Liver And Onions
The basic classic and very British dish of liver and onions is an absolute delight to eat when the liver is cooked to perfection. The liver itself should be slightly pink in the middle and then the meat dissolves like velvet in your mouth. Accompanied with some fried onions to give a little crunch and texture.
The perfect cheap dinner idea as liver us often underused and people have a misconception about it. Offal in general has bad press and the younger generation do not realise what a treat they are missing. My grandparents always ate offal through there lives. It was cheap back then just after the war years and its still very cheap today.
What is The Best Liver To Cook
Lambs liver is the best liver to cook for me. It always seems to have a much softer melt in you mouth texture than the other available livers you can get. However veal liver is also very nice but comes at a higher price and is good for special dishes.
What types of liver are available for cooking. Well if you think of any animal we get meat from then the offal is also available to eat from the same animal.
- 150g of Lambs liver per person
- 1/2 onion person
- 25g of White cabbage per person
- 10g of smoked diced bacon pp
- 10g of frozen peas pp
- 50ml of cream
- 1 tsp of French mustard
- Salt & Pepper
- Knob of Butter
- Splash of Oil
Cut the liver into bite size pieces (remove any tough sinew and remove any excess blood)
Slice the onions and cabbage
Add the oil and butter to the frying pan, once melted add the onions
Fry for around 3 minutes on a medium heat then add the bacon pieces.
Once the bacon pieces start to brown and release the fat (around 2 minutes add the cabbage)
Cook until the cabbage starts to get lightly browned on the edges and has started to soften
Ensure you season with salt and pepper every time you add something to the pan.
Now add the frozen peas and once the pan is hot again
Now add your diced lambs liver and cook until it is golden brown all over.
Now add the cream to the pan along with the mustard
allow to reduce and thicken for a few minutes
Serve with potatoes or rice
Lambs liver is best for this recipe, if you are using pork or beef liver pre soak the liver for a couple of hours in milk to reduce the bitterness. You could use gravy stock for this recipe instead of the cream. If you do dredge your liver in seasoned flour first before frying to help thicken the gravy.
Types Of Liver To Eat and Cook
- Lambs Liver
- Calfs Liver
- Pork Liver
- Beef Liver
- Chicken Liver
- Duck or Goose Liver (Fois Gras)
What Is the Best Way To Cook Liver and How do You Cook Liver
For me the best way to cook liver is to fry it. A small piece of butter and a splash of oil so the butter doesn’t burn. On a medium to high heat so it sears the liver quickly to retain all the moisture. Once the bottom is sear and has started to brown turn over the liver and sear the other side. Ideally you want the liver to remain a little pink in the middle. Overcooking the liver can make it dry. Press the live with your fingers to test how well it is cooked like you would steak. The finger test
There are other ways of course to cook liver. Some people soak the liver in milk for a couple of hours before cooking it. This mainly applies to pigs liver as it is so much more bitter than lambs liver. You can also dredge the liver in some seasoned flour before cooking as the flour then helps to thicken the gravy if you wish to serve it that way. If you don’t mind your liver being a little overcooked a simple method is to throw it all in a pot and pop it in the oven. Slice the onions, cut up the liver place into a small casserole dish and cover with gravy, done.
Is Liver and Onions a British Dish
Surprisingly until I researched this dish of liver and onions I thought it was a very British dish. However it is loved by many different nationalities. The germans seem to love a little plate of liver and onions. The German liver and onions is usually served with boiled or mashed potatoes. The French make their liver and onion dish with butter and Bacon. Of course the Spanish make their liver and onions with olives oil and garlic.
Fegato alla Veneziana is the Italian name for their liver and onions which includes a dash of red wine to the mixture. Or you could go for and the fegato alla Romana which is liver and onions cooked in lard. Portugal, Brazil and other Latin American countries (Spanish influence) all have there own particular twist on this tasty offal dish. Even America has its places where liver and onion is enjoyed. However this is mainly in regions that have strong German culture like Pennsylvania. (Source Wiki)
Fois Gras Duck Or Goose Liver
Duck and Goose liver has its own section as its very different from the other livers you can buy. Firstly it is very expensive and considered a luxury item. Secondly the fois gras is forced fed to make the livers expand and a bred only for that purpose. Where as all the others are a by product of the animal that is slaughtered.
France is the main producer and consumer of Fois Gras around the world and have been for centuries. The practice of force feeding birds to fatten them for the plate dates back to Egyptian times. You may not agree with it entirely but it happens all the time with many different animals. If you have never tried Fois Gras I suggest that at least once in your life you should. Its texture is unlike anything you have ever had before and the richness can be heady at times. They go great with a good steak or even made into a moose, just try once.
Are There Health Benefits To Eating Liver
Yes there is health benefits to eating liver, it is packed full of iron, rich in protein and low in calories. Not only that it also has vitamins and minerals including, B12, Vitamin A, Riboflavin, folate and copper. You could class it as a superfood as it is packed with some many healthy benefits.
What To Serve With Your Offal
As I mentioned earlier the Germans serve mashed potato with their liver dish and I have to agree that when the onions and gravy mix with the mash its heavenly. In Brazil they serve it with other mashed root vegetables. any potato dish like dauphinoise potatoes or boulangere potatoes would work very well.
Rice is another great accompaniment to this liver dish, something to soak up the gravy. Any grain based side is good, couscous or even plain fried chips.
Pate Chicken Livers
Pate, a world of flavours just limited by you imagination. I don’t think I have ever eaten chicken livers by themselves, it has always been with something added as in pate. If I ever see any bargin (reduced) pork, especially fatty pork I grab a tub of frozen chicken livers. Cook the pork in the pan with a selection of herbs from the garden and chopped into small pieces. Then fry the chicken livers well seasoned, pop it all into a blender and you have made your own pate. Keep some in the fridge and cut the rest into slices and place in your freezer for later.
So chicken livers blended are the perfect texture and carrier of other flavours. If you haven’t made your own yet its time you started. Add some orange, add some mushrooms or even some brandy to the mix. The combinations of pate you could make at home are endless.
Revamp On The Classic Liver And Onions
Of course with anything on cheap dinner ideas it has to start with what you have to hand and cheap. I did not want to stray away from the classic liver and onions so the onions stayed in the dish. Cabbage is usually value for money and you can do so many thing with it, so cabbage for the crunchy firm texture. Up next another meaty flavour, smoked bacon lardons or simply slice a rasher of bacon. Then some frozen peas to add a little more colour to the dish.
The gravy for the liver and onions, well I didn’t really want gravy so I decided on using a little cream this time. Then to add more flavour and the acidity to cut into the rich cream I added French mustard. I use this sauce for many a dish and it goes very well with salmon. My daughter would eat almost anything if its served with this sauce.
Other Great Cuts Of Offal
Once you have tried the delights of Liver and onions you may be tempted to try some other offal dishes. Kidney is a very tasty cut, especially when inside a steak and kidney pie. Tripe is another underused cut of offal, I can remember as a child eating tripe with vinegar and salt and pepper. I could never bring myself to eat cooked tripe with onions, only as a cold dish.
Faggots, the ultimate in using up all the offal of an animal containing heart, liver the fatty belly meat and added herbs. There are many hearty pieces of offal, do you have a favourite ? Another underused piece of meat is the ham hock, full of flavour and has so many uses.