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!!

Southern as Chocolate Gravy

While I was born and raised in the South, I only have a few mannerisms that scream Southern.  My family recipe for chocolate gravy is definitely one of them.

Bowl of Chocolate Gravy

When I was little, my maternal grandmother would make this dish for the family whenever it started to get chilly outside or just for me whenever I was sick.  She told me that she got the recipe from her mother, Rosella (or Rose Zella), and that when her father remarried after her mother’s death, she had to teach her step-mother how to make it.  My great-grandfather ate chocolate gravy every morning for breakfast in a big bowl with butter or poured over his buttermilk biscuits.

When I moved away for law school, I made my grandmother write down the recipe so that I could make it when I was homesick.  Everyone would make faces at me whenever I ate it wrapped up in a blanket on cold, snowy Fayetteville days.

Recently, I talked Z into trying it.  He was the first guy that I have dated that actually saw the tastiness of chocolate gravy [while he maintains that it should only be eaten over pancakes or biscuits].

Mmmmmmm

Chocolate Gravy

Ingredients for One Serving

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Hershey’s cocoa
  • 3 tablespoons flour

Mix the dry ingredients very well.  Press out any lumps of flour or cocoa. [My grandma demanded that you sift the ingredients for the best results.] Boil water until you have a rolling boil.  Slowly pour in the dry ingredients and stir until thick.

Enjoy over biscuits or in a large bowl with a teaspoon (or tablespoon if you are feeling decadent) of butter.

Christmas Card Rules

I’ve been having a hard time this year picking out a Christmas card.  Last year, I handmade cards with a gold glitter embossed greeting, but I wasn’t sending out cards on behalf of myself and Zach. 

Shiya did not like the activity of making Christmas cards last year.

Living together means that I must take into account his preference and his option.  This means that I’m rushing to find the right card.  Right now, it’s a toss-up between a photo card of us (I like) or a photo card of the beach (Z likes).  All opinions/suggestions will be appreciated.

Why am I rushing to be pick out Christmas cards with 2 months until Christmas? 

Contrary to popular belief, there are rules to sending out Christmas cards (see KerriJack’s post) and these rules must be followed.  My set of Christmas card rules are very similar to hers:

1. Cards must not be sent out before 12:00 am on December 1.  Any card sent before that date is a “I’m-Better-Than-You” card and the sender forfeits all rights to a timely holiday card (and bragging rights).

2.  Cards must be finalized before Halloween or at latest  a week before Thanksgiving.  Bonus bragging points are awarded for those who finalize the cards in the summer.

3.   Bragging rights are the all-powerful currency in a Southern holiday gathering.  Like Pokemon, you must catch them all. The quicker people receive your card, the higher the bragging rights.  The more personalized (handwritten or handmade), the higher the bragging rights. The funnier the card, the higher the bragging rights.  Etc.

4.  It does not matter what greeting is on the card.  However, as a personal preference, I like to put Happy Holidays on my cards to not offend anyone.

5.  Names must be on the cards!  It is preferred to have both first and last names if there has been a marriage, divorce, birth, or any change in living arrangements (this includes pets).

6.  Return addresses must accompany the card.  You would think that this would be an unspoken understanding … but no, I’ve received cards without return addresses and had to make long phone calls to my mother in order to determine the correct return address.

7.  No handwritten or handmade component means that the sender forfeits all bragging rights.  No personal holiday card was sent out and therefore, no personal bragging rights have been awarded. Bragging points are subtracted if the address is printed on the envelope AND there is no handwritten component.

8.  Pictures of pets are allowed on and in Christmas cards.  Pets are furry children and just as important as actual children.  However, please see Rule #5.

9.  Anyone who sends cards on or after December 25 has already lost their card bragging rights.  Display the card as if it was the first card received and do not mention the violation to the sender.

10. Finally, (borrowing from Kerri Jack) there is no mocking the maker and enforcer of the rules as they exist in her mind.