Chef Charles D’Ablaing’s fried chicken liver recipe

Chef Charles D'Ablaing
Chef Charles D'Ablaing

After stints at Webster House, the Raphael, and Hotel Sorella, Charles D’Ablaing was ready for a change. “What I really wanted was a fried chicken joint,” he says. “A place where families could come in, kids could make noise, and everyone would be comfortable.” Thus was born Brookside Poultry Company earlier this year.

It happened so fast that D’Ablaing didn’t even have a liquor license when the restaurant opened. But it didn’t matter. Crispy fried chicken, prepared while you wait, is the reason to come here.

D’Ablaing reached back to his Georgia roots for other menu items like black-eyed pea soup, fried green tomatoes, and the zippy Comeback Sauce made with mayonnaise (Duke’s if you’re truly Southern). He turned to Barham Family Farm in Kearney, Missouri, for pasture-raised chicken and duck.

Brining helps poultry stay juicy inside while getting crispy outside, says D’Ablaing. But it really does something extra wonderful for chicken livers. “Brining gets rid of the iron taste that liver can have and makes the texture like velvet,” he explains.

When he gets the heads-up from Barham Family Farms that chicken livers are available, he puts them on the menu, letting aficionados know via Facebook. “The one thing I learned the hard way is to cover the deep fryer when you cook these. The livers get really hot and spit hot grease at you.” He points to his forehead where a deep-frying chicken liver made its indelible mark.

Sour Cream-Brined Chicken Livers

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As an appetizer or an entrée, these velvety chicken livers have a devoted following at Brookside Poultry Company.

Serves 4 to 6

1 pound chicken livers

Oil for deep frying

Sour Cream Brine:

1/4 cup sour cream

1 large egg, beaten

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon paprika

Seasoned Flour:

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon dried English mustard

One day ahead, whisk the brine ingredients together and pour over the chicken livers in a bowl. Cover, refrigerate and let brine for 24 to 48 hours.

When ready to fry, heat the oil in a deep fryer to 350 degrees F. For the seasoned flour, combine the flour and spices and put on a plate. Remove the livers from the brine, pat gently with paper towels, and discard the brine.

Dredge the livers in the seasoned flour and fry, in batches, with a lid over the deep fryer until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.

Comeback Sauce

Southern sauces have names that get to the heart of the matter. Jezebel Sauce first tempts you with a sweet note from jelly or marmalade, then turns up the heat with horseradish. Red-eye gravy, made by swishing black coffee in the skillet after frying ham, makes a red eye when it pools as the coffee in the center drops to the bottom. Alabama white sauce is exactly that—a mayonnaise-based, vinegary barbecue sauce, which could send shivers down the spines of tomato-based sauce lovers. Over ribs, nuh-uh, but over smoked or grilled chicken, it’s pretty good.

One of the favorite condiments of the South, Comeback Sauce also tells you just what to expect. You’ll come back for more. It’s the accompaniment of choice for saltine crackers, fried or grilled fish, boiled shrimp, corn fritters, crab cakes, and fried green tomatoes. Yankees have been known to mistake it for a creamy French dressing and serve it—horrors—over salad. Okay, maybe a cold seafood salad.

Legend has it that this smoother cousin of the classic remoulade originated at one of two Jackson, Mississippi restaurants in the 1930s. Today, there are as many versions as there are Southern cooks. Duke’s mayonnaise or Hellman’s? Chili sauce or ketchup? Always paprika.

Comeback Sauce is seeing a bit of a New South revival, with chefs serving it on Reubens, fish tacos, and fried alligator. A restaurant owner bottles it in New Orleans. And now it has traveled up to Missouri, seeking a new legion of fans.