What Am I, Chopped Liver?

Here’s an easy one for parties: liver paté to top crostini.

Liver is misunderstood and maligned. It can have a strong taste, but doesn’t have to be completely overwhelming. Part of the problem is that it’s served often just fried up in a pan, which is totally uninteresting. Instead, do just a little easy work and you can have a great appetizer in no time at all. Pour about 1/4 cup of olive oil into a cast iron skillet. Chop up a medium onion (or a large one, if you’re making a lot), and add to the hot oil at low-medium heat. Sweat them for 10 minutes.

To the pan, add a couple of anchovies, and some pepper flakes. Just a little bit of the pepper goes a long way in this recipe, because of how we’re preparing it. A teaspoon is fine, two teaspoons will taste somewhat hot to most people.

To the pan add your liver. If you can afford it, and have them handy, use duck or goose liver. If, like me, you don’t usually have duck or goose livers in your house, chicken liver is a fine substitute – it’s cheap, easy to get anywhere, and is fairly light. If you want a stronger taste, you can use veal liver. Beef liver will be too strong for this recipe. If you used a small onion, add a half of pound of meat. If you used a large onion, add a pound. The first time you make this recipe, I suggest you start small.

You’re going to cook the liver at medium heat for about 10 minutes total, turning every few minutes.

Normally, if you cooked meat this much it would dry out. But we have a secret weapon. After 10 minutes, add some cheap but drinky red wine, between 1/4 and 1/2 cup. You’re going to continue cooking until the liquid thickens noticeably.

At that point, take it off the heat, and drop the whole mess in a cuisinart. pulse until you have a thick, rustic paté. Don’t purée it into submission. You want to get rid of the obvious lumps, but not liquefy it. If you do it right, it should have the consistency of coarse, stone-ground mustard. While it’s in the cuisinart, add salt and pepper to taste.

This will keep in the refrigerator for a day or two, but it is wonderful if you can manage to serve it hot, on crusty, stale, slightly burnt italian toast. If you’re serving liver paté at a party you should probably also have something bland and tasteless around so that your vegetarian guests will have something more in line with their desires. Perhaps you could spoon some Old El Paso salsa from a jar onto some toast for them. That might work.

People will tell you that they don’t eat liver because it’s unhealthy. Unless you are planning to eat this dish every day of your life, or unless you have a preexisting cholesterol problem, you should ignore these people with wild abandon. Don’t spend your life in fear. Eat dangerously. Buon appetito!