Battle of the Dishes: Chicken-Fried Chicken Livers from Cornbread Diner and Tipsy Parson
If the current fixation with all foods cholesterol-laden and comforting brings about a chicken-fried chicken liver renaissance, all that superfluous mac-and-cheese will have been worth it. They're elemental and delicious, entry-level offal. The crisp, rugged batter contrasts nicely with the cushiony organs, and a quick fry should be the perfect amount of time to cook them, so that they arrive still pink in the center.
This week's Battle of the Dishes pits two versions of chicken-fried chicken livers against each other, one from a legitimately down-home restaurant, Cornbread Diner (shown top), in Flatbush, Brooklyn, and one from a high-end, buzzed-about restaurant, Tipsy Parson (shown bottom).
The biggest differences between the two plates are the sides and the price--the fried chicken liver lunch special at Cornbread Diner is $5.95; at dinner, it costs $7.50. Its equivalent at Tipsy Parson is $12. Both plates come with extras. Tipsy Parson serves the livers with refined accompaniments: tart tomato preserves, grilled bread, and watercress. At Cornbread Diner, you get an incredible amount of food for the price: cornbread, soup or salad (choose soup, such as split pea), and a side, like collard greens (shown in the picture) or mac-and-cheese.
But let's get down to it--the livers. The two restaurants fashion equally good batter crusts. Both are fried in very hot oil, so that they are nearly grease-less, and both coatings are well-seasoned and have that irregular, craggy texture that makes anything chicken-fried so good.
Tipsy Parson serves large organs, just cooked through, so that when you crunch into one, the interior gushes molten and custard-like. It's a beautiful thing. Cornbread Diner serves a larger portion of smaller livers, and, although they are extremely tasty, they've been cooked a touch too long, which turns their insides dry and crumbly. If only they had been plucked from the oil a few seconds earlier, they would have prevailed in this battle, especially as they are such a good value. But overcooking is a mistake that chicken-liver-lovers can't tolerate, so the prize goes to Tipsy Parson, for serving the offal with creamy, rich centers.
Check out the complete Battle of the Dishes series.
Tipsy Parson 156 Ninth Avenue 212-620-4545
Cornbread Diner 1436 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn 718-484-2424
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