Sunday, May 15, 2011

Wild Turkey Liver Pate with Caramelized Shallots and Smoked Mexican Sea Salt...a.k.a Chopped Liver

Why ? Because it was there...
I am a very lucky girl, for a lot of reasons...

First, I am lucky enough to have grown up in (and still live in) a city with a large, thriving, and inclusive Jewish community. This Catholic girl had the honor of attending many a Shabbat meal and Passover Seder in her helped, probably, that I was insatiably curious (and very respectful)  when it came to other religions. I wanted to know everything - why certain rituals were performed, why other things were forbidden, and most importantly what people ate and why. I grew up behind a  kosher deli, and my first real job was at a kosher bakery (Diamond Bakery, how I miss you so...blueberry babka like you wouldn't believe !). I'm fairly fluent in Yiddish, I know the difference between, say, a minyan and a mitzvah, and most importantly, I know good bagels from bad (and there's barely any good ones to be found even here anymore, but that's a blog for a different day.)

Second, I'm also lucky enough to have married in to a family of serious sportsmen (as well as raising one myself), who keep me well stocked with all sorts of interesting items for my larder. They also like to eat, and are fairly tolerant with all of my experiments with their bounty...which is how I came to be in possession of a fresh wild turkey this week. And, to quote my idol Julia, I told them to "save the liver !"...because third and last (well, for this blog anyway) - I absolutely love liver. Thanks to my German heritage I grew up eating things like blood sausages and liverwurst (spread thickly on pumpernickel with a good mustard...still one of my favorite sandwiches ever).

All of this combined has led to a serious addiction...chopped liver.  Back at the agency I worked at for most of the 90's I was unofficially adopted by three different bubbes - wonderful women, and seriously good cooks all. Passover was definitely the high point of the culinary year, because that's when they'd start bringing in the chopped liver. All of them wanted me to like theirs the best, and of course I told them all that theirs really was...more for me, that way. (And in case they're still reading, I won't tell you whose really was ;) ). One of my coworkers from the Midwest used to always call it "liver pate", which cracked me's chopped liver ! The title of this post is a nod to her ;) . In any event, I picked up some great pointers from all three dear ladies, and combined with my own experience in the kitchen I think I've really come up with a winner here.

This recipe works with any kind of poultry liver (beef is too strong)...chicken, turkey, duck...whatever you have. And by all means, substitute regular salt for smoked, or onions for will still be delicious. Just try it ! This is one of our favorite noshes...a true Culinary Orgasm.

Makes about a cup...easily doubled

Chopped Liver

1/2 lb livers (as fresh as possible)
1 egg, hard boiled
1 large shallot or 1/2 onion, chopped
6 tablespoons margarine, chicken fat (schmaltz), or unsalted butter (only use butter if you don't need it to be kosher)
1 tsp smoked sea salt (or kosher salt), or to taste
pinch of fresh ground pepper

In a small pan, melt half the margarine over medium-low heat. Add shallots, and cook over low heat until caramelized, about 10-15 minutes. Set aside.

Melt the rest of the margarine in the pan and add the livers. Saute over medium heat until livers are no longer pink in the center, about 5 minutes or so.

Put the livers and the egg in a food processor, and pulse just until coarsely chopped (do not over process). Add the shallots, and pulse a few more times to distribute. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with crackers, toast points, or of course matzo :) .


  1. That is a fantastic recipe. Everyone had good things to say about it yesterday!

  2. oh good, I'm so glad you liked it !!