Fifth Quarter: Chicken Littles

And by “chicken littles” we mean “chicken livers.” Wait, wait hear us out. This hors d’oeuvre is a great throwback snack and sure to please your guests (whether they know what they’re eating or not).

The fifth quarter, or butcher’s cut, is offal traditionally kept by the butcher for home cooking. Often inexpensive and always tasty, RVANews’s monthly column, Fifth Quarter, offers less-traveled recipes that are both good and offal.

The second installment of Fifth Quarter utilizes chicken livers, which can be purchased for $3 to $4 a pound.

The cocktail hour tradition of hors d’oeuvres, a word whose meaning loosely translates to “outside the main work,” is reappearing at Richmond restaurant bars, such as Six Burner and Acacia. Smart bar patrons want just a bite with their bourbon. In my grandmother’s time, little bites were Bridge fare, served alongside a Bloody Mary instead of lunch.

These tidbits were often requested by her card-playing guests, who were from an era when no one grimaced at the word “liver.” I loved these hors d’oeuvres as a kid, but, of course, had no idea what I was eating.

This is an adaptation of a recipe, torn from a 1982 edition of Cooking with Bon Appetit, which she kept taped inside her cupboard. It’s a quick and easy recipe and can be made for cocktail parties or when it’s your turn to cook. Have a cocktail or glass of semi-dry Riesling at the ready and practice the lost art of conversation over comfort food while tossing a salad or putting the finishing touches on dinner.

If serving children (or squeamish eaters) I suggest you just call these bites “Chicken Littles” as my grandmother did.


  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1lb. chicken livers, trimmed of visible green or black spots, coarsely chopped
  • Large bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped fine
  • 9 fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 c. capers, rinsed, drained and chopped fine
  • 4 anchovy fillets, fork-mashed
  • 3 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • Large loaf of bread, toasted and cut into small slices
  • Dozen quail eggs, hard boiled, peeled and cut- in- half (optionally added at “fancy” occasions — my grandmother used hard-boiled chicken eggs, yolks only, in her version)


Melt butter over medium heat in large saucepan. Add chicken livers, herbs and capers. Cook until livers lose their rosy pink color. Add vinegar and anchovies and cook another minute. Spread on the toast rounds and top with half a quail egg.

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Genevelyn Steele

Genevelyn Steele mixed her first drink, a “Pink Squirrel”, at age six. Dubbed a natural, she was quickly enlisted to bartend at her parents’ soirees.

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