“ Brand: Sainsbury's / Type: Frozen Food „
COST (@ 22.10.08): 44p for a 250g tub
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (per 100g):
- of which sugars: 0.1g
- of which saturates: 1.7g
- of which mono unsaturates: 1.2g
- of which polyunsaturates: 1.6g
INGREDIENTS: Chicken livers
DIETARY INFORMATION: This item is suitable for coeliacs
Before I begin, I shall spew forth a kind of a disclaimer - for the most part, except for a couple of brands of pate and Brain's Faggots, I actually loathe, hate and despise offal with a venom beyond rational description.
Now onto the review.
Sainsbury's Chicken Liver Pots are to be found at what I call the "dross meat" end of their frozen food sction. They are packed into a little white plastic pot that is quite deep, and this pot is slid inside a thin cardboard sleeve-style cover, which is open at the sides. The cardboard cover is mostly a chocolate-brown colour. On the top left-hand side of the front of the cover is an image of a Union Jack which I assume is intended to inform that the product is British, and on the top left-hand side and in blue, are the letters O and S - I have never been able to work out what these mean. The Sainsbury's trademark, the words (in white) "chicken livers" and a small image of a couple of chunks of liver appear inside a darker brownish/goldish coloured circle. Running through the bottom of that circle is a dark blue scroll with white lettering, bearing the words "great for pate". On the bottom right-hand side of the cardboard sleeve is the weight of the product with very basic calorie information - this is pale blue on top and white below. The back and front sides of the sleeve each show half the same brownish/goldish circle and the Sainsbury's trademark. Turn the whole pack upside down, and on the base is all the nutritional and dietary information. The top of the white carton containing the livers has a peel-off plastic seal, which is easily removed.
A few years ago, I went through a brief phase of being anaemic, and my GP suggested that I eat some liver. On telling him that I just can't eat the stuff as it makes me want to throw up, he asked if I'd ever tried chicken livers before - which, I hadn't. He told me they are much milder in flavour than lamb, pig or ox liver, and so cheap that if I did buy some to try and discovered that I still wasn't able to eat the stuff, it wouldn't be too much waste to either throw it away, or give it to anyone who had a pet cat or dog. Reluctantly, I decided to follow my GP's advice, and went on the hunt for some chicken livers. The following day, I found these tiny little pots of chicken livers nestling in Sainsbury's freezer - so I took the plunge, and bought a pack - well at 44p, if I didn't like them it would be no loss, and if I did like them, it would be an astonishingly economical way of getting the iron I needed in my diet.
On arriving home, I slid the cardboard sleeve from the white pot and had a look inside, removing the white plastic seal. I was thinking maybe I could make a savoury rice dish which my mum used to cook - she used mixed vegetables and chunks of spam - and I was looking along the lines of replacing the spam with very finely chopped chicken livers. I placed the pot on a plate and put in the fridge so the livers could defrost before cooking - they took about two and a half hours to completely defrost.
I decided to cook the savoury rice dish in a wok. While the livers were defrosting, I'd chopped up some onions and other vegetables - so I tentatively tipped the reddish brown livers onto a chopping board, cringing slightly at the very thought of them simply being offal. It was then I realised there was far too much liver in the pot for me to use at one serving, and I didn't want to re-freeze it for safety reasons, so I scooped up half and gave to my next door neighbours for their cat's dinner (I was later told the cat devoured them and was screaming for more!). With a moderate feeling of distaste, I began to chop up the livers and found that it was a slow task using a knife - I wanted to get this unpleasantness over quickly, so I abandoned the knife and snipped away at them with sharp kitchen scissors, cutting them into tiny little pieces. I noticed that these livers didn't have that disgusting slaughter-house odour that other liver seems to have, and I was pleased that there was a total absence of horrible fatty bits and those odious tubular shaped ventricles, and that made the task of preparing them, not to mention the anticipation of eating them, so much easier.
The little drop of oil I'd put in the wok was bubbling away nicely, so I fried the chopped vegetables and tiny liver pieces together. I was surprised to see that the liver didn't go slimy - the pieces fried up nicely, and actually looked rather appetising....turning a nice rich brown colour, and the cooking smell was good. I added the rice - fried for a couple of minutes - then added the liquid, and simmered until the whole lot was cooked to perfection. Pleased with how the results looked on my plate, I proceeded to tuck in...a little wary that I'd hate the liver - but, I was very pleasantly surprised.
The liver flavour was so very very mild, that it was hardly as if I was eating offal at all. It blended perfectly with the vegetables (on this occasion I used onions, sweetcorn, peas, courgettes and tomatoes), and I was surprised to discover that I wasn't just tolerating the meal - I was actually enjoying it! I cleared my plate and declared every single mouthful delicious!
Ever since then (by the way, my anemia cured itself over the next few weeks) I have eaten this savoury vegetable rice with chicken livers at least once a month or so; incidentally, the anemia has never returned.
It does have to be said that I have never tried Sainsbury's Chicken Liver Pots cooked or served in any other way than described above, and I consider it possible that I may not enjoy them so much used in a different kind of recipe - but that's a personal wariness I still have of offal in general, and not a criticism of this particular brand of chicken livers.
As far as Sainsbury's Chicken Liver Pots are concerned, they are borderline delicious....well, for offal....and are ludicriously cheap - the pots are crammed full of these tiny, delicate little livers. The only problem with them is that I found a whole pot to be far too much, hence next door's cat being a grateful beneficiary. Because the livers are frozen in a solid block together, it is impossible to separate them and freeze them in single portions. This wouldn't be a problem if feeding two or more people, but if you live on your own, you can be certain that a whole thawed out pot is far, far too much for one serving.
I've never tried making pate with Sainsbury's Chicken Liver Pots (though I have an aversion to liver in general, I do actually like liver pate and some brands of liver sausage), but I'd imagine it makes a lovely, mild tasting and smooth pate which most people would love.
I will award Sainsbury's 8 out of 10 for their Chicken Liver Pots - total points would have been awarded if there was a simpler way of separating them into portions while still frozen...maybe the inside of the white plastic carton could be divided off into two or more removable sections!
Thanks for reading everyone, and I hope an article on grass roots offal hasn't been too offensive for those of a nervous disposition.