The Perfect Sandwich
Chicken livers and hard boiled eggs of course! When combined in a sandwich, that’s poultry perfection squared, literally, within a small square ciabatta.
The Chef paid $3.00 for Murray’s chicken livers that fed us both for dinner the night before. He cooked them using a Marcella Hazan Recipe. I had to eat crow in addition to my chicken livers, because I’d been turning up my nose at the mass of squirmy maroon raw livers on the green chopping board. I had been hoping they would be chopped up as part of a pasta dish, more easily disguised and palatable. Yet, he made them the centerpiece, our secondi piatti, and cooked them just right--army olive green on the outside with a deep blush of rose on the inside.
Of course chicken liver does have all sorts of unsavory associations—the leftover tubs of chopped liver from shivas or the student poverty meals, in which you’re trying to eke out a week’s worth of meals on the likes of the small tubs of chicken liver, the non-moldy corner of cheese, canned tunafish and old fronds of celery in the vegetable crisper. My older brother, Paul Brandwein, called after our meal and related his own poor student chicken liver memory. After graduate school in ceramics, he was a "starving artist" living in Alfred Station, NY, home to Stearn's Poultry Farm. "I started going to Stearns to buy chicken and chicken livers. I probably 'stir-fried' them in soy sauce and sherry with some other veggies. Stearns smelled awful and the women who worked there often reminded me of...chickens, but I guess everyone went there for the prices." And who can forget Philip Roth’s indelible scene involving raw chicken livers and a libidinous young man in Portnoy’s Complaint? Oy!
But while they sure are cheap, chicken livers cooked well taste quite rich indeed. We could not finish the ones in our dish, which were tender and swirling in a fragrant light sauce of wine and sage. So when washing up, the chef handed me my plate with two plump livers, each the size of a large Medjool date, and said, “you’re not going to eat these tomorrow, are you?” gesturing toward the garbage bin, I said, "I sure am!" Ever one to take up a challenge, I told him I would put them in a "perfect sandwich." "Why not with hard-boiled egg?" he offered. Cheep + Cheep = Very Cheap indeed (and remember, $3.00 of chicken livers covered dinner for two and a lunch for one). I couldn't help remembering the Marlin, a long defunct bar in Morningside Heights and haven for drunkards and Columbia University professors, who were often one and the same. A jar of hard boiled eggs on the bar had a sign that read: "Boneless chicken dinner, 50¢" ( and the Marlin was where the Chef and I had our first kiss.).
So here it is, the Poultry Perfection Squared sandwich. Spread open a small ciabatta:
One liver, sliced, spread over the bottom of a small Trader Joe's ciabatta square
Two slices of one hard boiled egg on top, salt and pepper to taste*
On the other side of the ciabatta, mayonnaise
Some prosciutto (Trader Joe’s)
Two fresh sage leaves
Repeat on another small ciabatta. Fold over, slice, eat and start chirping with delight.
*I learned from Martha Stewart how to cook the perfect hard-boiled egg. Put the egg in a saucepan covered with water and bring to a boil. As soon as it comes to a boil, turn the heat off, wait 12 minutes with saucepan still covered, and then your egg is ready to peel and eat.