Despite what the supermarket aisle may lead you to believe, there's more to an animal than neatly wrapped styrofoam trays of meat. From tongue to tail, offal (pronounced awful) encompasses all those taboo edibles that don't make the cut at your local grocer. Just Offal is here to explore these oft-neglected byproducts of butchering, featuring different offal meals from establishments across the valley. This week: Chopped Liver served up by Chompie's.
The Ick Factor: Chopped liver bears a striking resemblance to something you may have in your cabinet right now, but
probably hopefully have never tried: cat food. Not that cat food served in crystal glassware either, with succulent chunks of real meat that look way better than your tired old can of Dinty Moore. No, we're talking the menacing, mystery meat cat food that plops out of the can and retains it shape. And believe me, you want none of that.
Chopped liver is actually a ground mixture of chicken livers and a hefty amount of chicken fat, with other delectable additions thrown in to round it out, like onions, hard boiled eggs and seasonings. Consider it the Jewish deli's equivalent of pâté.
(all the juicy details after the jump)
The Offal Choice: Chopped chicken liver smeared on bagel chips, from the deli at Chompie's.
Tastes Just Like: Smooth, fatty fowl spread. Chompie's take on chopped liver lacked a distinct, meaty chicken flavor. Instead it was a savory, slightly sweet spread with a rich mouth feel courtesy of all the added fat. The flavor was delicate and well balanced, with the egg, onion, liver and spices all ground up into a harmonious paste that was a perfect complement to marbled rye bagel chips.
It was surprising how muted the liver taste was. None of the coppery tang characteristic to calf liver was present, and none of the general muskiness of organ meat was detectable. The texture was still slightly grainy, similar to the powdery texture of calf liver, but it managed to avoid a mealy feeling with the addition of all those other ingredients.
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If you have yet to try chopped liver, go make a Jewish grandma proud and expand your culinary horizons. The flavor and texture are delicate and more reminiscent of a pate than an intimidating plate of fried liver and onions.
You Know It's Cooked Improperly When: Chopped liver can be a bit too grainy at times, so for the love of all that is smooth and delectable, don't overcook the liver! As with any offal meat that filters blood day in and day out, the younger the critter and the fresher the cut, the better your offal dish is going to be.
Always been a DIY-er? This is your lucky day, because chicken livers can be picked up from just about any grocery store, even the fancy ones. Epicurians enjoy a good pate, too! After procuring your livers, soak them in a bowl of milk to leech out any residual funk, then whip up some chopped liver.