What’s Inside Your Chicken?
In general, I prefer buying whole chickens over chicken parts. Per pound, they are less expensive than their choice part alternatives (i.e. chicken breasts), which can be useful in offsetting the cost of organic free-range birds. Separating a chicken yourself can save added convenience fees that a vendor might charge, and cooking it whole (read: in “bulk”) might leave leftovers for another day. To really get the most out of a bird though, think offal and stock.
Most whole chickens come with a package of offal inside the body cavity. This package, often referred to as “giblets”, contains the chicken neck, heart, gizzard, kidneys, and liver. Most people throw this package away, not knowing what else to do with it. However, it’s a gold mind of vitamin-rich protein that comes virtually for free. With a little TLC, it could become a lovely meal or two.
I often save the giblets, as well other random parts (skin, wing tips, backs), until I have enough to make a meal. Since I had already accumulated several freezer bags full, I figured it was about time to make chicken stock (future post), chicken liver, and chicken chicharones.
I had planned to make the classic liver and onions, but since my husband forgot to bring home onions from the store, I had to improvise. A good friend of mine had just gifted me a ton of freshly picked apricots from her family farm, Saeed Farms, in Yuba City. I figured they would pair well with the liver. Since liver can be bitter, a bit of sweetness would help to offset this.
I prepared the liver simply, seasoning it with salt and pepper, giving it a light dredge in flour, and a quick sauté in butter and grape seed oil. The apricots were sautéed in a little butter for just a few minutes until “melted”. If they are left on the heat too long, they will break down too much, leaving you with apricot sauce instead. I rounded out the meal with some steamed broccoli and a side salad.
To use up some chicken parts, I also decided to make chicken chicharones (crackling). I threw some chicken skin in a skillet and let it render its fat on low heat until the skin was crisp, then threw some sea salt on it to finish.
Now, I will admit, I’m not the biggest fan of liver, but this meal was really tasty! The textures were fun as the creaminess of the liver melded into the soft apricots, contrasting the crunchiness of the chicharones. And the flavors were spot on too; the bitterness of the liver played off of the sweetness of the apricots, and the saltiness of the chicharones.
Pretty good for an offal meal!
Chicken Liver with “Melted” Apricots
- 1 lb chicken livers
- ½ cup of flour
- 1 Tbs butter
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 6 fresh apricots, seeded and halved
- 2 tsp butter
Rinse the chicken livers, trim off excess fat, and cut into bite size pieces. Pat the pieces with paper towel to remove excess moisture. Season with salt and pepper. Melt the butter on medium heat, add the oil, and heat until just shimmering. (The butter will add flavor to the dish, and the oil will increase the smoking point so the butter doesn’t burn as easily.) Dredge (lightly coat) the liver in flour, shaking off the excess, and sauté in butter and oil mixture for 2 minutes per side, until slightly pink in the center. Cooking too long will make the liver chalky in texture.
Melt the 2 teaspoons of butter on med-low heat. When the foam from the butter subsides, saute the apricots cut side down for 2 minutes. Flip to warm the other side, but do not leave on for too long as the fruit will break down.
Serve, eat, and enjoy!
– Christine R.