Recipe: Traditional Chopped Liver
Makes two cups
3 large eggs
¾ cup schmaltz, or more to taste
1 Spanish onion, thinly sliced
1 pound chicken livers
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sauteing the liver
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar (optional)
Gribenes (optional, see note)
NOTE: Gribenes (pronounced GRIB-beh-ness) are the crispy bits of chicken skin cracklings produced in the making of schmaltz.
1. In a small saucepan, cover the eggs with 1 inch of water, and bring the water to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water reaches a full boil, cover the pan and take it off the heat. Let the eggs sit in the covered pan, off the heat, for 12 to 15 minutes, then remove them from the water.
2. Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over medium heat, melt a third of the schmaltz, and cook the onion in it until it’s completely tender and on the brink of browning, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the cooked onion to a plate.
3. Add a little more schmaltz to the pan, increase the heat to high, and sauté the livers, salting them as you do, until they are warm all through with just some pinkness remaining, seven to 10 minutes.
4. Peel the eggs. Run all the ingredients through a meat grinder fitted with a small die into a mixing bowl. Add 1 teaspoon salt, the pepper, and the vinegar, if using, and stir to combine. Stir in ½ cup of the schmaltz, in addition to the gribenes, if using (you can also wait and sprinkle them on top as a garnish), and continue to stir until all the ingredients are well incorporated. (This can also be done using a food processor.) Taste it and add more schmaltz, salt, vinegar, and pepper as you wish. Chill completely.
How to make schmaltz
You can make schmaltz with any amount of chicken skin and fat. Chop the skin and fat finely, to ensure better rendering:
1. In a frying pan over gentle heat, place chopped fat and skin in a small amount of water (about ¼ cup water to 2 cups skin and fat, or what is removed from eight chicken thighs).
2. Browning begins once the water and moisture have cooked off. This is when you add 1 Spanish onion, diced.
3. The fat should be clear and yellow, not brown, so keep the heat low.
4. The brown bits of skin and onion are known as the gribenes. They will remain in your sieve as you strain off the fat. (Use a fine mesh sieve or straining cloth.)
5. Reserve the gribenes and strained fat separately — both can be kept in the fridge for about a week or in the freezer for about six months. This process will yield about ½ cup fat and ½ cup gribenes.
Adapted by The Palm Beach Post from “The Book of Schmaltz: Love Song to a Forgotten Fat” (Little Brown, $25), by Michael Ruhlman.