Italian-Style Beef Liver

What a morning it’s been!  I cannot wait until Sunday (if the Mayans let us get that far in the week, of course).  What’s wrong with Saturday, you ask?  Well, for one thing, it’s the day I hit the Big 5-0, and it’s also the day we have our annual office holiday party – unfortunately, the only Saturday everyone in the office was available.  Not that we don’t enjoy it, because we do, but it’s stressful to prepare for, and I’m already feeling the pressure.

Ah, well…we’re taking the week between Christmas and New Year’s off – well, that’s the plan, anyway – so hopefully we’ll get some kind of downtime soon.

I’m also sorry to say that my cooking has been somewhat uninspired as of late – again, the stress of the season – and a great many of you are going to be disappointed with today’s recipe. However, I’m fairly confident these days that just as many of you will be happy to see it, simply because you know how good beef liver is for you and how delicious it can be when properly prepared.   And, like me, are happy for recipes other than frying it up with onions and/or bacon.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.

This recipe calls for lightly frying the seasoned beef liver in tallow after dredging it in tapioca flour, then simmering it in tomato sauce and beef stock with some tasty vegetables and spices until a nice sauce has formed and the liver is tender.  It really is delicious – there’s nothing “livery” about the dish at all, and even The Young One ate it with much enthusiasm.  As for the name, I don’t have the slightest clue if this is a legitimately Italian preparation of beef liver, but -hey.  It seemed like a good thing to call a really good dish.

The recipe doesn’t call for it, but you can soak or marinate the liver in coconut milk (or regular milk, if you have no issues with dairy), or even a good Italian dressing before cooking to mitigate the strong flavor.  If you’re just squeamish about beef liver, this would probably work just as well with 2 pounds of cleaned chicken livers.  And it’s Whole30 compliant, to boot.

Italian-Style Beef Liver

Italian-Style Beef Liver

Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds beef liver, cut into thin strips
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 4 tablespoons tallow, or other fat suitable for frying
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 pint tomato sauce
  • 1 pint beef stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 cup sliced sweet peppers
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
Instructions
  1. Season the liver lightly with the salt and pepper; dredge in the tapioca and shake to remove the excess.
  2. Heat the tallow in a large heavy skillet over high heat and fry the liver, working in batches if necessary, until browned, 2 to 3 minutes; remove to a plate and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium low and sauté the onion and celery until the onion is soft but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the sliced peppers and garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the beef stock, scraping all the brown bits off the bottom, then stir in the tomato sauce, oregano and thyme. Add the beef liver back to the pan, with the accumulated pan juices.
  4. Simmer the simmer the liver, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary before serving.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 367 calories, 14.4g total fat, 425.1mg cholesterol, 704.7mg sodium, 1002.9mg potassium, 24.6g carbohydrates, 2.7g fiber, 5.7g sugar, 34.1g protein

Chopped Liver

The next time someone asks you, “Well, what am I – chopped liver?” tell them yes, and make sure they know it’s a compliment.

I’ve been meaning to make this for some time, but just got around to it this weekend, in the midst of the last of the Fall canning (9 pints of applesauce, 8 half pints of apple butter, 10 half pints of watermelon pickles, and 12 pints of roast turkey), which I am extremely glad is finally OVER.  Oh, I may do some squash at some point if it looks like they’re not going to hold up for the winter, but until that point I don’t care if I see either the pressure or water bath canner until next summer.

Stick a fork in me, I’m done.

Anyhoo, I have beaucoup chicken livers in the freezer as well as some lovely schmaltz I rendered from the last batch of chickens we received from our poultry farmer – to say nothing of more eggs than we really know what to do with right now – so chopped liver it was.  I have to tell you, I don’t know why it took me so long to make this stuff, because Holy Mother of Pearl – it. Is. GOOD.

It looks a bit like Alpo, yes, but. It. Is. GOOD.

It’s also pretty darn easy.  You give the chicken livers a quick sauté, cook the onions until they’re almost caramelized, toss it all in the food processor and give it a couple of pulses, and mix it all up with some chopped hard-boiled eggs.  Then you eat it.

And eat it.

And eat it.

And make dinner of it, because it. Is. GOOD.

Traditionally, chopped liver is served as a spread for matzo and other crackers or breads.  Of course, we don’t eat either crackers or breads, and I was just going to eat mine with a fork until Beloved got the brilliant idea to thinly slice some Fuji apples.  And I have to tell you, it was just delicious that way – who needs bread?  Pears would also be a great option.

The recipe says 12 servings, and that is as an appetizer – if you want to eat it as a meal, the way we did, it will probably serve 5 or six.  If you don’t have any rendered chicken fat, ghee would be a delicious substitute.

Chopped Liver
Chopped Liver
Chopped Liver

Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken livers, cleaned and cut in half
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups onion, diced
  • 6 tablespoons chicken fat, divided
  • 3 large hard-boiled eggs, chopped
Instructions
  1. Season chicken livers with salt and pepper. Heat 3 tablespoons of the chicken fat in a heavy, 12″ skillet over medium-high heat; add the chicken livers and sauté until they are browned, but still slightly pink in the center, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside; discard the pan juices.
  2. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of chicken fat to the skillet and reduce the heat to low. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and golden brown, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the reserved chicken livers.
  3. Place the livers and onions in the bowl of a food processor and gently pulse until the mixture is finely chopped; transfer to a bowl large enough to hold the mixture.
  4. Add the chopped eggs to the chopped liver mixture and stir gently to combine; taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.
  5. Serve at room temperature or chilled with apple or pear slices.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 160 calories, 10.5g total fat, 247.7mg cholesterol, 57.4mg sodium, 204.6mg potassium, 4.3g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 1.8g sugar, 11.6g protein

 

Crispy Fried Chicken Livers

Warning:  This recipe could be dangerous to your health.

Bet you never thought you’d see that here, did you?

No, it’s not the chicken livers; if you’ve been hanging around here any length of time at all, you know I love me some variety meats (I may be making another tongue this weekend, or maybe a beef heart – aren’t you excited?).  And the chicken livers I used to make this dish were just about as fresh as they could be – they were residing in their pastured owners a mere 6 hours earlier.

Our poultry farmer raises not only laying hens, but broilers as well – you can drive up to his front door any afternoon and see the laying hens running amok around the barnyard (and lately, the apple trees), and the broilers in their covered pens in whichever field he has them that day.  If you’re lucky, there will be turkeys, too, and you can go out and say howdy to Thanksgiving dinner, as well.

He processes six times a summer; while they keep their laying hens year-round, they only raise the broilers in the summer, since they don’t do so well in cold weather – they just won’t grow, since all of their energy is used to keep themselves warm.  At any rate, we get six chickens each time they process and cozy them up in the freezer with our pork, beef, goat and venison, if we’re lucky enough to be gifted a deer (and have I mentioned I’m trying to source a llama?).  We often order the feet from the birds for our homemade chicken stock, and we’ll take livers if we can get them, too.

We got them yesterday, and I made this. Which is why I’ve added a warning to go along with it.

It seems that because chicken livers have so much moisture they cause the fat in your pan to splatter and splash – sometimes very violently.  And do I have a splatter screen?  I do not.

I do however, have a lot of burn ointment.

It was very much worth it, though, because these were absolutely wonderful.  I wanted seconds, which is rare for me, and I practically had to fight not only Beloved, but The Young One as well, to get some – you should have seen the kid wolf these things down.  Chicken livers have a much, much milder flavor than beef liver, and these were just so fresh and tender it was amazing.  I served them with homemade barbecue sauce, but next time I think I’ll do a nice (dairy free) pan gravy.

Yum, yum.

Crispy Fried Chicken Livers
Crispy Fried Chicken Livers
Crispy Fried Chicken Livers
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 pound chicken livers, cleaned and cut in half
  • 1 1/2 cups tapioca flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 2 cups tallow or other fat suitable for frying
Instructions
  1. Whisk the eggs, coconut milk and water together in a large mixing bowl. Drop the livers in the egg/milk mixture; cover loosely and allow to sit for about half an hour.
  2. In a large, shallow dish, stir together the tapioca flour, baking soda, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Drain the egg/milk mixture from the chicken livers, and dredge them in the seasoned tapioca flour.
  3. Heat the tallow in a heavy skillet – preferably cast iron – over high heat until it reaches 350 F. Reduce the heat to medium.
  4. Fry the chicken livers, in batches if necessary, for 6 to 7 minutes, carefully turning once halfway through – cover the skillet with a splatter screen, because the fat will splash and splatter.
  5. Remove the livers to paper towels and drain briefly. Serve with barbecue sauce, hot sauce or salsa if desired.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 452 calories, 33.4g total fat, 442.4mg cholesterol, 1269.4mg sodium, 307.2mg potassium, 16.4g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, <1g sugar, 20.4g protein

 

Barbecued Beef Liver

Happy Monday, everyone!  Vacation, alas, is over; all the kids are back in their respective cities in their respective states, and we’re back to our normal routines.  Which in a way is a relief (for all of us).

We had a good time, but I think my biggest coup of the last 12 days was serving Darling Daughter beef liver for the first time.  I’ve always loved it, but I never served it to my family until recently because every time I suggested it, people would scream in horror and flee the room.  This left me feeling, perhaps incorrectly, that no one would eat it so I just never made it.

I guess my kids have become more adventurous eaters as adults, because when I suggested liver for dinner one night Darling Daughter said she’d be more than happy to try it.  I made my (up until now) favorite braised beef liver dish – sorry, you’ll need to wait for the cookbook if I ever finish the beastly thing to get the recipe – and she LOVED it.  I was so thrilled, and wished that I’d had the opportunity to make it for Oldest Son, as well.

At any rate, you may have noticed that I said the braised beef liver recipe was my favorite.  While it’s really very tasty, I believe this recipe has replaced it.  Oh, my goodness, this is good.  I owe a big hearty “Thank you!” to Richard Nikoley of Free The Animal for mentioning this recipe in a recent post, and linking to the recipe he used.  There are many reviews on the original recipe praising it, saying the final dish tastes nothing like liver, and I have to concur – if the thought of eating beef liver elicits the “ewwww” response in you, give this a whirl.  It is just too good for words.

Now, if you look at the original recipe, you’ll see it calls for ingredients I just don’t use any more, so I did a fair amount of tweaking and will probably continue to, so don’t be surprised if you see an update to this later on.  Or a different version in the elusive cookbook.

Note:  The recipe doesn’t call for marinating or soaking the liver, and it may not need it, but I soaked it in undiluted coconut milk (you can use whole milk if you prefer) for about an hour before cooking it just to be on the safe side.

Barbecued Beef Liver
Barbecued Beef Liver
Barbecued Beef Liver
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound beef liver, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces bacon, chopped
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or clarified butter
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/?p=12704″ target=”_blank”]ketchup[/url]
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Stir together the tapioca flour with the salt and pepper in a shallow dish or pie plate. Set aside.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the water, ketchup, maple syrup, vinegar, tamari and garlic powder. Set aside.
  3. Cook the bacon over low heat in a heavy skillet until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels, leaving the fat in the skillet. Add the onions and cook, also on low, until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Remove the onions with a slotted spoon to the paper towels with the bacon.
  4. Increase the heat to medium high and add the ghee to the skillet. Dredge the liver in the seasoned tapioca flour and brown in the skillet, about a minute per side, in batches if necessary. Return the onion and bacon to the pan and pour the sauce mixture over the liver, bacon and onions. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the liver is tender, about 15 minutes.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 407 calories, 20.3g total fat, 339.1mg cholesterol, 721.5mg sodium, 584.4mg potassium, 27.3g carbohydrates, 1.1g fiber, 12g sugar, 27.3g protein

 

Lenguas

Warning:  This posts contains graphic images.  If you’re squeamish, come back tomorrow, when I’ll be all peace, love and farmer’s markets.

In the meantime – Chuck, this post is for you.  Ask, and ye shall (eventually) receive.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that since we’ve been buying our meat from local farmers, in bulk, we’ve become a bit more adventurous with our meals.  And I’m glad, because some of this stuff I’d never have thought to eat – mostly because you can’t find things neck bones and oxtails and marrow bones at your average grocery store – is also some of the tastiest stuff I’ve ever eaten.  Really.

That being said, I was still a bit nervous about cooking and eating this:

Yes, that would be a beef tongue.  And yes, it’s a tad…well, gross-looking.  Although I have to say far less gross-looking than I expected after researching just how to cook one of these bad boys, and I have my friends at Whitefeather Meats to thank for that – they did an excellent job of trimming the base of the tongue of all the gristle, bone and generally disgusting-looking stuff, something I was going to make Beloved do not looking forward to.

Now, having said all that, I have to tell you that gross-looking or not, it is absurdly simple to cook.  Nearly every recipe I’ve found, including those in my beloved 1972 copy of The Joy of Cooking, calls for boiling it whole, then dressing it up.  So that’s what I did – I dropped it in a large pot of boiling salted water and an hour later pulled it out, then that sucker peeled just like a banana.

Hey – don’t say I didn’t warn you.

In all fairness, once cooked and sliced (or diced, as in this recipe), it looked far more appetizing:

See, isn’t that better?  It looks pretty much like a roast when sliced, and tastes just like one too – a very tender and flavorful roast.  It was, in fact, quite delicious.  Next time, this is where the preparation will end, aside from a sauce or condiment of some sort (I found a Thai preparation of beef tongue I’m just itching to make).  However, we made this into a classic Mexican dish – Lenguas – so I diced and spiced the tongue up before throwing it into my version of a taco shell (the leaves from a heart of romaine) and topping it with a little Corn and Black Bean Salsa, since we had all that corn laying around.

Oh, and did I mention that this 2-pound grass-fed beef tongue would have sold commercially for just over $3?  And if you need any further convincing, The Picky Young One went back for thirds, and that was eating just the lettuce, tongue and cheese.

Note:  You can, of course, substitute the corn and black bean salsa with something grain- and legume-free.

Lenguas

Lenguas

serves 8

2 pounds beef tongue
3 quarts water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/4 cup water
16 leaves romaine lettuce
4 ounces manchego or cheddar cheese, shaved
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 cup sour cream, (optional)
1 cup corn and black bean salsa (optional)

Bring the 3 quarts of water to a boil with the tablespoon of kosher salt in a large stock pot. Add the tongue.  Return to a boil, then lower the temperature to a simmer. Cover and cook just until tender, about an hour.

Drain the tongue and allow to rest just until cool enough to handle – the skin should peel away easily from the base end.

Dice the meat and place in a wide, shallow skillet with the onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper and water. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the tongue is cooked through and the water has evaporated.

Divide the seasoned tongue between the romaine leaves and top with the tomato, cheese, sour cream and salsa (if using).  Serve immediately.

Printable version (requires Adobe Reader)

Posted in participation with Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday