Video: How To Make the Ultimate Chopped Liver.
Chopped liver has come to mean second best ("What am I, chopped liver?"). But this appetizer doesn't have to be second best. As a rabbi once told me, gehabte leber is perhaps the only uniquely Jewish dish.
Chopped liver originated in Alsace Lorraine, known in the 11th century as Ashkenaz. There, for the first time, Jews migrating north from the warmer climates of the olive oil-rich Mediterranean learned to use schmaltzrendered fat from the geese in that part of France. For the Sabbath, they wanted to eat a delicacy made from liver, an organ of the chicken known since ancient times to have so much blood in it that it was thought to contain the soul of man. Before observant Jews could eat liver the blood had to be removed, because blood means life, so they put tiny slits in the meat and broiled it to remove the blood before serving. Rendered fat (in this case, chicken fat) lubricated the liver, onions (cooked or raw) sweetened it, and hard-boiled eggs lightened the dish. While French Jews often turned their chopped liver into a kind of pAcentste (see my book Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France), Jews who migrated to Eastern Europe enjoyed it in its original chopped form, and that's what they brought to America when they immigrated.
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