May it Please the Palate

 I got away with it

I did it, right under their noses. And they didn’t suspect a thing.

One of the alleged rules of my household is that I’m not allowed to cook liver. Not like it’s a persistent itch: maybe once in a blue moon I have a hankering. But according to the vegetarian and vegan who reside with me, the very concept is intolerable – not to mention the enticing aroma. 

But here I was, looking for something for dinner last night, and I found a package in the freezer labeled “chicken.” Which was slightly incorrect, in the way one might say, “It wasn’t a rock, it was a rock lobster!” Because this chicken was actually chicken liver.

To be more precise, it was the liver, neck, and gizzard of a fresh, locally farm raised chicken I had recently purchased, from Salomon Gardens in Chelsea. Normally when I buy a whole chicken, I end up tossing this stuff or try feeding it to the cat. But Salomon’s chicken was so fresh and delicious that I decided to eat these innards myself.

I put the frozen parts on the baking sheet with a sliced potato, onion, and mushrooms and tossed it all with olive oil, salt, and pepper. As I was popping it into the 350° oven, my vegan daughter nosed around and asked, “What are you making?” “Meat,” I quickly replied, and closed the oven door. As my dinner baked, my daughter concentrated on her computer science project, just inches from the oven vent, oblivious. 

Every now and then I opened the oven to poke and prod. Spouse came in and out of the kitchen, daughter continued to work. No one was the wiser.

It was time to eat. I drizzled some diced tomato and green chiles over the liver; but just to be safe, also had some of that old standby, ketchup. (Some may claim ketchup and French fries are made for each other, but I’m here to tell you that ketchup and liver are true soulmates.) Dinner was truly satisfying and delicious. And with all that iron, vitamins and minerals, it was good for me as well.

I waited until I had finished. I washed my dishes and proudly proclaimed, “I just ate liver, right under your noses.” “Nooooooo!” they wailed, in unison. Disbelieving, they interrogated me. Smugly I confirmed what they feared.

While flush with triumph, I wouldn’t recommend this course of action too often in the spirit of family harmony. But I did find a sweet looking Southern fried chicken liver recipe for the next time.

Chicken Fried Chicken Livers

- James Holmes, chef at Lucy’s Fried Chicken in Austin


 3 1/2 cups buttermilk  

 1/3 cup Louisiana-style hot sauce, such as Crystal  

 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce  

 1 pound chicken livers, trimmed  

 1/2 cup mayonnaise  

 1 small chipotle in adobo, seeded and minced, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce  

 3 cups all-purpose flour  

 3 large eggs  

 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper  

 2 teaspoons ground black pepper  

 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin  

 1 teaspoon garlic salt  

 Canola oil, for frying  

 Kosher salt  

1.  In a large bowl, whisk 2 cups of the buttermilk with the hot sauce and soy sauce. Add the chicken livers and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.  

2.  In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, chipotle and adobo sauce; refrigerate.  

3.  Set a rack over a baking sheet. Spread 1 1/2 cups of the flour in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, beat the eggs with the remaining 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk. In a third shallow bowl, mix the remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour, the cayenne, black pepper, cumin and garlic salt.  

4.  Remove the livers from the buttermilk, then dredge them in the plain flour. Dip the livers in the egg mixture, then dredge in the seasoned flour. Transfer to the rack. 

5.  In a large saucepan, heat 2 inches of oil to 350°. Set another rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Add half of the livers to the hot oil and fry over moderately high heat, turning once, until barely pink inside, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the clean rack and season lightly with salt. Repeat with the remaining livers. Serve hot, with the chipotle mayonnaise (or hot sauce, or combination ketchup/hot sauce).

Looks good. Might be harder to get away making this one at home, though.

Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard, and Walker PC, a firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment and civil right litigation. He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for “Current” magazine in Ann Arbor. He occasionally updates his blog at