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Pork liver and why we never see it at grocery stores / restaurants

  • c

I see beef, veal, and chicken liver for sale all the time. Why not pork? (Is it that the taste is less appealing? Is it that pigs are fed lower quality foods than other farm animals, so the liver is more contaminated?) I'd welcome an explanation!

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  1. I have heard it has a stronger flavor than other liver's and is a bit tougher.. but I suspect you could get it if you asked..

    1 Reply
    1. re: grant.cook

      my closest butcher's counter has pig's feet (strong latin american influence on the nabe). pig's liver shouldn't be too much more exotic, right?

    2. It has a much stronger flavor than other types of liver so there isn't much demand for it. I see it infrequently in the grocery store in my "gentrifying" neighborhood.

      It's used to make liverwurst, so perhaps most of it is diverted for that use and never makes it to retail. It's also the main ingredient in Braunschweiger, a spreadable liver sausage.

      Pigs today aren't fed "lower quality food." Their diet is highly controlled to produce the lean pork that the general American market demands - the "Other White Meat."

      9 Replies
      1. re: MakingSense

        I like liverwurst and braunschweiger quite a lot, actually. Sounds like I'll have to try pig's liver, straight, if I can find it.

        1. re: cimui

          Driving from Vienna to Budapest once with Austrian friends we detoured to a place that made fresh liverwurst. Served still warm on fresh rolls, it was some of the best road food of my life.
          Saveur magazine had a recipe for it a few years ago but I lost that issue before I ever tried it. Should be a great, inexpensive treat. I love the stuff.

        2. re: MakingSense

          what exactly is the difference between Liverwurst and Braunschwieger? we always used the 2 terms as synonyms growing up.

          1. re: hill food

            My German grandfather always told us that Braunschweiger was smoked and liverwurst was fresh liver sausage.
            Note: this same grandfather also told us that brown cows gave chocolate milk and easter bunnies laid the pretty eggs ............

            1. re: hill food

              i always thought that braunschweiger was a subset of liverwurst -- but i'm no expert!

              1. re: cimui

                that fits with Sherri's explanation - Liverwurst fresh and the BraunSch taken a step further.

                thanks, never had them side by side.

              2. re: hill food

                I think properly liverwurst refers to all liver sausage in general, whereas braunschweiger refers to a particular type of smoked liver sausage.


                1. re: hill food

                  Braunschweiger simply means that it originally comes from Braunschweig, Germany. Liverwurst is simply a generic term, meaning liver sausage.

                  1. re: tbone120

                    Funny. In Germany, that type of sausage is generically called "teewurst" = tea sausage.

                    Not exactly sure why, as there is no tea in that sausage AFAIK.

              3. Pig's liver is always available in my supermarket.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Harters

                  Would you say there are any stronger ethnic influences on your market (Latino / Vietnamese / German)?

                  I had a pig's ogan soup in Singapore not too long ago, with one of the ingredients being pig's liver. I don't remember it tasting very strong, but I guess some of that flavor gets cooked out in soup.

                  1. re: cimui

                    My Vietnamese grocery always has pork liver (and pork hearts).

                    It's highly perishable, so use it the same day.

                    Has anyone ever made Livermush or Liver puddiing?

                    1. re: cimui

                      No particular ethnic influences. It's a common product in supermarkets and butchers (less so in the latter as they don't have the turnover of the supermarket - but the village butcher is always happy to order it for me - takes a couple of days). I only use it for making pate.

                      From time to time, the supermarket also has venison liver which, if you've never tried it, is like calves liver, but even better.

                  2. My mom told me it is tougher and the flavor is less appealing than beef and chicken liver. I personally have never tried it.

                    1. Y'all need to hang out in Nashville. Liver w/bacon and onions at a plate-lunch place (otherwise known as a "meat'n'three") is almost always pork liver, and it's available in any supermarket. Yes, it is "stronger" - it tastes like LIVER, as opposed to some vaguely liverish substance. Lunch places here in SoCal serve only calve's liver, it seems, as bland as their attempts at cornbread, though it'll do in a pinch.

                      FWIW, French recipes for pat├ęs and terrines always call for pork liver rather than that of any other mammal, with the rare exception of rabbit or hare.

                      1. I don't know where you live but here in the 'OC', I/you see pork liver(s) in Asian & Mexican markets all the time.

                        1. I'm with you, I never see it anywhere, and believe me I've looked! I use it in boudin which is a traditional cajun sausage/rice dish. You'd think I'd be able to find it in a meat market, but no such luck.

                          1. Whenever we made liver at home, it was always the pork variety.

                            Nothing like pork liver stir fried with some pork blood and green onions. Yum.

                            1. We use to have a neighbor who was from the hills of North Carolina. Whenever family would visit they would bring him some Liver Pudding. Similar to scraple, it was wonderful. However, I found out the hard way that it's not the most gout friendly foodstuff there is.

                              We looked hi and low to find some pork liver so we could make our own, to no avail.

                              1. You can find pork liver in asian supermarkets (at least in San Diego) without any problems.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: honkman

                                  Pork liver can be found in an Asian market in my area as well...north of Boston.

                                2. Tradition?

                                  The Chinese and the Vietnamese, as far as I know, have a few traditional uses of pig liver in their cooking, such as in soups and congee. For some reason, the other kinds of liver are actually not as popular in their cuisines.

                                  I once asked a French person why he (and the French, in general) eats only veal liver, of all livers, and he said something about the "unpleasant taste".

                                  1. I had it in a restaurant about a week ago for what I think was the first time (a pork/lamb liver mochi).

                                    1. I wish I could explain except perhaps you are right - quality of the source matters?

                                      I just cooked some for the first time tonight and it. was. divine.

                                      Now, granted, the liver came from a young pig pasture-raised on my mother's own farm. It was beautiful before I even cooked it, but I soaked it overnight in milk and then followed Ada Boni's recipe from Italian Regional Cooking (skewered and grilled with bread cubes and bay leaves, seasoned with salt, pepper and fennel seeds. The only change is I used some slab bacon - from one of our pigs again instead of caul fat - to wrap the liver.)

                                      After tasting this I am so glad I had a couple more pig livers in my freezer to now experiment with. I've been trying to work up the courage for a while but find there's nothing too strong or funky about the taste, if you already like chicken liver and/or have a good source for well-raised pork.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: sockii

                                        As a Brit now living in the US I remain surprised by the resistance to eating pig liver here. I have been glad to source pasture raised from local farmers. For me it is better than lamb or goat and far better than beef liver. I just dip in some seasoned masa harina and fry quickly in some lard. The advantage is that I get to buy it cheap!

                                        1. re: andrewtree

                                          I'm going to try some simple Venetian-style fried (pork) liver & onions next. I have basically been hoarding all of the organ meat from my mom's pigs that we've had butchered in the past year - other customers don't tend to want any of it and I have been determined not to let it go to waste. After this I'm just debating whether to try heart or tongue next. But I'm just thrilled by the quality and taste of the liver - this was from a pig about 180 pounds in weight at butchering time.

                                          1. re: sockii

                                            Great! I like pig kidney too, though not as much as lamb. Not cooked pig heart or tongue, a fun and tasty project!

                                      2. I could get it all the time in Nashville, but not here in L.A. One of my favorite meat'n'three lunch places had it braised in gravy every Thursday. SOOOO good! I suppose I can find it in Asian markets, but it's a big no-no for a guy subject to gout. Dammit.