Any Traditional Foods/Weston A. Price groupie worth her weight in raw pastured butter knows how incomparably valuable the stuff is. It’s practically nutritional gold. Organ meats are some of the most nutrient-dense foods available to humans, and for that reason have been considered sacred to many traditional cultures. It’s especially wonderful for pregnant women or couples trying to conceive, as it’s packed with beneficial nutrients for growing babies (like folate, iron, zinc, and vitamins A, D, B6 and B12. It’s also a great source of protein, and contains riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, copper and selenium. In other words: it’s pretty friggin’ amazing.)
Liver is also a frugal choice — it’s usually quite inexpensive. And being able to use the whole beast reduces waste.
Just too bad it tastes so darn awful.
Or does it?
My Conversion from Liver Hater to Enthusiast
I have never like beef liver.
Now I am not a picky eater. I will eat just about anything. Exotic, spicy, sour, bitter, fermented . . . I just love food. Vegetables, seafood, meat, grains, dairy, all of it. Thai, Mexican, Lebanese, Greek, Italian . . . YUM. All different textures, all different flavours. You’d be hard-pressed to find something I wouldn’t eat. And I love trying new things and experimenting in the kitchen.
And I’m not particularly squeamish, either — I can eat other organ meats just fine. I’m actually quite fond of chicken liver, and I grew up fighting my siblings for chicken hearts and stomachs.
But I’ve just never cared for beef liver. I just couldn’t get past that bitter, metallic flavour and stringy texture.
My mom used to make a stew with liver, tomatoes, and corn, and I always wanted to cry when I heard it was for dinner. It was torture having to eat that stuff.
But I know how good it is for me. And I have access to more pastured beef liver than anyone could dream of wanting: my parents raise their own beef cattle, and every year we get half a beef. It typically comes with a package or two of liver (as well as soup bones, tongue, and kidney, if we ask for it.)
This last year, I ended up with EIGHT packages of liver. Holy smokes!
But what to do with the stuff to make it edible?
I tried for years to like it, to no avail.
Until I tried (Not Your Average) Liver and Onions from Edible Aria.
This recipe changed my life.
Not only could I stomach it; I loved it! It was delicious!
My husband and two-year-old daughter agree. I have made this dish three times in the last year or so, and each time we have all happily cleared our plates and gone for seconds. I could not believe this was the same thing I had hated for so many years.
The original recipe is rather vague in its quantities and instructions, so I thought I’d offer a more precise and thorough version (with minor tweaks).
If you eat it with an open mind, I think you will be amazed. Unless you don’t like mushrooms or bacon, in which case I can’t help you.
It is my opinion that every ingredient in this recipe is essential to making it delicious. But especially the sage, bacon (LOTS of bacon), fresh parsley (it MUST be fresh), and mushrooms. You just need them.
Also: In the past I have rinsed my sliced liver with water and then soaked it in a small amount of milk for about half an hour. Legend has it that this gets rid of the strong organ-y flavour. I thought it was really effective — it came out really mild-tasting. But then this last time I skipped the soaking, and couldn’t really tell the difference. But if you really want to avoid the strong flavour, you can always try it. It can’t hurt. Just be sure to drain it and dry well with paper towel after so it will fry well.
Also be sure to remove as much of the outer membrane as possible. As you slice, you generally can peel it off. It helps eliminate any funky texture.
Beef Liver with Bacon, Mushrooms and Sage
- 1 pkg liver (about 1 ½ lb), sliced
- 1 cup flour (any kind)
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 pkg bacon, roughly chopped (about 12 oz)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 8oz mushrooms, sliced
- 6 fresh sage leaves, coarsely chopped (or a tsp of dried)
- Small bunch parsley, coarsely chopped
- 2 Tbsp butter
- Lard or tallow as needed
Mix salt, flour, and pepper in a large plate; set aside. (You will be dredging the liver in this, but you don’t want to do it too early.)
Fry bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add onion to pan and continue to cook in bacon fat until well browned. Remove with a slotted spoon (just add it to the cooked bacon you’ve set aside).
Add butter to the hot pan and combine with the remaining bacon fat. Add mushrooms and sauté until they begin to crisp on the edges. (Add lard or tallow as needed). Remove from pan.
Meanwhile, lightly dredge liver in flour mixture.
Make sure that the skillet is still good and hot, then add strips of floured liver and fry in batches until crispy. When it’s all fried, add everything back to pan along with sage and parsley. Cook until liver is cooked through.
Sprinkle with a little more parsley and be amazed that this fantastic dish contains more nutrients than you can count on your fingers.