened through, at least 2 hours.

Turn the loaf out onto a platter lined with lettuce leaves. Decorate one side of the loaf with an array of cornichons, cut across so as to make little circles. Cut jarred roasted red peppers into tiny cubes and press them into the other half of the loaf. If you've the patience, cut 2 jars of pickled cocktail onions into halves, and press these into the paste in-between the green cornichon side and the red pepper side.

Find mild crackers such as melba toasts or some other favorite which is relatively plain in taste and of a pleasing texture to match such a soft, buttery concoction. Hand these to your host/hostess along with the finished liver upon your arrival and ask that their household help arrange the crackers artfully around the loaf.

Now, finish your wine and admire your handiwork. Save the rest of the cognac to console yourself in the event that you show up at the party with your carefully-prepared hors d'oeuvre only to discover that all the others in attendance are vegetarian, or worse, vegan.

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