Recipe: Fried Chicken Livers with New Mexico Chilies

Fried chicken livers.  The words, when rolled off the tongue, evoke images of farm life and of down-home country food. The clean, spicy intensity of New Mexico, or Anaheim, peppers provides the perfect foil for the salty, crunchy chicken livers with their rich, mineral-like flavor.  Growing up, my family would drive from Colorado through the extended monotony of the Kansas countryside until we reached my grandmother’s home in Oklahoma where we’d spend our summers.  A treat during these hot, humid Oklahoma summers would be a visit to Rex’s for fried chicken seasoned with jalapeños and served alongside Indian fried bread.  While this version varies considerably from the fastfood found at Rex’s, the essence of the dish remains the same.

While liver, like many organ meats, is often avoided either out of fear of “toxins” or a general wish to avoid anything but muscle meat, it shouldn’t be.  Liver is deeply nutritive and a strikingly rich source of vitamins and minerals making it a nutritional powerhouse of sorts. Just a single ounce of pan-fried chicken livers contains 81% of the recommended daily value for vitamin A and 99% of your body’s daily requirement for vitamin B12; moreover, its rich in riboflavin, folate and the minerals iron and selenium1. It is, perhaps, for this reason that traditional peoples prized thriving on unprocessed foods native to their region prior to the advent of industrialized agriculture prized liver and other offal to such a great degree.  It is a sacred food, powerfully nutritive and deeply nourishing.  The key, as with all animal foods, is to ensure that the liver you feed your family comes from healthy chickens – those that have been raised on pasture with access to their natural diet which includes sprouts, grubs, kitchen scraps and a wide variety of foods.  Healthy animals produce healthy foods.

You’ll find that, in addition to liver, this recipe makes use of whole grain, sprouted flour as well as freshly rendered pasture-raised lard.  Whole grain, though valuable, is also problematic.  You see, it contains phytic acid – an antinutrient that binds up valuable minerals, preventing your body from fully absorbing them.  There are three methods that effectively mitigate the effects of phytic acid: souring, soaking and sprouting.  Since both souring and soaking take several hours and sometimes full days, using sprouted grain flour eliminates the issues posed by regular whole grain flour.

Just a single ounce of pan-fried chicken livers contains 81% of the recommended daily value for vitamin A and 99% of your body’s daily requirement for vitamin B12; moreover, its rich in riboflavin, folate and the minerals iron and selenium

We also make use of freshly rendered lard from pasture-raised hogs – a fat that, despite its bad reputation, offers greater benefit than you might initially think.  Indeed, the most prominent fatty acid in lard is monounsaturated fat – the very same nutritive, healthy fat found in olive oil and avocado.  Indeed, monounsaturated fat comprises about 45% of the fat found in lard1.  Some evidence indicates that the consumption of monounsaturated fats may have the ability to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol while simultaneously raising HDL (good) cholesterol2. Furthermore, pasture-raised lard is one of the richest food sources of natural vitamin D – a nutrient that of which most US children3 and a great number of adults4 show an insufficiency or even deficiency.

So while this dish may contain both liver and lard, know that with each savory and spiced bite you take, you’ll consume a powerfully rich combination of wholesome nutrients that play an important role in health: B vitamins, vitamin D and myriad minerals.

fried chicken livers with new mexico chilies

By Jenny Published: March 24, 2010

  • Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
  • Prep: 20 to 30 mins

Savory and pleasantly spiced by bright green chili peppers, these fried chicken livers are best served alongside a gravy made from mineral-rich chicken stock. My son, just four, can eat an entire plate by himself. I served these once, as snack, and he begged his friends to try them – telling them, “You have to eat the whole chicken: livers, feet and all.” It is good for you, so enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 1 quart fresh milk
  • 1 pound pasture-raised chicken livers (trimmed and rinse of any sinew)
  • lard or tallow (for frying)
  • 1 cup whole grain flour (preferably sprouted)
  • 1 1 New Mexico Chili pepper (seeded and minced)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • dash unrefined sea salt

Instructions

  1. Pour one quart fresh milk over one pound trimmed chicken livers.
  2. Move the chicken livers and fresh milk to the refrigerator and soak them for eight to twelve hours.
  3. After soaking livers in milk for at least eight hours, drain and rinse them.
  4. Chop them into bite-sized pieces as necessary and set aside.
  5. Heat lard or tallow in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  6. Stir flour, chili pepper, garlic and unrefined sea salt together in a bowl.
  7. Dredge chicken livers in the flour mixture.
  8. Gently fry the floured chicken livers in the hot fat until brown and cooked-through, about six or seven minutes. Turn as neccessary.
  9. Serve hot.

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What people are saying

  1. says

    You’ll be pleased to know that this post has me seriously rethinking chicken livers. I’m not a picky eater, but the last time I ate chicken livers was probably in high school (my mom made curried chicken giblets/livers for dinner every now and again). Not exactly my favorite meal… or at least nothing that would inspire a craving. Now, livers with chiles… that’s another story entirely.

  2. Michelle says

    Hi Jenny,
    This reminds me of the foods we always ate with my relatives in Texas! I wish we had a source for this nearby. Some day, I’m sure we will!

    I also thought you might find this article on “ending the war on fat” interesting…not that you and your readers aren’t already aware of most of this information, but I think it’s a positive sign that it’s starting to get more and more press! http://www.slate.com/id/2248754/?from=rss

  3. says

    oooh, i have some chicken livers in a freezer that is need of defrosting, and was in need of a bit of inspiration. This looks brilliant!

    Sonja

  4. says

    Have you ever done this type of recipe with goat or lamb liver? Looking for something to do for the kids (finger food!) and I have access to those livers.

    Thanks!!

    • Lauren says

      @Veronica: see Cheeseslave for that one – similar to this, but with bacon. I’ve done both and they were both yum. My 2yo likes veal liver better, I’m for chicken.

  5. Sally says

    I made this tonight with beef liver, and it was tasty. My husband couldn’t get enough of it. I just chopped up the liver into bite-sized pieces. Thanks for your great recipes!

  6. Cathy says

    Jenny, you have a marvelous blog, packed full of information! When I was growing up in Fresno, CA, we had many local markets with full meat markets and butchers hard at work. My mother bought processed lard right out of the meat case — the butcher personally wrapped it up, no prepackaging back then. Chicken livers were always available and quite popular as were chicken hearts and giblets. Giblet gravy was a must have with our fried chicken dinners. Cooking with lard is a far tastier experience than most people these days realize. Thanks for writing such a terrific blog!

  7. Cecilia Long says

    Child was not impressed. I tried to improve it by adding coconut milk. Made it so I could at least eat it. Still not a fan at all of liver….wish I was.

  8. Pattie says

    So, I have been trying forever to like liver. I just haven’t been able to find a recipe I could stomach. I am 36 weeks pregnant and have such a hard time getting liver down. However, this recipe made it so that I could eat it & enjoy it! I won’t say it is my new favorite food, but the fact that I can eat it not only without gagging but also enjoy it is a testament to this recipe! Thank you SO much!!

  9. Jane says

    What is the purpose of soaking the liver in milk? I’m highly allergic to dairy. Is there something else I can soak the liver in? Does it ned to be soaked?

  10. Erika says

    I bought powdered new Mexico chili because I couldn’t find any whole, but just noticed the article mentions chili would be green. What can I do? Stumped.

  11. Hope S. says

    The gravy was a great addition! I was actually able to eat liver. And, my boys ate their “chicken nuggets” like champs. I will definitely make this again.

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