The two women who become grandmothers to Adrian and Johanna Ellis in The Whipping Club have different tastes. Ben Ellis’s Jewish mother, Beva — or Bubbe as she is nicknamed — makes a chopped chicken liver to die for. Delish, Ben agrees, though his wife Marian’s mother, Ma McKeever would disagree.
One scene illustrates the point:
“‘Wait’ll you see these kids eat my chopped liver like they’ve never tasted anything before’, Bubbe said, leaving for the drawing room with a bowl of the pate surrounded with Jacob’s cream crackers.
Gran waved her hand in front of her nose, said the kosher stuff was stinking up all the other food in the fridge.”
However, the two women are more alike than different. Ma McKeever loves to concoct homemade recipes and makes a rich gravy to saturate your turkey plate. The mixed marriage of Jewish journalist Ben Ellis and Irish Catholic schoolteacher Marian McKeever in the 1960’s was, to say the very least, distasteful to their extended families. Neither of the two mothers-in-law wished for this or approved. Nobody came to the wedding. Nonetheless, the interfaith marriage withstands the pressure and turns out to be a winning combination.
This day-after-Thanksgiving sandwich meshes their two worlds and melts in your mouth: On rye bread, spread homemade chopped chicken liver, three thin slices of turkey breast, smother with Irish gravy, and voila! No need for cranberry sauce after that!
As we say in my home before digging in, Slainte and Mazel Tov!
Deborah Henry’s Website
Deborah Henry’s Recipe for My Irish Grandmother’s Turkey Gravy
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 8-10 servings
5 tablespoons rendered chicken fat, divided
1 pound kosher chicken livers
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 medium clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
4 hard-cooked eggs
20 grinds fresh black pepper
Generous pinch ground nutmeg
Cocktail rye bread or Melba crackers
- In a 12-inch skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the chicken fat over medium-high heat. Add the livers and cook, turning once, for about 5 minutes, or until just barely pink inside. Do not overcook. Remove livers from the pan and set aside.
- Add remaining 3 tablespoons of fat to the pan. Add onions and garlic and sauté over medium heat until browned, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle onions and garlic with salt as soon as they begin to wilt.
- Slice three of the hard-cooked eggs in half. Refrigerate the remaining egg to be used for garnish.
- Scrape the sauteed onion, garlic and drippings into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Blend until smooth. Add the egg halves, cooked chicken livers, pepper, and nutmeg. Process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning, keeping in mind that flavor will increase during refrigeration.
- Scrape chicken liver mixture into decorative mold or bowl lined with plastic wrap. Cover with another layer of plastic wrap, pressing wrap to touch the top of the mixture. Refrigerate at least 12 hours or overnight.
- When ready to serve, take paté from refrigerator and remove plastic wrap covering. Invert onto a decorative dish and remove bottom layer of plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature 30 minutes to 1 hour, then grate remaining egg over the top before serving. Paté may be refrigerated up to 5 days or frozen up to 1 month.
Serve with cocktail rye bread or Melba crackers.
Plan ahead for overnight refrigeration to allow flavors to blend.