I’m feeling overwhelmed. It’s been almost a month since my last post, which is, frankly, unacceptable. I’ve done approximately no writing and no recipe sharing in the past 27 days, and I’m not happy about it. I mean, even if no one actually reads these little posts, it makes me happy to have them here, dotting the internets with pictures of risotto and tales of apple tart.
At any rate, I have almost a month’s worth of news to share, so you may want to settle in.
Firstly – and this is kind of a big one – I, uh… I graduated from the culinary program at FCI last week.
…YAY official chefdom! You’re looking at a real, live chef here, people. It’s true! Okay, so you’re not really looking at me, but trust me, I’m a chef. At least, I have a ridiculously tall hat and a laminated diploma that confirms it. …Laminated, you guys.
Yep, after a month spent in the level six kitchens, churning out stuffed calamari and venison and clam consommé, and then after a day spent completely freaking out/taking the final exam (during which I had to make clam consommé and pear tartlettes, among other things), the powers that be (ahem, the folks down at the French Culinary Institute) declared me worthy of chefness. Yes!
Soooo yeah, I’m kind of excited about that. I’m also kind of sad that it’s over. I mean, it’s not really over – I have another six whole months in the pastry program (a regular chef I may be, but a pastry chef I am not. Yet.), but it’s not the same.
Which brings me to news item number two: yesterday was my first day in the pastry program. So far things are going well – I successfully managed to make a bunch of tarts (banana cream tart, pear & almond tart, fresh fruit tart, yadda yadda yadda tart), but, as I mentioned, it’s not the same. I miss my old classmates. I miss Nadine and Steve and Rodney and Tina and Big Rob and Dave and everyone. Sigh. At least I know I can find consolation in pastry cream.
Next is news item number three, which isn’t really a news item so much as a major national holiday. Yeah that’s right, I am talking about Thanksgiving. Thaaaanksgiviiiiiiing! Ahem, yes. It was on Thursday. I know Thursday was six days ago and you’re probably tired of talking about giving thanks and family and mashed potatoes, but it’s my very favorite holiday (by a landslide. A huge one.) and I’d like to discuss it further. Besides, what kind of food blogger would I be if I wrote nary a word about the most gluttonous holiday of them all?
So yes, Thanksgiving. Mine involved a raucous game of football,
a video camera, a pan of stuffing that was accidentally dropped on the sidewalk, a delicious batch of macaroni and cheese (to replace said stuffing), a turkey carve-off, a rogue batch of whipped cream, and, of course, a lot of Gramma’s chopped chicken liver. All in all, another wonderful Thanksgiving, filled with much to be thankful for, including:
- my family
- electric mixers
- tall chefs hats
- old classmates
- new classmates
- chicken liver
Gramma Inez’s Chopped Chicken Liver
Remember that time I wrote about offal, and how darn awful it is? Well, this one doesn’t count. This is my Gramma Inez’s Chopped Chicken Liver, a staple at every Thanksgiving since the beginning of time, and a shining beacon in the world of organ meats.
If you’re feeling a little wary of a recipe that involves chicken fat, chopped livers and hard boiled eggs, it’s okay. I’ll admit, it’s not my normal, everyday fare, but, smeared on a crispy cracker, with a glass of wine in hand and my family chattering around me, this stuff is downright delicious. Creamy and salty, with a nice crunch from the cracker… happiness in an appetizer. Still feeling skeptical? Fine, I won’t make you try it. …More for me. Thanks, Gramma!
- 2-3 Tbsp chicken fat (schmaltz)
- 2 lbs chicken livers, rinsed and dried with paper towels
- 2 large yellow onions, chopped
- 1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 10-12 eggs, hard boiled
- salt and pepper, to taste
- paprika, to finish
In a large skillet, melt the chicken fat. Add the two large onions and cook over medium low heat, until onions are soft and translucent. Add the chicken livers, and cook over medium heat until the livers are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.
Once the liver mixture is done, transfer it from the pan to a large mixing bowl. Using two table knives, chop the chicken liver mixture into pea-sized pieces. Add the hard boiled eggs and continue chopping, until the mixture is thoroughly diced. You can use a food processor to chop and mix all of the ingredients, but you’re looking for a grainy, chopped texture, so be careful not to completely purée your livers. Mix in the remaining 1/2 onion (uncooked), and more salt and pepper, to taste.
Grease a bowl or round jello mold with more chicken fat. Pack in the chopped liver, and chill in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can just skip the molding part and pile the chopped chicken liver onto a platter. If you go with the mold method, unmold the liver by running a sharp paring knife around the edges of the mold and turning it out onto a large platter. If the mixture sticks to the mold, don’t worry, it’s easy to patch up. And in all honesty, it’s hard to get chicken liver looking that pretty, anyway, so don’t worry about any unmolding mishaps. Just dust the unmolded chicken liver with a bit of paprika, surround with table crackers, and serve to a room full of hungry Jews (…or non-Jews who are into things like chopped chicken liver. I mean, it’s possible… right?)
Serves about 20, as an appetizer.