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Ultimate Chopped Liver

June 09, 2021
Ultimate Chopped Liver

Chopped liver has come to mean second best (“What am I, chopped liver?”). But this appetizer doesn’t have to be second best. As a rabbi once told me, gehakte leber is perhaps the only uniquely Jewish dish.

Featured in: How To Make the Ultimate Chopped Liver


  • 5tablespoons schmaltz or vegetable oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 ½pounds yellow onions (about 4), cut in rounds
  • 1clove garlic, minced
  • 1pound chicken liver (see note below)
  • 2tablespoons brandy or cognac
  • 2tablespoons chicken stock
  • 1bay leaf
  • ¼teaspoon hot paprika
  • Leaves from 1 branch of thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2large eggs, hardboiled and peeled
  • 2tablespoons chopped parsley, or to taste
  • Dark pumpernickel bread, to serve
Yield: About 2 cups chopped liver


  • Step 1

    Put 2 tablespoons of schmaltz into a large heavy-bottomed frying pan set over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cover the pan. Once the onions start sizzling, lower the heat and continue cooking, covered, for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then cook, uncovered and stirring frequently, over medium-high heat for about 20 more minutes, or until the onions are brown and caramelized.

  • Step 2

    Meanwhile, rinse the livers and remove the veins, then pat dry. Warm 2 tablespoons of the schmaltz in a small frying pan set over high heat. Add the livers and sear on all sides, then lower the heat to medium-high and add the brandy or cognac, chicken broth, bay leaf, paprika, thyme, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring often, for about 3 to 5 minutes, until the livers are just barely pink inside. Remove the livers from the heat until the onions are done cooking, and discard the bay leaf.

  • Step 3

    When the onions are caramelized, add the livers to the onions and cook for 1 minute, just to warm through. Then, using a hand chopper or a food processor fitted with a steel blade, finely chop the livers and onions with the eggs, parsley, and the remaining tablespoon of schmaltz. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve on dark pumpernickel bread.

  • Note: You can also prepare this recipe using kashered livers, which are already broiled, thus removing all blood from them. Follow the directions above but only rinse the livers and pat dry before briefly searing to warm through. Add more schmaltz to your taste as the livers will be drier than if you use raw livers.

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