You snooze, you lose: Chicken livers with bacon and onions

There are those of us who like liver, and then there are the rest of you. Whenever I make chicken, I pull out that little bag of giblets and cook the liver and heart for the dog. He’s usually right at my feet when I’m cooking, alert to any droppings. However, if the canine is snoozing, Gabe, the resident teenager, steals his treat. Sometimes, we get a craving and I need to buy enough for a whole meal. This recipe calls for a pound of livers, enough for four offal-eaters (with extras for vigilant pets). Chicken liver is economical, but tastes rich. Adding bacon to anything makes it better, but the combination of liver, bacon, and onions is heavenly. Any extra liver and onion can be whizzed in the blender with a little liquid (chicken stock or sherry) to make chopped liver mousse. If you don’t own a nutmeg grater–one of my favorite kitchen tools–you can use the smallest holes on a box grater. Pre-ground nutmeg–like pepper–bears no resemblance to the freshly ground stuff. 

Pan-fried chicken livers with bacon and onions
4 strips thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch lardons
1 red onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 cup flour
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 lb. chicken livers, rinsed and patted dry, veins removed
2 tbsp. butter
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan with tongs or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Add the onion to the rendered bacon fat and lower heat to medium. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are lightly caramelized. Remove from the pan with tongs or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, 1 tsp. salt, a few grinds of pepper, paprika, and nutmeg. Dredge the liver in the flour mixture and shake off the excess.  

If there is not enough bacon fat in the pan to cover the bottom, add some of the butter and heat till it begins to foam. In batches, add chicken livers to the pan, and cook, turning once, till browned, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, and repeat until all livers are cooked. Strew the livers with the onions and bacon pieces.


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