Cheap food for poor times

So, Randy Newman was right. Mr. President, have pity on the working man (and woman). Bush didn’t; high hopes for Obama. Which brings me to poor people’s food, the left over scraps, odd parts and nasty bits that Southern cooks have been turning into haute cuisine for generations. Among my favorites is chicken livers. Livers of many kinds are pate in France; viewed with noses in skyward position in the United States.


Saveur has an article in its fabulous 100 issue on a grandma that made the best chicken livers in Louisville. Which made me think of an excerpt from a cookbook yet unpublished that centers on my journey from Northern girl to Southern belle. One of my first encounters with chicken livers that I actually craved happened when my husband made his Granny Belle’s recipe for chicken livers. Not a recipe, actually, but a procedure. And you can feed four people for about $1.69.

Just try this once. If you don’t like chicken livers fried this way there’s just no hope for you.

Mark Mayhew’s Fried Chicken Livers

1 lb. chicken livers

1 egg, beaten

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

Vegetable oil

Rinse livers in cold water and put in a medium-sized bowl. Add beaten egg and mix thoroughly. Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a brown paper bag. Dump in chicken livers, close bag, and shake vigorously.

Heat about ½ inch oil in a large frying pan until it sizzles when you sprinkle it with water (about 375 degrees). Be careful not to get spattered, although oil stains on your shirt are a sure sign you know how to fry. Add the chicken livers to the oil (you want to make sure the livers start to fry immediately and almost violently – that makes the coating stick). Salt and pepper liberally. Turn the livers after a couple of minutes or when the bottom coating is brown and livers release from the pan. Reduce heat to medium.

As livers fry, separate them. Cook for another five minutes or so. Drain on paper towels. Serve with catsup.

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