November 17, 2018

Recipe: Chopped liver with wine aspic

Jewish cuisine has always gotten a bad rap, and very often I hear the expression that “heavy Jewish food” is not healthy, but we have been cooking nutritious Jewish food for our family for as long as I can remember.

Students in my cooking class always ask me for a healthy recipe for chicken soup that tastes really flavorful. My answer is: the more chicken, the more chicken flavor. Then add lots and lots of veggies and my light, soufflé-like matzah balls.

Chopped liver can be another rich dish because many people overload with lots of chicken fat (schmaltz). We use olive oil and combine the chicken livers with onions, apples and mushrooms to give it a wonderful flavor. 

As a child, I used to watch my mother, sitting on the back porch steps, chopping away at beef liver, hard-cooked eggs and chicken schmaltz in a huge wooden bowl. It was really hard work. Now I can whip up a batch of chopped liver from scratch — enough to serve 20 — in less time.

I have preserved the integrity of Mom’s recipe, but enhanced it by using chicken livers and a little brandy for flavor. Use a meat grinder to get the old-fashioned coarse texture, but you can also make it in a food processor, resulting in a finer texture. Top with Concord Grape Wine Aspic to add a gala touch.


  • Concord Grape Wine Aspic (recipe follows)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound chicken livers
  • 4 large mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons brandy or cognac
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


In a large, heavy skillet, heat olive oil and sauté onions until lightly browned. Add the livers, mushrooms and apple. Sauté, turning the livers on both sides, until lightly browned. (Do not overcook.) Add the brandy and simmer 3 to 4 minutes. 

Spoon the mixture into a meat grinder with the eggs and grind into a large bowl, making sure to add the juices from the skillet. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir well.

Cover and refrigerate, or line a mold with plastic wrap, spoon in the liver mixture, cover and refrigerate.

The plastic wrap enables you to invert and lift the molded chopped liver out of the bowl, and then it is peeled off.

Top with the Concord Grape Wine Aspic.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups kosher Concord grape wine
  • 1/4 cup wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 ounces frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1 teaspoon (1 package) gelatin


In a small, heavy saucepan over moderate to high heat, simmer the sugar in the water, stirring until the sugar dissolves; continue simmering rapidly until the sugar reaches a caramel color.

In another small saucepan, heat 1 1/4 cups of the wine, the vinegar and the orange juice concentrate. Add the wine mixture to the sugar mixture and stir well. Simmer for 5 minutes. 

Soften the gelatin in the remaining 1/4 cup wine.

Add to the hot mixture and stir until dissolved. Pour into an 8-by-8-inch baking dish and chill until set, about 2 hours.

Serve with the Molded Chopped Liver.

Makes about 2 1/2 to 3 cups.