Quest for the Fried Chicken Liver of My Childhood

Before I started this blog, I didn’t feel that I was all that Southern.  I was born and raised in the South.  I knew what chocolate gravy was (and I could make), but I didn’t talk particularly Southern and I didn’t identify with most Southern stereotypes.  However, over the past year, I have found that I am distinctly Southern especially in my food cravings.

This past weekend, I was craving fried chicken livers.  However, Kroger seemed to have removed all of the chicken livers for frozen turkeys.  Just because Thanksgiving was next week did not mean that these little gems should be removed from the meat section. Luckily, I was able to find some after looking around (and three trips to the grocery store).

My own delicious version

Fried chicken livers are a Southern staple.  When I was little, almost every restaurant (non-chain restaurant) had fried chicken livers on the menu. There was a fried chicken place near the gas station on the way to my grandparent’s house that would sell fried chicken livers by the pound.  I even knew a few places that would spice up the livers with garlic and cayenne pepper. 

Livers taste different from gizzards.  To me, the gizzard tastes like you are eating sand; it’s a very coarse texture.  Livers are smoother.  It’s like biting into the tenderest piece of meat that you have ever eaten.  The flavor of the liver is so strong that after a few bites, you feel like you have eaten enough to last more than a few hours.

Since I’ve lived away from home, I have had to figure out how to cook this dish myself. It’s hard to find a restaurant that serves them or cooks them properly.  Plus, not just any liver will do – – You should never use livers that are yellowish in color; livers for cooking should only be bright red.  Yellowish livers are sub-par and I don’t even waste the effort on sub-par livers (the flavor isn’t there in livers this color and results in disappointing dishes).

There are a few ways to cook livers – battered and deep-fried, battered and sautéed, and sautéed.  Deep-frying livers is a talent; you need very hot oil and can’t leave the livers in the oil too long (oil-logged livers are not tasty treats).  I lost my gallbladder a few years so deep-frying is always off the table, but I have figured out a good way to make them which tastes almost as good as the deep-fried livers from my childhood. My recipe has been a lot of trial and error with improvements from my mother and the internet.   I never use specific measurements when I cook these but this is the closest to what I do.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of chicken livers (only use the bright red ones) (do not diced or cut)
  • Flour
  • 1 large egg
  • Milk (1/4 to 1/2 cup)
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Apron

Directions

  1. Rinse the livers off.  Any dark blood should be rinsed off before any other preparations are done.
  2. In a small bowl, mix 1 egg and milk together well.  I always grind some pepper into the mix.  In another small bowl, pour about 1/2 cup of flour and grind some pepper into the flour.  Add the livers to the egg mixture to coat.
  3. Pour about 3-5 tablespoons of olive oil into a skillet (I always approximate the oil and add more if it cooks off).  When the skillet and oil are hot, remove a couple of livers from the egg mixture and add to the flour.  Coat the livers well and shake any excess flour off.  Place the livers into the skillet.
  4. Livers pop when they are cooking so always wear an apron and do not stand over the livers while they are cooking. 
  5. Cook the livers on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes per side or until they are golden brown. Cooked liver has a gray-brown color to it (grayer than cooked hamburger).
  6. Place on a paper towel lined plate to cool.
  7. Serve with ketchup.

The recipe can be made omitting the batter and simply sauteing them.  It works wonders for a dinner in a hurry.

Enjoy!!

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