EATS: You brought’er; You liver!

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January 18, 2013 by annmquintero

I can’t help myself. I love those jokes. Especially when they make no sense.

Head Amazon Dar made a special request this past week. She wanted to try liver. We set a day and she picked up some beautiful, grass-fed, organic beef liver cut into 3-4oz slices. Perfect portioning for pan seared liver. She also snagged some onions, bacon, mushrooms, and asparagus for pan roasting. And I brought the leftover cauliflower purée from last week’s post.

Now, I grew up on liver back in the midwest. I especially liked it pan-fried with onions and bacon or in the form of liverwurst. Yum! But I recognize that liver is not familiar to everyone. And quite frankly, it has a very strong and distinct flavor and texture. I can smell liver cooking from a mile off. Organ meats are embraced by the paleo community for their nutritional and economical prowess, but they take some getting used to. Just as a point of interest, liver is very high in protein, iron, folate, zinc, and B vitamins, so that nutritional validity is worth noting. And at $4/lb for the good stuff? ‘Nuff said.

I’m not going to lie to you, Amazons. It looks like Dar and beef liver are going to be admirers from a distance. Even smothered in onions and bacon, it just didn’t hit right. And I can’t blame her for it. Offal is a taste often acquired with difficulty later in life. We may make future attempts with other organs or other preparations, but I think we’ll just accept this as a Mulligan.

But that is not to say that you shouldn’t try it! You absolutely should! Get yourself a small portion from your trusted butcher and give it a shot! You may like it!

What you’ll need:

Big skillet
Spatula
Knife
Cutting board

Beef liver, 3-4oz. per serving
Bacon, 2 slices per serving
Onion, sliced
Button mushrooms, 8oz., sliced
Balsamic vinegar, for deglazing the pan
Salt and pepper

Onions, bacon, mushrooms, YUM!

Onions, bacon, mushrooms, YUM!

Start by cooking the bacon in your skillet over medium-low heat. Be patient. You want to get as much of of the fat rendered as you can. This will be your cooking fat for the rest of it.

While the bacon is cooking, slice up your onion and your mushrooms. Check over your liver for any knobbly bits your butcher may have missed. Holes are ok, but tough parts are not. I won’t lie, the liver is going to be slimy and weird. Power through it.  Salt and pepper both sides of each piece.

When the bacon is crisp, remove and set aside. Also set the bacon renderings to the side in a heatproof vessel, reserving a tablespoon in the pan which we’ll use for the onions and mushrooms. Add onions and mushrooms to the pan. Kick the heat up to medium/medium high. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to draw out moisture.

A word about deglazing: Deglazing the pan is a technique used to pull up any brown burny bits that get stuck to the bottom of a pan during cooking. Sometimes it’s just to keep it from getting smoky, on-fire burny, and sometimes it’s to collect for consumption all that tasty goodness that would fall prey to your scrubby sponge otherwise. It really is just this; adding liquid of any kind to a dry, hot pan with the intention of lifting solids that are attached to the pan. It can be broth, wine, vinegar, water, anything! A word of caution, I used balsamic vinegar and water alternately throughout this cooking process, but Dar had a rough time with the hot vinegar. This is not unheard of. Be mindful of your own sensitivities and don’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable.

Once the veggies are brown and soft, set to the side. If you have a second pan, heat the bacon drippings in it. You want to make sure your pan is good and hot before you start adding the liver. A thin piece of liver will take very little time to cook and you want it to get a really good, hard sear on the outside. As always: Browning = Flavor!

Depending on how thin your pieces are, I would guess about 1.5 minutes per side. When you cut into it, it should be a little pink in the center, but not dark. Over-cooked liver tends to be tough and chalky in texture. Remove the cooked liver to the side and let it rest for a few minutes. If you cut into it and it’s not quite done, just slap it back in the pan for another minute or two.

IMG_0220When plating, smother the liver with the already cooked onions and mushrooms, and top with bacon. To complete the meal, we had pan-roasted asparagus spears in a little bacon grease, sprinkled with salt and pepper and the remaining cauliflower mash. I’ll do a more detailed post on asparagus another time.

Because Dar wasn’t feeling the liver, I headed home with a lot of leftovers. A perfect opportunity to repurpose something that doesn’t really do “the day after” very well.  So, you get a quick and dirty bonus liver recipe!!

Beef liver pâté

Large high sided skillet
Food processor

Beef liver, 6-8oz
Fat of choice, 1 tablespoon (I used bacon drippings)
Roasted garlic, 4-6 cloves (You could also use fresh, minced.)
Red wine, 1 cup (Yes, I know it’s not Whole30. You can use pomegranate juice and/or beef stock instead.)
Tarragon, 1 tablespoon, dried
Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon
Butter, 3 tablespoons
Parsley, a bunch
Salt and pepper, to taste

Bubbling away with garlic in the center.

Bubbling away with garlic in the center.

You can either start from raw liver for this or use any leftover pan-seared liver from the above recipe. Heat the liver in the pan with your fat of choice. (If you’re starting from raw, make sure it’s got a good hard sear on it to start.) Once it’s sizzling, add the roasted garlic and the wine/juice/stock. Add the tarragon, and Worcestershire, and let the liquid reduce for a few minutes, turning the liver from time to time, to make sure it’s soaking up the liquid.

Once the liquid has reduced to a syrupy consistency, transfer everything to your food processor, solids first, followed by the syrup. Purée. Just let it go. Once it’s

Meaty.

Meaty.

been beaten to a paste, add the butter and the parsley and continue processing. In place of the butter, you could use duck fat or olive oil, but I think the texture and flavor of butter are best for taming the gaminess of beef liver. Remember to keep tasting and adding salt and pepper as desired. Freshly ground black pepper should add a nice spicy, floral accent.

Serve with celery or carrots at room temperature.

I know we’ve had a lot of posts with less popular food items lately, Amazons, but don’t be discouraged. Next week we’ll have our first installment of Cooking With the Amazons, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with what we made!

Want to get in on the fun? Comment below or email me at EATS@urbanamazon.net!

(If this is your first time reading EATS, I encourage you to check out the Introductions post for my philosophy and list of must-have kitchen items.)

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