We are well aware that offal is not for everyone, but it’s cheap and if you know what you’re doing you can turn out some incredible dishes using things like liver. I didn’t grow up eating liver but developed a taste for it later in life when money was tight. On an episode of Iron Chef, Chairman Kaga said that the secret with liver is to “give it heavy makeup”. This is quite true, as it has a strong flavour which can, indeed, be a little off-putting if you are not used to it. Knowing how to prepare liver and matching it with strong flavours like rich brown sauces, bacon, onions, garlic, and herbs like thyme, sage and rosemary really help to make liver more appealing. Although, poultry livers are traditionally matched with more subtle flavourings, like dried fruits and lighter style sauces.
Today I used beef liver, though quite often I use lamb livers as well because of their availability in Australia. Pig’s (which have a very strong flavour) and calf’s liver (the Rolls Royce of offal) are generally not sold in Australian supermarkets. So, feel free to use your own favourite type wherever you are in the world.
To further help it’s palatability slice the liver very thinly (3-5mm is good) and then wash it in several changes of salted cold water. Once you have washed away most of the blood and the water is reasonably clear, drain the liver slices and pat them dry with paper towels. Another method is to wash the liver slices in water and then leave them covered in milk for a number of hours in the fridge – even overnight. Remove the liver slices from the milk, pat dry and use. This all but removes any strong odour from the liver. Here’s the full recipe!
Ingredients – recipe by Canaan Perry
200g beef liver, very finely sliced
seasoned flour for dusting (i.e. flour mixed with salt and pepper)
1 rasher of bacon, diced
1 large onion, sliced into crescents (half rings)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 heaped teaspoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
oil, butter or lard for frying
1 cup water
2 teaspoons chicken or beef stock powder
handful of fresh sage leaves
chopped parsley to garnish
- Preheat oven to 160C.
- In a large frying pan, heat some oil, butter or lard, and fry the bacon over medium heat until crisp.
- Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Dust the liver slices in the seasoned flour and brown quickly on each side. Add more oil if neccasary. Set aside.
- Add the onions to the pan, adding more oil if required, and saute for about 10 minutes on medium heat until lightly browned. Season the onions as you go with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, lay the liver out in a ceramic baking dish (in one layer).
- Back to the frying pan… return the bacon to the onions.
- Take a couple of tablespoons of your seasoned flour and mix it into the onions and bacon. Cook for a few minutes, or until it starts to take on a light brown.
- Add the tomato paste, mixing in well.
- Add the stock powder and water and mix well with a whisk.
- Add the crushed garlic and the vinegar. Bring to the boil.
- Check the seasoning before pouring this mix over the liver slices.
- Sprinkle sage leaves across the top.
- Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, and bake at 160C for 30 minutes, or until the liver is tender.
- When ready, remove from oven and garnish with chopped parsley.
Serve on buttered toast or fresh bread.