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Does soaking liver in milk prior to cooking really help with the flavor?

I am planning on attempting my grandmother's jewish chopped liver and have been reading that soaking in milk helps remove impurities and lessen some of the harshness in flavor. This seems to apply mainly to beef liver and I am using chicken - but I would love some insight!

asked by Daniel Decline almost 2 years ago
24 answers 22745 views
Me
Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

added almost 2 years ago

I've read far and wide that yes, it helps to remove any bitterness from the taste of the liver, but I don't have much experience with it -- I bet someone in our community does!

Monita_photo
Monita

Monita is a Recipe Tester for Food52

added almost 2 years ago

Never heard of doing that with chicken livers.

Zora_margolis
added almost 2 years ago

I always soak pork, beef or calves liver in milk, but only do it with chicken livers if they have a strong smell. As long as you aren't keeping kosher... Like they say about chicken soup: it might not help, but it couldn't hurt.

Zester_003
pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added almost 2 years ago

I'm not a rabbi nor am I Jewish but I don't think chicken livers soaked in milk violates the kasruth. Beef of course definitely would. But chickens don't produce milk themselves, so...

Monita_photo
Monita

Monita is a Recipe Tester for Food52

added almost 2 years ago

Chicken livers soaked in milk definitely violates rules of kashrut

Zester_003
pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added almost 2 years ago

I'm seriously interested in Monita's answer, from the standpoint of someone who studies food history and culture. I thought the rule had do do with not eating meat cooked in its own mother's milk, so obviously veal cooked in milk or cream is out. But as cows can't beget chickens how does this one work? I'm not being a smart ass, I'm really curious about the rule because I do cook for Jewish friends frequently.

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added almost 2 years ago

Not all Jews keep Kosher. She mentioned her Jewish Grandmother - thats all and didnt specify kosher in tags or question.

Img_0736
added almost 2 years ago

Absolutely right, Monita. Even if you don't keep kosher, though, I've never heard of anyone soaking chicken livers in milk before making chopped liver. It's not necessary. I learned to make chopped liver from my grandmother, who learned from her mother.... She did add a splash of sherry when cooking the livers, though.

Monita_photo
Monita

Monita is a Recipe Tester for Food52

added almost 2 years ago

Was responding to someone else who said it was ok to soak chicken liver in milk accroding to kosher laws

Zora_margolis
added almost 2 years ago

I have definitely had chopped chicken liver that was bitter. So I would say "go for it" even though it is not traditional--because it is not kosher. Your grandmother's recipe may be good, but Michel Richard's faux gras is guaranteed to be better. He blends a pound of raw chicken livers with half a pound of butter and sauteed shallots, pours it into ramekins and bakes in a waterbath. It's unbelievably good.

Pinned
added almost 2 years ago

thank you so much for your phenomnal answers! i am most certainly a terrible jew but this might explain why milk was never mentioned on the recipe card. i am going to make this a few different times before thanksgiving and report in on the results - thank you for your replies!

Pinned
added almost 2 years ago

thank you so much for your phenomnal answers! i am most certainly a terrible jew but this might explain why milk was never mentioned on the recipe card. i am going to make this a few different times before thanksgiving and report in on the results - thank you for your replies!

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added almost 2 years ago

you dont need milk for chicken livers. use salt water. biggest things to keep them from getting too bitter though are 1. using good livers, 2.cleaning them well/trying to remove all the veins and nasty bits and 3. not over cooking them. for some reason, Im not exactly sure why chicken livers are best cooked medium. soak your livers in a brine for at least 3 hours. I usually use a 4% solution. Dry your livers thoroughly before sauteing them and cook them in batches until you see the blood starting to come out of the meat. you want them still blushing in the middle. if you're going the pate route rather than chopping them try making a reduction with port and madeira and mixing that in. you will die from awesome.

Img_0736
added almost 2 years ago

blackstrap -- don't even begin to think anything negative about yourself -- particularly because of the way you do or do not prepare chopped liver. i hope you will enjoy your chopped liver trials -- and wish you a splendid thanksgiving.

Sarah_chef
Reiney

Sarah is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added almost 2 years ago

Milk degorges the "funk" from livers (and sweatbreads, and foie gras, and any other organ meat). You will often see this as a step in making pates, terrines, etc. Whether it's a necessary step in chopped liver depends on your preference.

Zester_003
pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added almost 2 years ago

Yes, soaking sweetbreads in milk is a great technique---and I do love sweetbreads.

Pinned
added almost 2 years ago

ps - i am a he, though often called a she by close friends.

Img_0736
added almost 2 years ago

one last chopped liver thought .... chopped liver (aka gehakte leber) was not traditionally a pate -- commercial chopped liver usually is, since it's processed (if not overprocessed) by machine. my grandmother used a wooden bowl and a chopping blade. the celery and eggs were still visible when she was done, and the texture was sort of fluffy-ish. you can still use a food processor, if you're careful not to go overboard, and just pulse -- but the bowl and chopping blade are better. once again, a happy holiday to you and yours.

Monita_photo
Monita

Monita is a Recipe Tester for Food52

added almost 2 years ago

To respond to Pierino about the kashrut rules: the statement from the bible about "not to "boil a kid in its mother's milk," is interpreted to mean not to eat meat and dairy products together. This includes not only beef and veal but chicken as well. It also extends to not cooking meat and dairy together. That's why people who keep kosher jave separate dishes for meat and dairy. If you'd like to learn more about kosher laws, check out:
http://www.chabad.org/generic_cdo...

Zester_003
pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added almost 2 years ago

Monita, thanks very much for your reply. I was aware of the orthodox tradition regarding two sets of dishes but I didn't realize that it extended to poultry. I'm often confounded by how my Jewish friends approach these things; some have never eaten pork and then others are among the most serious pork aficinados I've ever met. One told me, "Well, if you are going to sin at least make it worth it." I love exploring these cultural traditions. Growning up in a Catholic family we always had the fish on Friday thing going on.

Monita_photo
Monita

Monita is a Recipe Tester for Food52

added almost 2 years ago

Always great to learn about someone's else's traditions. Thanks for sharing yours and glad I could provide insight to mine

Farmer's_market
added almost 2 years ago

Only something like 15% of Jews in America are kosher. I grew up in a pretty typical reform Jewish home, and pig in practically all its forms, as well as shellfish, cheeseburgers, etc. were all common.There was certainly no suggestion that eating anything was a 'sin' (other than maybe in a Hannibal Lechter type scenario.) Having said that, certain traditional Jewish dishes tended to stay close to their original roots...i.e., my mother would cook pork chops, but ground pork in her classic Jewish stuffed cabbage? Milk in her Passover chopped liver? Would never occur to her - but this was about received culinary tradition, a cultural sensibility, not religious proscription.

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added almost 2 years ago

Same here amysarah. Also, ya'll... Sometimes you can be Jewish that keeps Kosher but isnt Orthodox.

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added over 1 year ago

many thanks. all I wanted to find out is whether soaking liver in milk is a good idea without all the theological baggage. this is like waldorf and stadler on the muppet show.