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Episcopalian Chopped Liver

Episcopalian Chopped Liver
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        For my final Chewing the Fat post of the year, I wanted to share a recipe I developed about 25 years ago.  It appeared in Saveur magazine and if you google it, you’ll find it on several of recipe sites.  To me, what’s odd is that there’s no explanation on any of these sites that gives any indication of why it is called what it is.  The Saveur article gave the whole tale but neither the recipe nor the story (nor its author, by the way), made it onto www.saveur.com  So here is the tale and the recipe.  I just made it for our Holiday Open House and once again, it was a huge hit. 
“Among the delicacies of Jewish American cooking, chopped liver is surely one of the greatest.  Its ingredients are humble:  Chicken livers, onions, eggs, salt, pepper, and schmaltz.  As anyone with a knowledge of Jewish American idiom will tell you, schmaltz and its adjectival schmaltzy means something that is over-done, over-decorated, over-emotional, over-the-top.  Schmaltz is chicken fat.  And when you put it together with the other ingredients in chopped liver, you have an appetizer that is unquestionably over the top.   It is a marvelous taste, rich and satisfying, and rivaling any great pate.

        One can freeze chicken fat every time one buys a chicken and then create true Jewish chopped liver.  However, the schmaltz part threw me.  Now I’d been introduced to this delicious dish by my friend Sandra who made her Jewish mother, Fanny’s, chopped liver for me.  I wanted to make my own. But in the absence of schmaltz, Sandra recommended I speak to her mother for advice.
The little Episcopalian secret to great chopped liver
 So I telephoned Fanny Fanny (as she was called because she repeated everything twice).  She lived in Miami Beach and she was only too happy to share her recipe.  However, when we got to the schmaltz part, and I explained my dilemma, she said: “Dollink, dollink, you can use other kinds of fat, other kinds of fat. Think. Think.” “Butter?” I offered.  “Butter? Butter?  No, think again.”  “Well” said I, “would bacon fat be good ?”.  After a silence so profound that I thought I could hear the Atlantic Ocean in the background, Fanny replied: “You could, You could.  But you didn’t hear it from me, no, you didn’t hear it from me.” 
 But absent the schmaltz — and the religious laws of Judaism — I adapted what I knew to this recipe.  It uses both bacon and bacon fat and begs Fanny’s forgiveness.  And I have to admit, my Chicken Liver is just as schmaltzy as the next guy’s, just as schmaltzy as the next guy’s. 

5 thoughts on “Episcopalian Chopped Liver”

  • Whatever year this recipe was first published, and in whichever food oriented magazine ( or NPR maybe?) I made it straightaway, and have made for every Christmas Eve buffet since. It takes chopped liver to a whole new level. If you love chopped liver, you will flip over this one.

    • I can’t tell you how much that pleases me. It first appeared in the article I wrote for Saveur Magazine. It got picked up from there. It is a strangely wonderful dish. Merry Christmas and thanks for taking the time to write. Monte

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