After a semi-traumatic (see also: dramatic) experience with innards from a chicken I bought at the Farmer’s Market last summer, I was relieved when we were told that we could have everything removed from our fifty birds at the place we took them late last fall to get butchered.
Adam grew up with a great friend, Andy, who still lives just down the street. Andy is over often and when he heard we were going to have the butcher just pitch the innards, he spoke up and told us that we had to save the livers.
He explained that his family, who hails from eastern Tennessee, loves fried chicken livers. We had to keep them and the next time they were in town they would cook them for us.
So, we had the butcher bag up all the livers and we froze them until early last week when Andy’s grandparents and aunt came to town.
At lunch, the day of our fried chicken liver dinner, Adam’s mom asked me if I had ever had liver in tone that made me wonder what I was getting into. Truth of the matter was no. But, I convinced myself that if it’s fried, it’s probably not going to be too bad.
I am also not a picky eater and will try almost anything, but it still didn’t stop me from Googling “Fried Chicken Livers” in the afternoon just to see what to expect.
Within the first five posts there were recipes from Saveur and Food and Wine. Turns out fried chicken livers are a southern classic and even the snazziest southern inspired restaurants were serving them. The sites even listed beers and wines that pair well with the fried livers.
That evening, Adam and I headed over to Andy’s where we found his grandmother and dad cooking up a storm. The stove top was full of cast iron where livers were frying as well as potatoes and cornbread patties.
Andy and his grandmother both commended us on how great the livers from our birds looked and that they were a great size. They had soaked them in salt water and then milk, much like I do with duck, to help dull the game-y flavor.
The liver’s were dredged through flour with a bit of spices and then placed in a skillet of oil and melted butter.
Andy’s grandmother told me to try one that she had pulled out of the skillet a few minutes earlier that were sitting on a plate lined with a paper towel.
I understood why they had soaked the livers in milk; they had a very similar taste and texture to venison or duck. Andy said the gaminess is likely because they contain so much iron.
Chicken liver is a great source of iron and zinc, but contains quite a bit of cholesterol so they are not something that you would want to eat all the time. (Don’t worry, Doc. I balanced this meal out with a glass of red wine.)
The spread that evening was great. In addition to the livers, there was homemade cole slaw, deviled eggs, fried potatoes, corn bread, and a killer peanut butter pie.
Adam and I so appreciated the experience because it was something we would have never done ourselves. But, we will now. What I really loved was getting a taste of an authentic southern meal and seeing another family’s traditions come to life.
Yesterday, I saw liver’s at the Farmer’s Market. Give them a try! There are tons of recipes out there and when I try them at home I think I will use this recipe from Food and Wine. The author says the soy sauce will balance the gamey taste if that’s not something your into.