David Hagedorn's grandmother was called Gigi by her grandchildren. He says this recipe was passed down to his mother, who took over the Gigi moniker when she became a grandmother.
Because David spent part of his career as a chef, he of course felt compelled to tweak the dish. The major change: no more passing the livers, onions and eggs through a meat grinder. Using a food processor instead changes the mixture's texture, but it makes the task much easier.
Another difference: Instead of using chicken fat, he uses the duck fat that he always has on hand (from making duck confit). That fat, used over and over and frozen between uses, tastes vaguely of cinnamon, allspice, clove, thyme and garlic, which is why David's chopped liver always tastes different from just about anyone else's.
He likes to divide the mixture among several small ramekins: one for serving right away (which doesn't need the layer of duck fat on top) and rest frozen for later use.
Make Ahead: Stored in ramekins and covered with a layer of duck fat, the chopped liver can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Yield: Makes about 2 cups
- 3/4 cup rendered, solidified duck fat, plus more for sealing, if necessary (may substitute rendered chicken fat)
- 2 medium to large yellow onions, cut in half, then into thin half-moon slices (4 cups)
- 1/2 teaspoon onion salt, or more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
- 8 ounces raw chicken livers, trimmed of all sinew and fat
- 2 large hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut into quarters (See NOTE)
- 1 tablespoon port, Madeira or dry sherry
Heat the duck fat in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until it melts and shimmers. Add the onions and stir lightly to coat; season with onion salt and pepper. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, until the onions' moisture has evaporated and the onions begin to sizzle and brown. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are deep brown and caramelized; adjust the heat as needed so they don't burn. Drain the onions, reserving them and the strained fat (separately).
Return 1/4 cup of the duck fat to the saute pan and heat over medium heat.
Blot the livers dry on paper towels and season them well with onion salt and pepper to taste. Add the livers to the hot fat; cook for 6 to 8 minutes, turning them once, until they are lightly browned and just cooked through; their juices should have just a hint of pinkness. Be careful while sauteing the livers; they will probably splatter. Remove from the heat; cool for 20 minutes.
Transfer the livers and the fat from the pan to a food processor. Add the onions and eggs, 2 tablespoons of the reserved duck fat and the port, Madeira or sherry. Process for 1 to 2 minutes, until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl halfway through. Taste, and add onion salt or pepper as needed.
Divide the liver mixture evenly among several small ramekins and use a butter knife or offset spatula to level the surfaces. At this point, the chopped liver can be served right away.
If you are storing the chopped liver, top with enough of the reserved duck fat to completely cover the mixture, with no parts of it exposed. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.
Serve the liver at room temperature, without the duck fat. (Scrape off the top layer of fat and reserve it for another use, such as rice pilaf, fried potatoes or sauteed vegetables.)
NOTE: To make hard-cooked eggs, place them in a small saucepan and cover with cool water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then remove from heat, cover and let sit for 20 minutes. Transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water to cool for several minutes before peeling.
From Sourced columnist David Hagedorn.
Tested by David Hagedorn.
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