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Liver Nips are not for cats but perhaps a link to our past?

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I don't know how many of you have eaten liver nips as I have only seen them served in the Dutch Fork Counties of South Carolina ( but I'm always surprised that there is nothing new under the sun where food is concerned ). The Dutch Fork area of S.C. was not settled by Dutch but rather the word Dutch was really a misproununciation of the word Deutsch or German. Therefore it is thought that liver nips are probably of Germanic origin. There is also a high concentration of Lutherans living in the counties where liver nips are common. One area associated with liver nips is Saxe Gotha in Lexington County.

Liver nips are a peppery creamed but chunky liver dish that IMHO are fantastic. Anyone who likes liver will love liver nips. I only know of two retaurants in S.C. that serve liver nips on a regular basis. One is the world famous Shealey's in Leesville and the other is The Backporch in Prosperity. I always call ahead to find out when they are available.

I would love to hear from others who have tried liver nips or could provide more information about this unusual dish. Perhaps it's popular in Germany or in many other places outside of S.C. It is amazing to think that food in some instances may be the only remaining link to our heritage. Now that's truly food for thought!

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  1. I've lived most of my life in South Carolina and my alma mater is The University of South Carolina which is in Columbia and I lived there for five years and have never even heard of liver nips. I can trace my family back 200 years in South Carolina and called my mother and she has never heard of them.

    Are you sure someone isn't pulling your leg?

    Creamed liver? No thanks.

    8 Replies
    1. re: BlueHerons
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      Aromatherapy

      Leberknöedel = liver nips. (Courtesy of Google.) See link for more info and a recipe. I love Leberknöedel in soup, will have to try this.

      Link: http://www.knowitall.org/sandlapper/s...

      1. re: Aromatherapy

        If that's what the OP is talking about, it's not creamed liver but liver-stuffed dumplings. (Knödel is German for dumpling.) Much easier to take.

      2. re: BlueHerons
        p
        Paul in S.C.

        I've lived all my life is S.C. as well ( Easley, Spartanburg, Columbia, W. Columbia, and Irmo ) and my alma maters are Wofford and USC. I had never heard of them either until I moved to Lexington County. They may not exist outside of Lexington and Newberry Counties. They are a very popular dish at Shealy's in Leesville( see Stern's "Roadfood" review ) and I wouldn't be surprised if GWB didn't eat some when he visited there during his last campaign. My mother was a home economics teacher who spent 90 years in Pickens County and she had never heard of them.

        It's for sure that if you don't like liver you won't like liver nips.

        1. re: Paul in S.C.

          So it seems that Liver Nips are available in a confined area. Thank goodness LOL!

          1. re: BlueHerons
            p
            Paul in S.C.

            or they are so good nobody wants to share their secret family recipe.

          2. re: Paul in S.C.
            a
            Aromatherapy

            I realized after my last post that the article I linked only talked about their being served in beef broth (which is how I remember eating them in Germany, and damn were they good). Can you tell us more about the sauced prep?

            I gotta say I've never heard of an Oktoberfest in SC. Sounds like a trip for when I'm next down that way in October.

            1. re: Aromatherapy
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              Paul in S.C.

              I have no idea how they are made. Everyone seems so guarded when I ask. Ever been to Oktoberfest in Helen, Ga.? It's the best this side of Munich.

              1. re: Paul in S.C.
                a
                Aromatherapy

                There's a recipe linked in my first reply, for the dumplings themselves. Don't know how they differ from the mother country version but there must be a ton of recipes for those. Never been to Oktoberfest in SC, it's duly noted.

        2. p
          Paul in S.C.

          I forgot to add that liver nips also contain dumplings

          1 Reply
          1. re: Paul in S.C.
            a
            Aromatherapy

            Like flour-based drop dumplings? Dumplings plus dumplings? This is sounding better and better. Fieldwork is required.

          2. How I long for liver nips! That's how I ran across this post. (And, yes, I grew up in Lexington County...Leesville, to be specific.) I've heard that "nips" comes from the German word "knepps" which may or may not mean dumplings. In any case, my grandma and mama, neither of whom were of German heritage, always cooked a chuck roast for the broth. The dumplings were made with flour, sage and beef liver that was basically scraped so that it was almost liquified. The nips were then dropped into the boiling beef stock and cooked till done. Nothing special was done to thicken the broth; that just happened from the flour in the dumplings. We usually had these in the winter and they were so tasty! The cooked chuck roast was shredded, sprinkled with chopped onions, squirted all over with mustard and ketchup and then put in the oven, covered, long enough to let the onions soften and the flavors to blend. I guess you could have called it deconstructed barbecue beef.

            2 Replies
            1. re: PaulaCat

              I am from Newberry county and grew up with my grandmother making liver nips but had not tasted them until recently. At the time she was living, I didn't like liver but have been eating it for a while. (I'm pushing 60) Needless I say, I never tasted them. OMG!!! They were delicious. I found a simple recipe for them at livernips.com. I am going to try them myself and hope they are as good as the ones that I tasted. I have been to Shealy's a hundred times and never even tried them..how stupid of me!!!

              1. re: janzjax

                I saw a recipe on livernips.com but it called for cooking the liver with the beef, then grinding the liver and mixing it into the dumplings. I know that all the nips I ever ate did not use precooked liver. Somehow, I think it would change the texture of the dumpling as well as alter the taste of the broth. Anyway...just a thought. Let us know how they turn out!

            2. I lived in warrenville South Carolina until I joined the Air Force and my grandmother would cook us livernips all the time. When I came home on leave she would make sure that I got my livernips before I left. Many people do not know shat they are missing until they get a taste and then they go wild. Another thing that we used to have in the Warrenville are was collard kraut. I have found out thru my travel that this is another local item. I still purchase it by the quarts when I go to visit in the fall and winter months. It is made the same as cabbage kraut but with mostly collards and a little cabbage. If you have ever had any of it you will know just how great it is. Buddy

              1 Reply
              1. re: whall

                The collards episode of A Chef's Life, on PBS, has North Carolina native Vivian Howard raving about, and learning to make, collard kraut. The local experts insist on something involving making it only at specific times, to do with phase of the moon, or harvest schedule or something. Can't recall the specifics.

              2. I know this is an old thread, but this is how *I* was taught to make liver nips by my grandmother, she was of German descent. My family came to SC from Germany in 1752, so we are indeed part of the "Deutsch Fork" settlement.

                My grandmama, Lena Fulmer, taught me to make these when I was young. It's a traditional dish in this area (being that this is a heavily German settled area) with its roots in Germany. I do not measure anything, so good luck on that part :-)

                1 beef roast, boiled (I use chuck or london broil). NOTE: be sure to season your roast when you cook it - I boil mine in beef broth with seasonings.
                1 calves liver
                eggs
                flour
                onion (about 1 medium), grated or very finely minced
                salt
                pepper
                sweet basil
                coriander (if desired)

                Boil your beef roast and remove from the broth. Place roast to the side- you will use it later.

                Place the liver in a meat grinder or food processor, and grind until pureed. Add flour and eggs until a batter consistency is reached. Add onion. Season with salt, pepper, basil and/or coriander to taste. (You may have to cook a dumpling or two and adjust seasonings). Bring beef stock to boil, drop by spoonfuls into the broth. When the dumplings float, they are done.

                After all dumplings are cooked, crumble roast into pot with dumplings.

                That's all there is to it! This recipe is not for those watching their cholesterol, LOL! I will tell you that my mother will often boil the calves liver with the beef roast so that she knows the liver will be done but if you make sure your dumplings are thoroughly cooked, the liver is so finely ground it will be done too.

                2 Replies
                1. re: EmpieSC

                  Sounds exactly like Hungarian liver dumplings which use finely chopped calf or chicken liver, egg, flour, chopped onion, salt and parsley. sometimes bread crmbs or farina are used instead of flour. Always served in "hus leves" - Hungarian beef soup.

                  1. re: EmpieSC

                    Czechs (Bohemians) have a liver dumpling soup that sounds identical to this! I haven't had it in years, but it was very good.

                  2. Thrilled to find this! I'd like to mention that in addition to pepper, my grandmother seasoned her liver nips with oodles of ground coriander. Oodles. And they were de-by-god-licious.

                    1. Hi Paul.
                      I am making liver nips tonight. My mother is 96 and we were talking about them today, so I decided to make her some. It has been about 11years since I last made them. We live in Gilbert, SC. My neighbor always made them for us. I also had a great aunt that made them.They are not very hard to make.

                      1. I am so excited I read this! I LOVE liver nips! My 86 year old grandmother still makes them. She grew up in the Dutch Fork area. My dad and I were talking about getting the recipe as we were eating them at The Farmer's Shed tonight in Lexington. They will not be serving them again until the fall. They said it is a seasonal item on their menu. That is just sad because their's were just like my grandmothers!!! And yes we do have both a German and Lutheran heritage.

                        1. my grandmother made liver nips all the time when i lived with her in newberry sc as a kid. my favorte dish of my mothers is liver nips. she taught my 2 daughters to make them last year. she tells me there is a contest in newberry each year for the best liver nips. she lives in alaska and is 80 years old and says she should go and win this contest. my grandmother is from german desent and was lutheran.

                          1. I grew up in the Dutch Fork area, am a lifelong Lutheran, and grew up around varying recipes of liver nips. Although liver is not appetizing to me, liver nips can be tasty when the liver taste is masked by the beef, stock, and seasoning. Trying them should be on anyone's culinary bucket list. I work with the Newberry County Chamber of Commerce, and we will host the 13th Annual Liver Nip Cook-off tomorrow as part of the city's Oktoberfest, held annually on the 1st Saturday of October. The contestants bring their liver nips already cooked, they are judged at 11:30 a.m., then folks line up to taste test them. I encourage anyone in the area to come out to the festivities from 10a-7p. Now that you know about the liver nips contest and Oktoberfest, put it on your calendar to attend each year!