Tragedy* loves chicken livers. Specifically fried chicken livers.
Being the good wife that I am, I decided that if he wanted them, he should have them. No…I did not order takeout. No…I did not have some delivered. I decided to make them at home…from scratch.
That’s why this story is a testament to the fact that I’d do pretty much anything for this man because it involves two things I absolutely do not like — raw meat and frying.
My first feeling that this was a misbegotten venture came at the Piggly Wiggly, which is where I went to purchase said innards of the farm fowl. If you’ve never scrutinized the poultry section of the cooler case, they are sold in little cartons with plastic tops. And even through the semi-opaque lid, I could tell that the livers were floating in some sort of foul (pun intended) and bloody soup.
In the checkout line, watching them glide down the conveyor belt, I wondered what I had gotten myself into. Then I said a little prayer that the lids would hold on at least until I got home. You got to double bag that nasty shit.
Back at the house, I looked for a few recipes and decided that good old basic Southern frying was the way to proceed. After all, it’s chicken livers. Not foie gras.
Now I don’t like to fry. I just like to eat deep fried things. Take my Southerner card if you want, but after a skillet full of frying oysters spontaneously combusted on me, I was scarred forever.
Also, Mama made a career out of insuring people’s homes. Guess what most of the losses were caused by — grease fires. So many grease fires.
And to top it all off, my childhood home was burned to the ground by the people who were renting it. Grease fire. They had a Fry Daddy failure and that old house went up like a box of matches.
But my sweet and wonderful Tragedy was craving chicken livers so I bit the bullet and decided to fry because he’s cute and I love him and we’re in the middle of a global pandemic and can’t go to the nice restaurant for a plate of crusty organ meats.
Anyone who’s ever fried anything, even infrequent fryers like me, know it’s a process. You have to get everything set up just right before you ever even turn the fire on under that pot of grease. That’s why first I set up my frying station. That’s what they call it in all the cooking magazines — your “frying station.” From left to right I had my egg and milk mixture, my seasoned flour, my big Le Creuset dutch oven**, and a baking sheet with a rack and paper towels.
Then it was time to tackle the innards.
I cracked open the carton of chicken livers and poured the bloody goo liquid down the drain. Let’s just take a moment to reflect on the fact you have to pour off the bloody liquid they come in which is just plain revolting. If I have to deal with meat, I like it to come on a nice little sanitary Styrofoam tray, not in blood soup.
But the spirit of wifely devotion kept me from yakking in the garbage disposal and I fished the first liver out and flopped it down on the cutting board. It was bigger than I expected and bigger than the ones I’d seen in the gas station hot bars so I figured I’d have to cut them in half, which I did. Now livers are squishy and slippery, but they cut surprisingly easily which is disconcerting in it’s own right.
Once I had prepared all the livers, I put them in the milk and egg mixture, got the Crisco to melting, and made myself a stiff drink. There’s only so much raw meat handling I can take all at once, and livers pretty well exceed my tolerance level. I needed a little “courage” to carry on through the frying process.
Eventually the Crisco was all heated up, so I dragged a few of the chicken livers out of the milk and egg and through the flour and lowered them into the grease.
Surprisingly, it was the right temperature and they started sizzling like God intends things to do when they hit hot grease. “Cook until browned” is what the recipe said, so that’s what I was going for. What the recipe didn’t say was that quite unexpectedly these chicken livers would start to pop and spit sending great gobs of grease all across my kitchen.
At one point I heard a great pop and time slowed down in such a way that I could see a huge bubble of hot Crisco flying through the air straight at me, growing larger and larger as it neared me. I was so mesmerized by this flying grease bomb and the fact that time was practically standing still, that I failed to move or defend myself in any way. I couldn’t even throw up a dish towel to stop it from landing squarely on my forehead and stinging the peaturkey out of me like a mad, greasy wasp.
It was pretty much all downhill from there. I tried to cook most of the rest of the livers from a distance of arm plus tongs (however far that is), my counter got covered in grease, my floor got covered in grease, the kitchen rug was ruined, my arms and face were speckled with little red dots from grease splatter, and I was only about halfway finished.
With eleven crispy brown livers draining over paper towels, Tragedy and I decided to call it church. We had enough for dinner, and I hoped they’d be good — or at least good enough. Lord knows we’d need our strength to clean up the mess.
*Tragedy is what I call my Husband because of his resting sad face as compared to my usual mule-eating-briars Comedy grin.
**Brother got me that dutch oven for Christmas, and I cook just about everything in it now. Soups, stews, pasta, roasts, and even livers — it’s just the right size, nothing sticks, and the heat distribution is perfect. I highly recommend it. Just know that if you click through that link and buy you one, I might earn a little commission.