Among many things we quickly discovered about America when we first arrived is that you could buy chicken liver by the pound in plastic containers. In addition to its abundance, it was also shockingly cheap, which worked to our advantage because we were just as shockingly poor. In Russia, the only time you could get your hands on chicken livers would be by buying a chicken, which came with all of its entrails and a few feathers here and there, that you’d be responsible in plucking. This rarity, of course, made it sheer delicacy and would be preserved only for the children’s consumption. They would be the ones with the highest nutritional need, and chicken livers are a great source of iron and hemoglobin.
For me, however, chicken livers meant gagging and disgust – it was one of my most abhorred foods. My mother would fry up some onions, dust the chicken livers in flour and salt and fry that up as well. The resulting dish was then placed before me and my mother, standing akimbo in the kitchen over me, would oversee the torturous and seemingly interminable feeding process. I would, of course, eat the onions and then poke around at the liver. The meal would always end in tears, with my mother finally losing her patience and snapping; and me, scared and nauseous, wailing over my plate.
I don’t mean to paint my mother a monster – she certainly was trying her best to make sure I had as much good, wholesome food as possible; and has taught me how to make some of my favorite dishes. I think that I was a very picky eater in my childhood and could pretty much drive the most patient of people crazy. Chicken liver, back then, was my arch-nemesis.
I don’t know when my palate changed and learned to love chicken livers, but it does now. And I was excited to find out when KS and I started dating, that I found another chicken liver fan as well. I showed him how we made it in my family and he turned around and made the preparation even better. His secret, while the chicken livers are cooking, to periodically add a tiny bit of the flour mixture to places that have become “un-coated” with it. The result, a crispy outside, delicately textured, almost buttery taste. Nothing goes better with it than a plate of freshly fried onions, a tiny dash of good balsamic vinegar, and a sprinkling of Maldon sea salt.
1 lb chicken livers, rinsed and drained
2 medium sized onions, peeled and thinly sliced in semi-circles
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup flour
1 tbs salt
1 tsp pepper
3 tbsp olive oil, more to add later
Wash and drain the chicken liver. Set aside.
In a non-stick skillet, over medium heat, sauté the onions and let them first get translucent, then golden, then light brown. Turn the heat to very low.
In another non-stick skillet, heat more olive oil over medium heat. Mix the flour, salt and pepper in a bowl. One by one, dip the chicken livers into the flour mix and gently coat each liver. Place the liver in the skillet – the oil should sizzle, but not too much. After you are done with dipping the livers and placing them onto the pan, set the flour mixture aside and do not throw it out. The chicken livers cook approximately 25 minutes and you should always check at the end by cutting the biggest liver piece and make sure there is no pink in there. You will cook the chicken livers over medium/high heat for a few minutes, searing the sides, after which you will need to turn the heat to low and periodically turn the livers over to another side. If you see a “naked” spot that doesn’t have the flour coating, gently sprinkle a little flour mix over the spot.
Serve with the fried onions on the side. We also like to sprinkle a little bit of good balsamic vinegar and some Maldon sea salt. This, however, does not good leftovers make.