Chopped Liver

Mitchell Davis

James Beard Foundation, NYC


  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken livers
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons chicken schmaltz
  • 3 medium yellow onions (about 1 pound), 1 peeled but left whole with the root end intact, the rest finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish
  • 2 large hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • Dark bread or crackers, to serve
  • Grainy mustard, to serve


Begin by cleaning the livers. Rinse each under cold running water. With a sharp paring knife, separate the two lobes. Cut away any visible fat, membrane, or green patches on the livers. Place in a strainer to drain.

Meanwhile, heat the schmaltz in a large, 10- or 12-inch heavy frying pan. Add the chopped onions and sauté, over medium-high heat, until soft and translucent, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the cleaned, drained livers and sauté until cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the salt and black pepper. Allow any liquid that the livers release to evaporate as they cook. Remove from the heat and let cool.

If using a wooden chopping bowl, transfer the cooked livers and onions to it. Add the mustard and horseradish. Using a metal chopping blade, chop the cooked livers into a small dice. Some of the livers will break up to mush, others will hold their shape. The goal is to obtain a spreadable combination of small pieces and paste. If not using a chopping bowl, chop each liver by hand on a cutting board using a very sharp knife, and transfer to a mixing bowl.

Add the chopped eggs, mix well, and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Adding more schmaltz will smooth out the flavor of the liver and the texture. Use your judgement. The chopped liver can be made up to two days in advance and refrigerated at this point.

On the day of serving, remove the liver from the refrigerator. Using a handheld box grater, grate the remaining onion into the liver, holding onto the root end for leverage. Mix well, taste, and adjust the seasoning, which will have changed after sitting and chilling.

Serve with dark bread or crackers and some grainy mustard on the side.


3 cups