An Homage to Mad Men: Gourmet's Rumaki

In honor of the third season premiere of Mad Men, I decided to make the mock-Polynesian hors d'oeuvre Rumaki, which Betty Draper serves up in Season 2. And while there are new school versions with shrimp or dates, I wanted to do Betty proud and make the classic recipe with (vegetarians, be warned) chicken livers.

Gourmet's version:

our version:

The first part of the recipe threw me a little: Put on your fave house dress, light a cigarette, and try not to let the Cuban missile crisis spoil your evening.
Check out the price of the liver. 52 cents! Whaa? Is it 1962?? Did I just become the Time Traveler's wife? And if so, did my husband just bring me back reasonably-priced chicken livers?
The next step was to make a simple marinade: soy sauce, ginger, brown sugar, and curry powder.

I felt like Anthony Bourdain buying liver at the meat counter. "Give me the best organs you've got. Yeah, I'm making chicken liver. Whatever."

But, once I had the burgundy sac-like organs on the cutting board, I completely lost my edge. There were these white connective tissues (not pictured) that I just couldn't handle. Thus, I called in Matt to slice the liver into 1/2 inch pieces.Matt finished cutting, examined the brownish red liver-sludge covering his hands and left the room, saying and I quote: "I'm going to go wash my hands for forever."

Here's the slug, errr, I mean, marinated liver and water chestnut getting wrapped in bacon.

I usually avoid recipes that involve broiling because I've used the broiler exactly zero times before but, this recipe called for broiling. So, I broiled... and all of the toothpicks caught on fire. It was like a broiling birthday cake in there.
I guess I should have turned them on their side? (Note the fiery toothpick.)

As for the taste? Matt tried one first and absolutely hated it, feeling that the liver taste was overpowering. After his visceral reaction, I was worried that I might have a major Rumaki fail on my hands. But then I went in for one and thought they tasted fine, mostly like bacon and water chestnuts. Our friends reaction was mixed, though all were eaten. Would I make them again? Not unless the Drapers were coming over.

See you tomorrow, Bets!

RUMAKI (via Gourmet/Epicurious)
  • 1/4 lb chicken livers, trimmed and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 12 canned water chestnuts, drained and halved horizontally
  • 8 bacon slices (1/2 pound), cut crosswise into thirds
  • Special equipment: 24 wooden toothpicks
Cut chicken livers into 24 (roughly 1/2-inch) pieces. Stir together soy sauce, ginger, brown sugar, and curry powder. Add livers and water chestnuts and toss to coat. Marinate, covered and chilled, 1 hour.
While livers marinate, soak toothpicks in cold water 1 hour. Drain well.
Preheat broiler.
Remove livers and chestnuts from marinade and discard marinade. Place 1 piece of bacon on a work surface and put 1 piece of liver and 1 chestnut in center. Wrap bacon around liver and chestnut and secure with a toothpick. Make 23 more rumaki in same manner.
Broil rumaki on rack of a broiler pan 2 inches from heat, turning once, until bacon is crisp and livers are cooked but still slightly pink inside (unwrap 1 to check for doneness), 5 to 6 minutes. Serve immediately.


Matt said...

These tasted weird. Mad Men in 2 1/2 hours!

Larrupin said...

I'm not a fan of chicken livers but I buy them for my cats & dogs sometimes...however, a bar I used to go to back in the 70s had these as part of their Happy Hour appetizers and I kind of liked them. I concentrated on the bacon & don't remember the liver taste so much.
I might have to make a couple next time I buy these for the pets.
Thanks for the recipe!

john hamm said...

I think I met you at a party this weekend. What were you doing there? I was just hanging out.

lauren said...

Ew. Don't think I would have been able to try the chicken livers!

Brock said...

1. Remember in the Making of Cat People documentary when Paul Schrader said the leopards and panthers think of children as "rumaki?"

2. Did you know Mad Men actress January Jones was named after the character January Wayne in Jacqueline's novel Once Is Not Enough?

3. Love your house-dress. i smell Rosemary's Baby!!!!

Cass said...

Love this post!

Anonymous said...

You are very brave. I love this post. Your rumaki looked great -- just as I remember them. I think you should do a whole month of chicken liver recipes. xoxox Dadbers

Andrea said...

The drink looks appealing?

The818 said...

I skipped the livers, but the water chestnut/bacon combo was DELICIOUS and fulfilled this week's bacon craving. You're an artist!

Larrupin said...

Now why didn't I think of that? And now that I am (thinking of that) I'm thinking about using shrimp instead. Maybe with a little jalapeno?

Amelia Morris said...

shrimp, jalapeno, and bacon? sounds delicious!

Anonymous said...

to avoid burning the toothpicks soak them in water for an hour before skewering the Rumaki.
rumaki is a rich, balsnced appetizer that whets the appetite when prepared correctly.
a 100g (3.5 ox)serving of chicken liver provides more than half of the dietary reference intake, or DRI, for iron.
a cooked 3.5 oz serving of chicken liver contains 172 calories, more than 100 of which come from protein. One serving of chicken liver contains 25.8g of protein, which provides more than 40 percent of the DRI for protein. Chicken liver is a complete protein because it contains all of the essential amino acids, which are those that your body cannot produce.
Chicken livers also supply large amounts of many vitamins. One serving supplies more than 100 percent of the DRI for vitamin A and four of the B vitamins -- folate, pantothenic acid, riboflavin and B12. One serving also provides more than 50 percent of the DRI for choline, vitamin B6 and niacin, which are also water-soluble B vitamins.

rumaki is balanced because it contains ALL five elements of taste: sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umani.

rumaki can be made with chicken breast, figs, dates, shrimp, surimi, and goat.

but made with chicken livers it provides the most health benefit.

Anonymous said...

there are many low salt, reduced fat alternatives to bacon.
turkey bacon for one.
apple can also be used.
there are low salt versions of soy sauce.
orange zest is great in the marinade.
the water chestnut provides a wonderful snap to the soft texture of the chicken liver.
it does not have to be marinated.
when not marinated it provides a fresh clean crunch int contrast to the rick buttery chicken liver.
the balance of fat, protein, salt and sour is a classic recipe for appetizers to fulfill their purpose which is to stimulate the appetite for them rest of the food.

Anonymous said...

sophisticated palates appreciate and enjoy rumaki when correctly prepared with care.