Oh my word, my tastebuds and thoughts are oozing Texas right now! I took the opportunity while my hubby and daughter were gone to make a decadent mound of crispy fried chicken livers with homemade cream gravy that just made my heart sing. (It’s probably also about go into cardiac arrest, but I’ll worry about that later.) I almost always ordered these at Threadgills when I lived in Austin, and I’ve been craving them for quite some time now. The only problem is my family can’t stand chicken livers and I’m forbade to stinky up the house with this little indulgence of mine when they are around. Now I know, just like cilantro, you are either in the liver-lover or liver-hater camp. I’m sure I already lost those in the latter camp when they read the title, but they are forgiven. (Hey I wonder if there is a correlation between cilantro haters and liver haters? Something to ponder…)
Frying up a batch of chicken livers and cream gravy is another one of those things that just comes to you naturally when you’re from
the South Texas. I didn’t have to look up a recipe, I eyeballed the amounts, and just cooked them as surely as putting on a pair of shoes. I wanted to say boots, but my poor feet can’t fit into them anymore. Anyways, I pretty much danced around the kitchen when I made these, literally. I forgot how much they pop and splatter! I started out by using my splatter screen, but even that was not enough to prevent a major grease event on my countertop and pinging me in the face and arms a few times. I quickly put on a solid pan lid after fearing for my camera as I was trying to set it up on my tripod for a shot. I took the chance and quickly snapped off two shots of them frying, and luckily the camera survived and the photos came out OK. Actually they ended up being the best shots! One of my other shots includes a very suspect chicken liver, reduced in size so as not to gross you out too much. All the other chicken livers were a nice vibrant reddish color, and this one just looked pale and anemic. That chicken must not have eaten his vitamins. I didn’t even bother giving it to my dog, it kind of scared me. It went down the disposal.
I had every intention to make some smashed taters with these and wilt up some baby spinach as sides, but seeing as I was in an indulgent mood, I skipped them altogether and gorged myself silly on these instead. I promised myself to eat nothing but greens for lunch the next day and double up my morning shower exercises. I felt better already just thinking that!
Fried Chicken Livers with Cream Gravy
1 pound chicken livers
1/2 cup or so of flour
1/8 cup (or so) of cornmeal
Lots of ground black pepper, to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Mrs. Dash or salt, to taste
Splash of milk
Vegetable oil, for frying, about a 1/4-inch deep in skillet
1 cup milk
First, rinse off the chicken livers then drain and pat dry as much as possible. The drier they are the less they will pop and spit at you, but that won’t prevent them from splattering once they start frying, let me tell you! Next add the flour, cornmeal and seasonings to a plate and mix’em up. The cornmeal was an afterthought. I like to use it with my chicken-fried steak and said, what the heck, and grabbed the box and tumped some into the mix. My husband thinks “tump” is a funny word. He’s not from Texas, obviously.
In a bowl, whisk the egg and a glurg of milk. By glurg, I mean just pour a quick bit in and it goes “glurg” if your milk container is full. If not, it will just be a splash. At this point, you can start heating up the oil to medium-high heat in a cast iron skillet or another sturdy one. Put the chicken livers in the egg/milk wash, then one by one dredge them through the flour/cornmeal mixture and set them on another plate. Once you’ve got them all coated, your oil should be good and hot and ready. Using tongs, slowly add them to the hot oil. (Don’t throw that extra flour out on the plate yet! You’ll need it for the gravy.) Have a lid ready to cover them up as soon as they are all in. Trust me! At your own risk, peek in at them around three to four minutes later. These puppies don’t take that long to cook up! Now comes the scary part. Uncover, shield your eyes, and quickly flip them over using your tongs and cover right up again. Don’t be surprised if the lid actually pops up a bit. For a spell it sounded like firecrackers in my house! Another three to four minutes later, turn off the heat and slide the pan off the burner. Uncover, and remove to a plate covered with paper towels to drain.
While the chicken livers are draining, whisk up the cup of milk with about a tablespoon of the flour/cornmeal mixture left on the plate I told you to keep. Forgot to save it or didn’t have enough? No worries, just add a tablespoon of fresh flour. Pour off all about a tablespoon of the oil in the skillet and keep all those crispy bits in the bottom of the pan. Put the skillet back on the burner and turn to medium heat. Slowly whisk in the milk mixture, stirring constantly, until all the oil is combined and it’s thickened and bubbly— it takes just a few minutes for this. Season with lots of additional pepper and a little salt, if you want. Since hubby was gone I also added some salt seeing as I was in a risky mood anyways. Serve the chicken livers with the gravy, and dip them liberally into the gravy and eat with your fingers and be in heaven.