By Max Cohen
The gehakte leber is probably one of the most popular dishes in Jewish cuisine, and the recipe is so simple that it can be a tasty meal all year round.
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 ounces fresh kosher chicken livers
¼ small onion
3 medium eggs
1 celery stalk
2 teaspoons chicken schmaltz (or sunflower oil)
Schmaltz is rendered chicken fat, and was historically a convenient way to incorporate every part of the bird into a meal. If it’s not available to you, sunflower oil is a fine alternative.
Whichever way you choose to prepare the chopped liver, the first steps will be similar. Start by boiling the eggs in a saucepan. The recipe requires firm, hard-boiled eggs. While the water is heating up, you can use this time to chop the onion and celery into fine pieces.
Next, heat the vegetable oil in a pan and brown the chopped onions slightly. Once the onions begin to grow translucent, add the livers and celery. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then flip the livers and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Do not undercook chicken liver for safety reasons, and also keep an eye on the pan to prevent overcooking.
When it is ready, remove the pan from its heat source and let it cool down enough that you can work with the livers.
You can choose between two ways to prepare it, old fashioned or modern.
To chop it up the old-fashioned way, place the liver, onion, celery and two of the three hard-boiled eggs on a wooden board. Use a well-sharpened butcher knife to chop the liver and mixture into a rough consistency. It should remain choppy, not as fine as pate. When done, simply mix in the chicken fat (schmaltz) or oil.
To chop it up the modern way, place the ingredients in your blender for a quick 3-second whirl. Err on the side of caution to prevent the consistency from becoming too soft. Afterward, add the chicken fat and mix again for another few seconds. This is faster than using a knife, but it can be harder to get the texture right.
Finally, for decoration, grate the last egg and use it to add some color contrast to the chopped liver. You can also separate the egg yellow and white and make a design. A favorite garnish is cucumber slices and chopped parsley — all meat dishes are brightened by a little greenery.
Fans of spice will enjoy eating their chopped liver with chrain (horseradish). Or you can spread it on kichel, a sturdy and slightly sweet cracker.
The gehakte leber is a dish that can be served anytime and will enchant any taste buds.
Max Cohen is the founder of Gift Kosher, which provides gourmet, elegant and kosher gifts, with the certification of OK or OU Kosher Pareve.