Thursday, August 12, 2010

Recipe: Fried Chicken Livers with Tomato and Goat Cheese

I never had one of those "liver and onions" childhoods. (In my mind, being fed liver and onions goes hand-in-hand with "I had to walk five miles to school, uphill, both ways.") For me, liver of any kind was the stuff of legend - never touched it, never tasted it, never even saw it. I had the vague idea that livers were something disgusting served to punish children. Whenever I bought a whole chicken, I couldn't discard the bag containing the neck and livers fast enough. What else was I going to do with those things?? I had no idea how to prepare them. Chicken livers are notably absent from my go-to cookbook How to Cook Everything... and if they're not in How to Cook Everything, well, maybe they're not supposed to be cooked.

Then I had the chicken liver appetizers at Lucca here in Des Moines. Wow - my eyes were opened to just what I had been throwing away. Everything I thought I knew had been turned upside down. It appeared that chicken livers were... delicious??

I've been thinking about that appetizer for quite awhile, and since I was cooking a whole chicken tonight anyway, I decided to give the livers a try. I couldn't find a recipe in my trusty Mark Bittman tome, so I improvised this one based on what I had on hand. Tomatoes and goat cheese were in my kitchen just waiting to be used up; I thought they would be a good vehicle for the fried chicken livers, and would also serve as a textural constrast to the crunch of the breading. Speaking of that crunch, double breading is the key to a perfect exterior - these were wonderfully crispy without being too heavy.

The next time you pull out that mystery bag from inside a chicken, try this instead of throwing it in the trash. It took me less than twenty minutes from start to finish; in essence, it's the perfect way to curb your hunger while you wait for that chicken to cook. 

Fried Chicken Livers with Tomato and Goat Cheese
Liver from 1 chicken
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tbsp sea salt
1/4 tbsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tbsp your favorite spices or seasoning (I used Old Bay)
1 small tomato
1-2 tbsp goat cheese
Vegetable or canola oil for frying

Rinse and dry liver, then cut the lobes into two separate pieces. Place in a small bowl and pour milk over the top. Throw in a pinch of salt and a little fresh ground pepper; allow liver to soak in the milk while you make the breading and start heating the oil.

Combine flour and seasoning in a small bowl. Set aside.

Pour about 1/2 inch of oil into a small pan for frying. Heat until the oil bubbles around an inserted toothpick. When bubbles form, the oil is ready.

Meanwhile, heat a pan over medium-low and add a little olive oil. Cut tomato into four thick slices. When oil is heated, spread tomato slices out and top with a little salt and pepper. Allow to cook while you fry the livers, flipping and reseasoning halfway through. Tomatoes will be ready when soft and nearly caramelized around the edges - about the same time that your livers will be ready.

Remove liver segments from the milk and dredge each side in the flour mixture. Dunk segments in the milk again, then coat one more time with flour.

Fry breaded liver pieces in oil, turning frequently, until golden brown - about 2-3 minutes per side.

Drain fried liver on paper towels. Divide tomates between two plates for serving and top with about one tablespoon of goat cheese. Once drained, place a piece of liver on top of the goat cheese and serve while warm.

The breading turned out to be light, crispy, and incredibly flavorful. The creamy smear of goat cheese and warm, sweet tomato were a wonderful contrast to the crunchy, savory breading. Chickens take a long time to roast, and I always get a little hungry before they're done. Now that I know the possibilities of chicken livers, I will probably make this appetizer to tide me over every single time I have a chicken in the oven!


  1. I really had no idea if they were going to be terrible or wonderful. I'll admit I was a little nervous about taking that first bite!

  2. Hmmm, not convinced!

    I wonder if they are even good for you?

  3. I'm very much looking forward to more of these... They were amazing!

  4. I'll go ahead and say that while they did make me nervous (I've had livers and onions several times), the texture of the fried livers really held up with the help of the breading. I think the goat cheese and tomato were essential to my opinion, as they gave a great contrast. All in all, I actually think they were delicious!

  5. I want you to make this dish the next time you come home. I always loved chicken liver. Simply, I was kept deprived by your mother.