About Beth

Beth, along with her husband, Mike, is co-owner of two Italian Deli/Markets in St. Louis - Viviano’s Festa Italiano. When not creating yummy new menu items for the deli, she’s the pediatric research lab supervisor at Washington University School of Medicine. Read more out about Viviano’s Festa Italiano.

About Irene

Irene loves to think, read and dream about food. She enjoys cooking & eating in general. Although she demures about her talents, Irene has a finely-tuned palate that her friends envy. She bakes on occasion. The rest of the time she's creating memories with her family and friends. . . or she's learning a new needlecraft technique.

About Deborah

Deborah is a wife, mother, grandmother, traveler, bootlegger, and a very poor speller! As Victor Hazan so eloquently puts it, Deborah has chosen Umbria to be the home of her soul. When she can’t be there in body, she spends her free time cooking & reading about Italy. She blogs mostly about food and about trips – past and future – here: Old Shoes New Trip.

About Doug

Doug lives in Eastern Ontario in a farmhouse built in 1903. He is a retired teacher with four adult children, a wife, a son-in-law, two Irish step-grandchildren and one grandson who he is lucky to hang with a lot. He has way too many books. Doug also blogs at To Slow Time Down.

About Cindy

Cindy lives in Eagle River, Alaska where her freezer is always full of salmon, halibut & shrimp. Cindy participates in several regular cooking challenges. You can read more about her cooking and life in the last frontier on her blog, Baked Alaska.

About Sandi

Sandi is a true Southerner, but a traveler & Italian cook at heart. She lives in Alabama and knows more about fried green tomatoes than fricassees. Her family owned the WhistleStop Café for many years. Sandi also blogs at Whistlestop Cafe Cooking.

About Jan

Jan, a serious home cook, has owned “Essentials” since 1992. She is passionate about all things Italian, especially the cuisine & the language. Jan blogs about her travels (next trip Italy May/June of 2010) at: Keep your Feet in the Street.

About Jerry

Jerry is a food obsessed Canadian. He learned to love Italian food as a child while eating the meals prepared by his Napolitano uncle. He learned to cook Italian foods by watching his uncle cook these feasts for the family. This love of Italian food has been honed through serious personal experimentation in eating and cooking. Willing to try most anything once, Jerry isn't so sure about tripe! Jerry also blogs at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!

About Palma

Palma is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Palm Desert, CA. She’s an Italian-American with a passion for cooking, entertaining, & travel to Italy. She’s always planning her next culinary adventure to Italia on her blog, Palmabella's Passions

About Kim

Kim is our permanent sub and the image above gives you a good idea of the look on her face when she realized she was drafted. Kim loves to eat, drink, travel and cook - probably in that order. When she's not here, you can find her organizing and leading food, wine and beer tours in Europe as co-owner and operator of GrapeHops or blogging at What I Really Think.

« Bolognese Meat Sauce | Main | Tortellini with Meat and Cheese Filling »

Chicken Liver Sauce


My mother was visiting last week on her way back from vacation where she bagged the last three states on her bucket list. Her goal has been to visit all 50 US states before her 90th birthday, which is coming up in November. Add in the five continents she’s also visited, and it becomes pretty clear how I come by my wanderlust.

What’s this got to do with Chicken Liver Sauce, you ask? After her visit, I drove Mom home to the tiny rural town of Marble Hill, in southeast Missouri. Of course, I was delighted to make this 180 mile round trip for Mom’s sake alone. But it didn’t hurt that I could also count on lunch at Shorty’s Chuck Wagon. Except for a mediocre bar-b-que joint called Jay's, and the ubiquitous MacDonald's, Shorty's is all there is for dining out in Marble Hill. It's also all there needs to be. Lunch for me at Shorty’s is always the same -- fried chicken livers, mashed potatoes with milk gravy, homemade buttermilk biscuits, black-eyed peas, and collard greens with fatback. Can everyone say “Amen”?!

I was happy to draw Chicken Liver Sauce in the rotation of pasta sauces. I do love fresh liver. When we get to the Variety Meats chapter, I get it again in the form of Breaded Calf’s Liver.


The recipe calls for vegetable oil instead of olive oil. Out of curiosity I flipped back to the calf’s liver recipe and see vegetable oil again. Being an untrained cook, I never took a class that told me what fats to use in what recipes and why. So, Marcella, I’m hoping you or some trained chef reading this can clue me in. Another question I have is about the teeny-tiny amount of tomato paste dissolved in the vermouth. I have no doubt it's important to the final dish, because nothing could have tasted more perfect to me. I’m just curious about the cooking science.


After cooking the shallot in the oil and butter, I added the diced pancetta and sage. In another minute or two, the ground beef, salt and pepper were stirred in for just long enough to lose the raw red color of the beef. Then comes the chicken livers, also only until the raw color is gone. Finally, the vermouth mixture was added and the whole thing cooked for another 5-8 minutes before a final taste for seasoning.

Marcella says it is magnificent with homemade pappardelle. I made a double batch last week in anticipation of this sauce.


After a dusting of fresh grated parmigiano-reggiano we enjoyed our decadently rich pasta and chicken livers with one of our favorite everyday table wines – A MANO Primitivo from Puglia.


Comments (6)


MMM. I also love liver.(I'd be happy to pinch hit during the liver recipes in the variety meats chapter, if needed)

I will be interested in Marcella's comments regarding the science of this recipe as well.

Deborah, your mother is amazing!

Deborah responds:
Thanks, Susie. Yes, she is - and an inspiration. But, she comes from a long line of strong women. Her mother was the first woman in Springfield, Missouri to own and drive her own car. She thought women who needed drivers were weak. LOL

Wow, you have some great genes!


I'm so happy this was a Tuesday recipe!! :)

Marcella Hazan:

To answer your first question, Deborah: The fat for this recipe wants to be butter, indispensable for the silky texture & mellow, rich flavor that I am after. Butter has a low burning point, however, and I add a little oil to raise that point, but I want a neutral-tasting oil for the purpose, not the assertive taste of olive oil. Second question: This is a simple recipe with complex flavors. The aromatics of the vermouth are extraordinarily congenial to chicken livers, and I want an equally congenial vehicle for them, hence the tomato paste. Were I to use fresh tomatoes, I'd have to cook down a lot of tomato to achieve the same results.PS: Don't think that because you are cooking something Italian, the fat necessarily has to be olive oil. We use a lot of olio di semi, vegetable oil.

Is someone going to do this with a ring of risotto as per one of the suggestions?

Deborah responds:
Marcella, thanks so much for the explanation of the oil and the tomato paste. I am grateful that you didn't instruct me to cook down all those tomatoes! :grin:
Regarding who will be using the sauce in the risotto ring...It will be Doug. On Wed. Aug. 4th.
It occurs to me that you might like a list of all the recipes; who; & when. We have it in a color coded excel spreedsheet which I will email to you right now.

A. Richard Bunn:

I love this dish with the molded risotto that Marcella suggests in the Classic Italian Cookbook. It is one of my favorite "go-to" recipes for an elegant dinner party around Christmastime...and takes the chill off a cool evening!

Deborah responds: Yes, Dick. This was one of my favorites. Later in the challenge, you'll see where Doug (our Wed. Pomodoro) did the risotto dish. It looks beautiful.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 6, 2010 6:58 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Bolognese Meat Sauce.

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