Liver and Onions (and Peppers and Potatoes)
I hear that liver and onions is an acquired taste, but if that’s true I must have acquired it in the womb because I’ve always loved this dish.
The softness of the liver (if it’s cooked right) and the crispy coating on it is my definition of comfort food and plus you get to try a cut of meat that’s kind of uncommon, which is always something I like.
My one problem with the traditional dish is that I could never figure out why people used just onions when they prepare it. So I figured I’d try some other veggies along with the onions and guess what: Improvement!
Liver and Onions
Yield: Serves 4.
1 pound beef liver (calf liver is the best if you can find it), sliced thin
2 Cups milk
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 red pepper, sliced thin
1 green or yellow pepper, sliced thin
2 Russet potatoes, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
3 Tablespoons neutral oil (for cooking veggies)
2 Cups flour
1 Teaspoon paprika
1 Teaspoon dried mustard
Salt and pepper
1/3-1/2 Cup (3/4-1 stick) of unsalted butter (for cooking liver)
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 Cup cream (approx)
Large cast iron skillet (on Amazon)
1) Slice liver 1/4 inch thin and lay in a shallow pan. Cover with milk and let marinate for 20-30 minutes while you prep everything else.
2) Mix flour and spices together in a medium bowl.
3) Slice peppers and onions so they are roughly the same width. Peel and dice potatoes.
4) Add a few Tablespoons neutral oil to a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and add all the veggies. Stir and cook until soft, about 10-15 minutes.
5) Remove veggies to an oven-safe bowl or dish and store in a warm oven (200 degrees) until needed.
6) Take pan off heat while you prep liver. Take liver slices and dredge lightly in flour mixture.
7) Add butter to cast iron skillet and return to medium-high heat.
8) Once butter is melted and hot, add liver slices. Don't crowd the pan. Work in a few batched if you need to. Cook liver for about 90 seconds on each side. Don't overcook it or it will be really rough.
9) Remove liver from pan and turn heat down to low. Add balsamic vinegar and scrape up any bits in the pan. Add cream and stir to combine.
10) Spoon balsamic sauce over liver and veggies and serve immediately.
Preparing the liver
When you get your liver (you’ll probably have to ask your butcher), it most likely won’t be sliced (unless you have a really nice butcher). That’s okay though because liver is really tender and easy to slice. Just be gentle with it and slice up about a pound of it into 1/4 inch thick slices.
If there are any tough tendons or something, just cut them off. Pile your slices in a dish.
Once your liver is sliced, cover the slices with milk and let them marinate for 20-30 minutes. The milk will tenderize the meat and keep it really nice and juicy. It’s not an essential step but I think it’s worth it. It also makes it easier for the flour to stick on later.
While the liver is marinating, get your flour mixture together for coating the liver slices. Add a few cups of flour to a medium bowl along with a good pinch of salt and pepper, some paprika, and dried mustard. You could use a wide variety of spices here, but I wanted to keep mine pretty simple.
Also, wash all your veggies, peel your potatoes, and slice and dice them all up. You’re looking for pretty even slices on the onions and peppers and then a nice even dice on the potatoes.
Cooking the dish
This dish is technically a one-pot dish since it should all be cooked in a nice, sturdy cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
Cook the veggies first by adding a few tablespoons of neutral oil to your cast iron skillet and add the onions, peppers, and potatoes. Cook these for about 10 or 15 minutes until all the veggies are nice and soft. Be sure to test the potatoes as they’ll be the last thing to be nice and tender.
Once your veggies are done, remove them to an oven safe bowl or dish and keep them in a warm oven until we need them (200 degrees).
Back to the liver. Take your skillet off the heat while you prep the liver. Take the slices and lightly dredge them in the flour mixture. Dust off any extra flour and set the slices on a plate. You don’t need a really thick coating for this dish.
Also get out some butter!
Now you could cook these in oil, but there’s something really decadent and delicious about cooking them in butter. This isn’t a time to count calories people, just go with it.
Add about 3/4 of a stick (3 ounces) of butter into your cast iron skillet and crank up the heat to medium-high. Let it melt. It should be bubbling nicely. As an aside, there’s no need to clean out your pan between the veggies and the liver. Any oil leftover will just help cook the liver.
Once the butter is hot, add slices of liver. Don’t overcrowd the pan and make sure the slices aren’t overlapping so they brown nicely.
These don’t need long to cook. About 90 seconds per side should do the trick. Try not to overcook them as liver gets tough pretty quickly when it’s overcooked. When they are done, remove them to a plate to rest.
Making the sauce
The sauce is optional as the liver is pretty good without it, but I figure if you have all this good butter and stuff in a pan, the country of France might come get you if you don’t make a sauce out of it.
This is a really easy sauce to make. Once all your liver is done, turn your heat down to low and add a few Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Use the vinegar to scrape up any little bits stuck to the pan and stir it in with the butter and everything. Then add about 1/4-1/3 Cup of cream and stir it together until it’s combined.
The sauce goes great with the liver and the veggies. Serve this meal as soon as possible!
So I know that this won’t be the most popular dish I’ve ever made, but I really enjoy it.
Any other liver lovers out there? Speak up!