Friday, July 16, 2010

The Secrets for Tender Liver and Onions

I grew up in blissful ignorance of the hatred of liver and onions. Oh, I'd heard jokes about people disliking liver, but I thought it was just bad kids on TV who didn't like it. I loved it. I couldn't imagine anyone not liking it.

Fast forward a bunch of years, and I told my then-boyfriend that I was making liver and onions for dinner for us. He gave me an odd little look, but didn't say anything.

That night, he didn't look enthusiatic when dinner got to the table, but he sat down anyway. A guy's got to eat.

He took put some on his plate with a resigned expression on his face. And then he started eating, and his expression changed.

And then he asked me what it was.

"Liver and onions."

"But...but...I can stick a fork in it...I can cut it with a knife! I don't even need a knife! I can cut it with a fork! What is this, really?"

I had no idea what he was going on about. I'd only eaten liver and onions cooked one way. I'd learned it from my mother, and that was how I cooked it that night. It seemed perfectly normal to me, but he was going on like I'd turned hamburger helper into beef wellington.

Later, he confessed that he never liked liver before. The only liver he'd ever eaten was tough and chewy. This was the first time he'd ever had a tender piece of liver, and from that moment on, it became one of his favorite meals.

And of course I joke that he married me just because of that meal of liver and onions.

Once in a while I modify the recipe just a little. Sometimes I cut the liver in small slices, sometimes I add mushrooms or green peppers. This last time, I added some precooked baby potatoes to the onions, just to heat them up. But for the most part, the recipe stays the same. Because I like tender liver.

The secret to tender liver is pretty simple.

First, coat the liver lightly with some flour. You can season the flour if you want, but I generally leave it plain. Some cayenne might be nice, though.

Second, cook it hot and fast. By the time the outside is browned, the inside is cooked. If you're not sure it's cooked, cut it open and peek inside. It should be just cooked through, but not cooked to death. A little pink is fine.

Since liver cooks so fast, there's no way you can start cooking the liver and onions at the same time. It's best to cook the onions first at a lower temperature (with a little salt and pepper) so they soften nicely and brown just a little, the remove them from the pan. Then raise the heat and cook the liver.

You can add the onions back to the pan at the end if they need a little warming, or just let them mingle on your serving plate.


kayenne said...

i love liver!!! i prefer chicken or pork. -> onions, a couple slices of ginger, a bit of garlic, bayleaf, the liver, a touch of soy sauce and sometimes, a splash of vinegar and a bit of water. cayenne and ground black pepper are almost nice. and plain white rice. comfort food!

carswell said...

I love liver as well - but friends that do are in short supply. Fortunately I have one girlfriend who likes liver as much as I do. We get together on a regular basis for cookfests - we both live alone and will do a communal cook on the weekend to give us lunches and dinners throughout the week.

All that's a long way of saying that we periodically do a bunch of chicken livers. Sometimes we do the traditional liver and onions combo - but we've branched out.

Recently we discovered that dredging the livers in a mixture of flour and an aromatic garam masala and then cooking them quickly on a cast iron pan placed on the barbecue is heaven on earth for liver lovers. The outside is crispy and seared, the inside tender and pink and the mixture of Indian spices is especially appealing with the sweetness of the chicken livers.

If you make a lot, leftovers can be pureed with some butter for a really rich pate.

Rocquie said...

I was drawn in by your photograph on Photograzing. Although I do not eat liver, my husband would be thrilled if I cooked it for him. Can he have dinner with you the next time you make it?

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