Putting aside all preconceived notions of chopped liver (what am I...), I whipped up this little appetizer for my friend Shauna's birthday. I was a bit apprehensive at first having never sampled this standard deli fare and as most of you know by now, contrary to popular belief, I am not a Jewish grandmother. The only livers I've ever eaten have come in the form of a velvety mousse, though I do still have a few (slightly repressed) memories of eating sauteed livers as a child, pretending that it was beef jerky. On the totem pole of foods, this was probably on par with bitter melon or turtle soup. I mean is there really any other way to describe the taste of livers other than livery?
Just as my taste buds have grown to appreciate bitter melon, I wondered if the same could be said for livers. Would I still want to plug my nose or trick my taste buds into thinking I was eating foie gras? Livers have an assertive flavor and are quite rich. So besides the sauteed livers and hard-boiled eggs, I added extra parsley and thyme to punch up the flavor and add some freshness. I also added a shot of single malt scotch at the end. At this point, the chopped liver was chopped liver, I hoped anyhow. Since I had never had it before, I was just going purely off instinct.
I wanted to offer up a tangy counter part to garnish. I pickled roasted beets (from Weiser Farms) in a brine of apple cider vinegar, palm sugar and brown mustard seeds. I also used the pickled red onion recipe from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook. This was a tedious process where the onions had to be triple dipped/cooled but never cooked in order to preserve their crispness. Needless to say, I was in a pickling frenzy last week.
I wanted to offer an assortment of crackers and breads to go with everything so I turned to Peter Reinhart's book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice for his lavash cracker recipe. I've had great luck so far with his pizza dough and cinnamon rolls. I tripled the lavash recipe and made six whole half-sheets worth of lavash. That's A LOT! It was nearly impossible for me to roll it out paper thin by hand so I ended up using my pasta roller. So much easier. I wish I had thought of that with the first batch instead of pleading (literally) with the gluten to relax. My favorite toppings were caraway and white sesame seed, but the sea salt and herb variation was quite tasty too.
I served it alongside some roasted walnuts. There was a sound symphony in my dining room between the walnuts and the lavash cracking. All in all, I was happy with my chopped liver, but might still be reluctant to have any Jewish grandmothers over for Shabbat dinner. :)
So if you ever ask me... "What am I chopped liver?" and I respond "Yes"... well now that's a compliment!