Now reading Ethel and Alice’s Chopped Liver

Ethel and Alice’s Chopped Liver

The only essential element is the caramelized onions. When in doubt, add another.

I’ve adopted Ethel’s recipe over the years, depending on the season. In the fall, when the green beans are best, I use more of them. In the winter, when the mushrooms are a better choice, I leave out the beans altogether. In general, the green beans lighten the dish, the mushrooms double the richness. As far as the quantities, this is a forgiving recipe. Play with it as you will. The only essential element is the caramelized onions. When in doubt, add another.


Makes 8 to 10 appetizer servings
  • 1 lb carrots
  • 1/2 lb green beans
  • 3 T butter, olive oil, or a mixture of both
  • 3 large onions, chopped coarsely
  • 10 sprigs thyme
  • 1/2 lb mixed mushrooms (portobello, shiitakes, oyster, king oysters)
  • + salt
  • + pepper
  • + sweet wine (such as port or Manischewitz)
  • 1 medium hard-boiled egg (optional)
  • 15 (or more) walnut halves (toasted & chopped)


  1. Steam carrots and string beans until crisp-tender, about 5–7 minutes.

  2. Melt the butter and oil in a 12-inch skillet (I like cast iron) over medium heat. Add the onion and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is dark brown and gets syrupy, 15–20 minutes.

  3. Stir in the mushrooms with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir occasionally, until the mushrooms are soft and golden and the liquid they release has evaporated, 8–10 minutes. Add the Manischewitz or port and cook, scraping up the browned bits from the pan, until almost evaporated, about 1 minute. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. Remove the sprigs.

  4. Transfer vegetables, onion-and-mushroom mixture, egg, and walnuts into a food processor, and process to desired smoothness.

  5. Chill several hours or overnight in an airtight container.

  6. Adjust seasoning to taste.

  7. Serve classically: a scoop on a lettuce leaf with a decorative sliced carrot. Or unclassically: scoop on a parmesan crisp and a dash of Green Jalapeño Tabasco.