Serious Eats: Recipes

The Nasty Bits: Chicken Liver Omelet

[Photographs: Chichi Wang]

Eaters who revel in other types of offal simply don't like liver. Liver prejudices abound for good reason: The much-maligned organ, apropos to its digestive-related functions, tastes only as good as the animal from which it comes. Foul-tasting liver takes many forms. As bad diner fare, a platter of crusty calf's liver turns so tough and spongy that a steak knife barely penetrates. Rightly so, we shudder at the thought of poorly prepared chopped liver, metallic in taste, specked throughout with rubbery hard-boiled eggs.

The best way to get over an aversion to liver is to seek out the freshest, cleanest source of liver you can afford. The most accessible is that of chickens, which, when properly raised, possess sweet-smelling, tender livers so rich and flavorful that you could comfortably live without the indulgence of foie gras. Like seafood, check to see if your chicken livers are at their best by putting your nose to the test: The livers should smell sweet, almost floral, with just the faintest hint of the iron-rich flavors of the organ. After the jump, a recipe for chicken liver omelets.

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Chicken livers taste indulgent. Fatty and creamy, the little organs take well to a stir-fry with sliced onions and purée beautifully for a mousse or pâté. When the livers are impeccably fresh, they're delicious quickly seared on a cast iron, sprinkled with a bit of salt and pepper. My favorite preparation of liver remains the liver omelet—golden brown on the outside, tender inside with seared liver and sautéed chanterelles, all bound with truffle oil, sherry, and fine European butter.

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As an impecunious student turned writer, I've cooked this omelet on many an occasion, entertaining myself if not my friends with extremely embarrassing impressions of Julia Child shaking an omelet pan back and forth. The dish is a fine illustration of affordable indulgence, for even though the omelet employs expensive mushrooms, oil, butter, and liquor, it does so in modest quantities. Even without the chanterelles, the sweet richness of the liver encased in soft, truffle-flavored eggs is wholly satisfying. Served with a baguette and a simple green salad, the omelet is just as suited for a lonely night in as it is for dinner party.

Over the years I've made this omelet in many kitchens, using whatever is on hand at the moment. If I'm at home, I'll slip in a nub of fat from my duck confit or chop up a few confited gizzards to keep the livers company. In friends' houses, I've substituted red wine for sherry, button mushrooms for chanterelles, and regular butter for the European goods. The one detail that I never compromise on is the quality of the liver (and whenever possible, that of the eggs). Truffle oil is also a must; happily, a vial of the stuff is easily transportable, even in airports so long as it comes in a travel-size bottle.

A good liver omelet is an exercise, as I can count, in at least four fundamental skills in French cookery: on sautéing mushrooms, deglazing the pan after browning, reducing the pan juices with alcohol, and of course, on properly cooking eggs. If, upon serving ,you manage to achieve all four, reward yourself with an additional, liberal sprinkling of truffle oil on top.

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Chicken Liver Omelet with Truffle Oil

About the author: Chichi Wang took her degree in philosophy, but decided that writing about food would be much more fun than writing about Plato. She firmly believes in all things offal, the importance of reading great books, and the necessity of three-hour meals. If she were ever to get a tattoo, it would say "Fat is flavor." Visit her blog, My Chalkboard Fridge.

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