This chicken liver pilaf with dill is a much cherished family recipe I received from my mother in law. It's a fixture on our holiday menus now and never missing from the table during special times of the year like Christmas and Thanksgiving.
I first tried this chicken liver pilaf with dill when my husband and I were dating and I started spending the holiday with his family. My husband and I have been together for almost 15 years now. I can definitely say it's enough time for this pilaf to have become a cherished tradition for me too.
I learned recently that my mother in law hasn't just been making this recipe for years, it's also a cherished tradition in her family that was made for special occasions when she was growing up in Romania. That made me love it even more.
The taste is hearty and comforting, a perfect accompaniment to chicken, turkey or other poultry. The liver adds creaminess, the onion gives it sweetness, and the main brighter flavors that come through are the dill and garlic.
Ingredients for chicken liver pilaf
The basic idea of this recipe is that it's rice that's cooked together with liver, onion and garlic and then once cooked, a lot of fresh dill is added.
Normally in Romanian cuisine, a pilaf is distinguished from a rice in that pilaf is rice cooked with other ingredients like chicken, vegetables or even just stock.
So since this recipe has the rice cooking in the onion and liver, it's a pilaf. Or in Romanian, pilaf cu ficăței de pui.
Rice: My MIL makes her chicken liver pilaf with par-cooked rice but I make it with basmati. I prefer the raw rice since it takes longer to cook and can therefore absorb more of the flavors. You can also use a generic medium or long grain rice rather than basmati.
Chicken liver: I like to cut the chicken liver into small pieces around the size of a bean, with a few larger pieces of varying sizes left throughout just for some textural nuance.
Yellow onion: The yellow onion is diced very finely and adds a lot of sweetness to the dish. You can substitute shallot, white onion or even red onion if that's all you have.
Garlic: Garlic gives an overall nice flavor. Use whole cloves minced or mashed finely.
Seasoning: Just salt and black pepper.
Fresh dill: Fresh dill chopped finely as shown in the photo. Normally I remove the stems as I go and then finely chop the finer threads. If you don't have patience you can also leave the stems on, just rip off the bigger or thicker ones for a more refined look and taste.
Making the pilaf is really simple. First you will need to sauté the onion in butter until it's soft and translucent to really bring out all the sweet notes.
Then the liver goes in with garlic, salt, black pepper and a bit more butter. It needs to be cooked over high heat until it begins to brown.
Once the liver is browned, it's just a matter of adding the rice, a bit more salt and water. Cook covered for about 20 minutes. Finally, when the rice is soft and cooked you turn off the heat and add the fresh dill.
The simplicity is really beautiful and it's an easy side dish to throw together on a weeknight.
Likewise, if you're making this for a special occasion it's really minimal hands-on time. You can get this cooking on the stovetop quickly and then focus on other side dishes you might want to make.
Serving Suggestion for Chicken Liver Pilaf
This chicken liver pilaf with rice is absolutely perfect with poultry. We love it as a side dish for turkey at Thanksgiving or Christmas.
It would also be great with easy weeknight chicken dishes like chicken schnitzel or chicken breast.
Storing & Reheating
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. To reheat, the microwave is the simplest and best option.
Chicken Liver Pilaf with Dill
- large pot with lid
- 400 grams chicken livers About 1lb
- 2 cups rice medium or long grain like basmati
- 4.5 cups water
- 2 yellow onions finely diced
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3 cloves garlic minced or mashed
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 cups fresh dill chopped
- Cut the liver into small pieces. Wash and chop the dill finely. Finely dice the onion and mince or mash the garlic.
- Sauté the onions over medium heat in half the butter until they are soft and translucent (not browned) (3-5 minutes)
- Add the liver, garlic, black pepper, the rest of the butter and half a teaspoon of salt.
- Heat on high until liver starts to brown and crumble (7-10 minutes).
- Add the rice, rest of the salt and 4 cups water. Stir so it's mixed evenly.
- Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the rice is soft.
- Turn off heat and add the chopped dill. Stir to combine evenly.