Chopped Liver

Recipe from Mark Greene
Submitted by Muddy Pearl


12 -13 ounces of chicken livers
3 eggs
2 medium mushrooms (e.g. chestnut)
1 medium onion
2 garlic cloves
2 flat tsp of sugar
Salt & pepper


Chop the onion and mushrooms into smallish pieces, crush and the garlic and fry gently in oil until the onion is golden brown. Remove from the pan. Fry the chicken livers til cooked. Hard boil the eggs. Mix two of the eggs with the other ingredients in a mixer to create a smooth or slightly coarse pate to taste. Put in a serving bowl or shallow dish and slice or crumble the third egg on top of the pâté.

Serve with crunchy toast or matzah and sweet and sour cucumber pickles.

I grew up Jewish – with some emphasis on the ‘ish’. My father, Abraham Maurice Greene of the Giffnock Greenbergs, came from an orthodox family, but my mother was a Gentile from Kelvinside, the daughter of a man who fought in the Spanish Civil War and sent her to Socialist Sunday School. Still, when children came along my parents decided to bring us up Jewish. Friday nights were special: the weekend and the Sabbath started here.

We always spent Friday night together, at home or out at my grandparents’ or uncle’s house. And when I say ‘always’ I mean always – except for one black Friday when my parents went to some swanky party. I was about ten and remember standing out in the driveway shouting at them in their ‘Saturday’ best as they pulled away in our Vauxhall Victor. It wasn’t just a missed appointment, it wasn’t just abandonment, it was betrayal. They knew what they’d done – guilt was as clear on their faces as the nose on a rhino. They never did it again.

On Friday nights, we would light two tall candles, majestic in their brass candlesticks, to welcome the Sabbath in. Dad would stand to read a few prayers in Hebrew – a snippet of Genesis, and it was evening and it was morning – the sixth day… and the blessing over the wine and over the bread – a giant, golden brown, plaited challah. We’d all get a sip of sweet wine from the same cup and a piece of challah from the same loaf with a sprinkle of salt. And then we’d have chopped liver – always. Main courses would vary and there would be at least two desserts. There might be other starters – brilliant fuchsia-coloured borscht or smetana with chunks of cucumber and spring onion – but we’d always have chopped liver. God, home, prayer, everyday life, celebration, chopped liver all mixed together – that same experience shapes the Christmas poems in Adventure, that sense of God being involved, there with us in the ordinary stuff of life.

Now chopped liver is simple food, inexpensive, everyday fare and there’s an idiom that you hear in Jewish circles, “What am I, chopped liver?” It’s essentially a good-natured way of saying, “Why aren’t you treating me with the adulation and adoration that my status and character deserve?” Why chopped liver should be singled out for this calumny is beyond me. It’s an outrageous slander – somebody should sue. Chopped liver is magnificent. I love it – thickly spread on matzah, or challah, with lots of salt and a roundel of pickle. My Dad makes it still and drops off small tubs to me, an occasional reminder of childhood – mum, dad, my brother – an abiding truth in my life, my family’s love.

Mark Greene is the author of Adventure, a beautiful, original and compelling invitation into the drama, wonder and mystery of the Christmas story. The warm rhythms and fresh directness of Mark Greene’s poems are graced not only by illuminating design and gorgeous illustrations but by reflections that poignantly and powerfully connect the ancient world with our own. Intriguing and uplifting, Adventure makes an exquisite gift for Christmas, an enriching companion for Advent and a source of inspiration in any season.

Mark Greene is published by Muddy Pearl.