Pasta with Chicken Livers, Bacon and Sage; Chicken as Currency

Our farmer neighbor paid us for grazing privileges last week.  For allowing him to put a couple of young steers in our pasture, so we don’t have to mow it, he pays us.  Not a bad deal!

He pays us in chicken.  (It’s a much more stable currency than the dollar.)

The chicken takes some adjusting to: It’s a bit bloody (being freshly butchered), still has more than a few pin feathers and it’s skin is tough and leathery looking.  I can’t imagine it getting brown, crispy and nibble-worthy.

It has rather long, thick-boned legs and big wings, as it was close to a year old when it ceased clucking.

And it’s bright yellow, not the supermarket creamy white.

Because of it’s age it needs long, slow cooking.  Cooked on the barbecue it’s a tough, chewy, barely edible old bird.  Made into Coq au Vin, or Poulet au Vinaigre that simmers for a few hours, it becomes tender, falling off the bone (large bones) and full of flavor not found in the cellophane chickens.

And it comes with innards.

Sophie knows me well enough that she cleans it; and keeps the head and feet for her own use; but I get the liver.

Mon mari is not particularly fond of fish.  As fate would have it, the chicken was dropped off on Friday, the day I normally do the shopping – which involves a visit to the fish market.

Never one to miss an opportunity, mon mari suggested we forego the lovely fish in lieu of the chicken livers.  Yes, my friends, given the chance, mon mari chose chicken liver for dinner over a lovely seared salmon.

Who am I to argue?

I’ve posted this recipe before…but it is sooooo good, this is a better photo, and now I have the opportunity to get it on the record for posterity: in Presto Pasta Nights.

Presto Pasta Nights was created almost a year ago by the lovely and talented Ruth of Once Upon A Feast.

In all that time I don’t recall seeing one liver and pasta dish!

Well my friends, that’s about to change!

Foie Gras aside (that’s trendy, controversial and expensive, therefore desirable) I think, in general, the consumption of offal is determined in childhood.  If you didn’t grow up with it, it can be a challenge to start enjoying is as an adult.

I grew up with liver and I love it.  I will, somewhat reluctantly, eat sweetbreads but I still can’t bring myself to eat tongue or brains.

A nostalgic moment here: In a memorable episode of “All in the Family”, Michael is eating a tongue sandwich.  Archie is appalled.  Expostulating in his usual style, he demands to know how Michael can eat ‘that’.  Didn’t he know what it was?  Didn’t he know where it had BEEN????   (In a cow’s mouth.)

Michael’s response was:  “But Arch, you eat eggs….”

The recipe, Pasta with Chicken Livers, Bacon and Sage, has been updated, nutrition information added, and re-posted here: Linguini with Bacon and Chicken Livers. 

Now, are you thinking that this is, perhaps, not the healthiest dish in my kitchen?

Well, I could eliminate the bacon and add another tbs of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt to make it more heart-healthy.

But, the liver is good for us.  It has more nutrients per gram than any other food!

The biggest risk of eating liver is getting too much vitamin A.  But, unless you are eating vast quantities 4 or 5 times per week and taking supplements, your risk of vitamin A toxicity is almost non-existent.
As to it being full of toxins: the liver’s purpose is to remove them from the body but it doesn’t store them.  Liver from a healthy animal is, well, healthy!

As to the cholesterol – it’s no better or worse than eggs or shrimp.

All things in moderation…now, eat your liver!  It’s good for you!

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28 thoughts on “Pasta with Chicken Livers, Bacon and Sage; Chicken as Currency”

  1. How lucky you are to have a neighbor who pays in chickens! I would never, ever, forego salmon for chicken livers, but if salmon were not on the menu, chicken livers would be just fine.

  2. Katie, my blog mantra is, “dont’ say anything if you can’t say anything good” and despite my aversion to liver, the dish looks sexy and the aromas must have been dreamy, despite my aversion to liver! lol

  3. I really hate to say this Katie, but I choose the salmon over the livers. Out of all the food in the world, chicken livers is the one I have tried over and over to like but, nah. A big dish of liver and onions graced out family table at home years (yes quite a few!) ago and my mom would have to make my brother and I something else as we just could not do the livers. To this day, I still cannot do liver. Hubby would be at your door in a moments notice if he saw your pasta dish. He loves liver.
    And I love your mention of the episode of “All in the Family” That was a great show! Seems like they do not make shows like they used to.

  4. I’m a miserable, cynical bastard. If your neighbour “pays” you for grazing priviliges, he (apparantly, I could be wrong, but see this link: has a right to those grazing privileges in the future. So should you want to sell the land, his privileges go with it, and if you wanted to build on it, he could veto.
    If you have no plans for the land, then, happy days and happy neighbours.

  5. Lydia, We eat the chicken livers so rarely it was a treat. The salmon, which is amazingly inexpensive here we have often!
    Peter, you’ll just have to trust my opinion…it was good! Maybe I should have put a poll on the blog…naw, liver would lose…
    Deb, I love liver and onions….even as a child. Wouldn’t eat buckwheat pancakes, though… All in the Family was a Sat, ritual for us – followed by MASH.
    Stewert, you are right and need to be a cynic here when dealing with farmers. We HAD a contract with him and terminated it last year. This year he gave us a check for the ‘normal’ amount along with the chicken. We returned the check; kept the chicken as a ‘neighborly’ gesture. I hope even that was not too much!

  6. I didn’t grow up loving liver (cow liver was the only kind I think I ever got served), but I’ve been wanting to try and indoctrinate my adult tastes to chicken livers, so it’s great that you’ve posted a recipe for trying just that! And I love the nostalgic moment…I was just reading along, reading along and then laughing outloud – thanks!!

  7. I love the “trade” system. Sometimes I think I’d be better off if I were paid in chickens, because it feels like I’m getting paid peanuts and that’s not as good…

  8. Wow! Very descriptive post….does a former English teacher proud. 🙂 The dish looks good, but I am with Deb. just can’t do livers.

  9. I grew up with liver, but… never acquired a taste for it. I’ve got to say, though, in spite of that… this *looks* good, Katie.

  10. Wow. Um, I don’t eat chicken livers whole like that, but as I looked at your photo, and how delicious it looks, I was re-considering my position. Yes, it is possible, if chicken livers and pasta looks that good, I might take a taste.

  11. Katie: Such a great show! Both All In The Family and your liver. I always loved liver, chicken & calf. My favorite chicken liver was my mother’s fried chicken liver. I always tried to get the one with the Sunday chicken but once in a while she’d get a little tub of them and that was the meat for the night’s meal. That was beautiful.

  12. Michelle, I grew up with both calves liver and chicken liver. Now, I have the wonderful foie gras…. Try the livers in a salad first…
    Brilynn, I know that feeling! Now if it were REAL peanuts….
    Ah, gee, thanks, Chris! Chicken liver pasta is not for everyone… or even many…
    Michelle, I don’t seem to be getting a lot of ‘takers’ on this one…Hmmmm…..
    Lannae, it’s worth a try… especially with the bacon and shallots!
    Gee, thanks, Colleen…I think! My dogs didn’t get any! (They got the gizard, though)
    Tanna, finally! Someone who likes chicken livrs! My mother and I used to fight over that one from the Sunday chicken!

  13. I just tried Tongue for the first time, I admit I don’t like liver but it wasn’t too bad. It was in a cold cut very thinly sliced format. Good flavour, but the shape did get to me a bit.
    I wish people paid me in chicken – next time take a picture of what the chicken looks like when you get it, I am curious.

  14. i’m intrigued by frozen sage leaves — do you just buy them fresh and freeze and that you don’t use? will this work with other herbs too? i always end up wasting so much, it makes me crazy!

  15. Katie, I grew up eating liver – chicken and calves liver. But my mom never made it this way – this looks terrific!! As for the health benefits or lack of, I’d say that if you’re not eating this several times a week, don’t give it a thought. It’s not what we do occasionally that causes health problems, it’s our daily habits.
    Like you, I had the ritual of All In The Family followed by Mash. Thanks for the reminder!!
    (And I’d love to be paid in chickens – even old birds!)

  16. I don’t think I’ve ever had chicken livers, but I suppose I ought to give it a try–sounds good. And that’s definitely a neat way to get paid (and hey, I wouldn’t mind some cows mowing the lawn, either!).

  17. Mais non, mon ami. Do not eliminate anything from this wonderful pasta dish! I must prepare it soon, hip sticking pasta and all!
    I’ve been missing reading all my favorite food bloggers lately and hope to get a chance to catch up in February. You’ve given me a lot of reading material Katie!

  18. I’m afraid I’m the weird one here: I love liver (only chicken and rabbit), tongue, brains, cheeks, kidneys… As you probably know Katie, here we have no problem eating all these animal parts!
    Your liver pasta looks fantastic!
    After reading back the post, I might look as Hanibal Lecter!!!

  19. That’s very cool, being paid in chickens. What a great lifestyle.
    I’m not too keen on liver but will eat it every so often when hubs says he really wants some. When it’s cooked with bacon, onions and gravy, served with mashed potato I tend to go for not so much liver and lots of everything else.

  20. Katerina, my problem with tongue is that it looks like, well, a tongue!
    Katy, I pick them from my garden, but, yes, you can just pop them in the freezer. Freeze in a single layer then put into a baggie. You can do that with most herbs. You can also chop them and put them in an ice cube tray with water or stock to cover and freeze. Then into a baggie.
    Toni, weren’t those great shows? I haven’t decided what to do with my old bird yet… It’s waiting in the freezer.
    Pam, thanks, I’ll take the marks for presentation!
    Tigerfish, Oooh, ginger does sound good! Chicken livers with ginger, celery, Hoisin sauce…..hmmmmm
    Mike, the cows are efficient, mowing and fertilizing….
    Thanks, Christine. I have high hopes for February, as well 😉
    Nuria, eating nose to tail! I’ve never had rabbit liver, Mon mari doesn’t like rabbit so I don’t buy it but I know that they always sell it with the liver. Must be good.
    Amanda, bacon, onions and gravy make almost anything palatable!

  21. I would love to get paid in old chickens. It’s impossible to get a true hen or rooster. My grandmother raised her own chickens and allowed them to live quite a while before she quickly dispatched them. And they made the best chicken and dumplings. No young chicken provides the depth of flavor an old bird does.

  22. Wow! And perfect timing…I happen to have fresh sage AND my Honey is going away on business Sunday for a few days. Since I’ll be alone and no one else around to do the “yuck, how can you eat that?” I will make some, moan away and enjoy, enjoy.
    Thanks sooooo much for sharing withPresto Pasta Nights.

  23. Sher, that has always been my mother’s complaint as well. Can’t barbecue them, though….
    Ruth, perfect timing, indeed. I hate it when people turn their noses up at my wonderful food…. Enjoy!

  24. How delicious that pasta looks! And, by coincidence, I have a bag of livers in my freezer that I’m planning to make Pasta alla Caruso with. I’ve been planning, but not doing (I’m a little apprehensive, having not had pasta with chicken livers before). Now I’m even more inspired to just do it.

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