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Liver and onions

I love liver and onions but haven't cooked them at home in many, many years since DH is not a fan. However, I couldn't resist picking up some liver when I was at the store this morning. Eager to make some again. Anyone have any tips to share? I also picked up some bacon to fry up with the liver.

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  1. A splash of teriyaki or soy sauce at the very end might make it taste better to your DH. Also, though everybody used to saute liver until it is cooked through, the current recommendation is to have just a hint of pink at the center. It's more tender and the flavor not quite as strong that way. Try it and if you don't prefer it that way you can always return it to the pan. Deglazing at the end with a bit of wine tames the flavor, too.

    1. Do not overcook, the middle should still be pinkish. Then some onions and ketchup, nothing more.

      1. Slowly, slowly caramelize the onions, in butter-olive oil mix, until really golden and soft. While the onions are cooking, place liver slice(s) in the freezer. After about 30 minutes, remove liver and slice into thin pieces about 1" square. Dry liver w/ paper towels. Have fresh sage leaves sliced as well. Push onions to the outside of pan, raise heat, add add'l oil-butter and saute liver, hot & fast, for about 1 minute. Toss w/ fresh sage, SPTT and serve ASAP. It will be pink, tender and the combination is terrific.

        We had this the other night with fresh creamed spinach and thought we'd really hit the jackpot.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Sherri

          oh, yes!

          Liver - onion = yummy
          Onion + sage = yummy
          Liver + onion + sage = wicked wonderful yummy

          Thanks for bringing this particular preparation up. I'll try it that way next time!


        2. Hey. What kind of liver are you guys talking about? In the shops I see a few different kinds: lamb, beef, chicken, etc.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Kagey

            calves liver is jfood's choice for this variety.

            And he agrees to slow sautee the onions, usingthe butter speeds the process in the caramelization but remember the color you are getting is the butter not the sugars from the onions.

            1. re: jfood

              Calves' liver would be my choice, too. When using beef liver, however, soaking in milk helps to reduce the strong flavor that some people find offputting.

          2. I've only ever eaten calf's liver... pan-seared crispy on the outside, pink on the inside in a butter/oil mix. With caramelized onion and apple slices. Yumboski. You can never go wrong with adding bacon '-)

            1. I also like to add mushrooms to my liver and onions.

              1. Saute the liver in bacon fat (if you've got it). Also adding some bacon bits doesn't hurt either.

                1. High end restaurant I used to work in served it dipped in cornmeal and served with caramelized onion marmalade (basically caramelized onions with brown sugar added in) bit of thyme and of course served with some bacon...it made me a convert. Like others have said, cooked only until pink.

                  1. I like to start the onions first, usually in a mix of butter and oil. As they break down and caramalize, add the liver and cook on rather high heat. Turn when a crust is developing. Cook some more.
                    Here's where I add some water to deglaze while the liver and onions are still in the pan. Continue cooking until most of the water is cooked off, leaving a kind of 'liver 'n onion' gravy.
                    Besides bacon, you might as well throw in breakfast sausage or blood pudding (boudin) or all three!

                    1. Chester Lampwick calls for liver and onions when he gets Itchy and Scratchy taken off the air.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: rochfood

                        I fry up the bacon first and then cook the breaded calves liver in the bacon grease...easy and always yummy.

                      2. Calves Liver dusted in flour and pan seared no more than medium-rare with liver and onions.

                        Surprisingly, I do not know if this is an actual traditional recipe or dish, but once a French chef at one of the places I worked at in my past history served me one of the most memorable and tasty Liver dishes in memory. He served it with a Balsamic Cream Sauce that complimented everything quite well. For a period of years afterward, I would always ask restaurants to recreate the dish whenever I had liver out of the house......the servers always looked at me like I was crazy, but eventually the chef would come out after dinner was eaten, ask how it was and my reply was always superb. They were surprised as they have never heard of the combination before, but they tasted it before it left the kitchen and agreed it was good. Some of the places even put it on their Specials Menu.

                        1. Smothered chicken livers and onions is also a nice option. (Southern Style) After I season I place in a plastic or paper bag with flour and lightly coat and cook on a medium heat. I just made some for dinner tonight. I cook mine in pure olive oil, seasoned with garlic powder, seasoning salt and black pepper.

                          1. I put rubbed sage, salt, and pepper into flour that I coat the liver with. Not too much sage, because it's strong. I fry bacon up, remove it from the pan, toss in the liver then put the onions on top and fry them up together. I toss the bacon back in right near the end of cooking. Delish. :)

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Morganna

                              I do the same but take out the liver and brown boiled potatoes w/ the onions. Yum.
                              Just the way mom made it.
                              We also eat lamb,cod, deer and moose liver.

                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                liver and onions is the basic, most heavenly and easiest dish to quickly
                                whip up.
                                Best of all, for most US consumers, its seen as a disgusting idea - which means that liver can be found for next to nothing in a lot of places, as its not regarded as a 'valuable' food to be marked up heavily.

                                Fry up onions, add salt and black pepper, when onions are browned, add the liver, stir them a bit to seal them (and stop juices from escaping), lower the heat, add some water and let them simmer..
                                I tend to cook up some jasmine rice, to act as a bed for the liver and onions and gravy - treat it like curry and rice, in other words.

                                1. re: TheFamine

                                  "liver and onions is the basic, most heavenly and easiest dish to quickly
                                  whip up."

                                  I agree with everything except the "quickly whip up" part.

                                  I used to absolutely hate liver until a friend taught me how he does his, and now I truly can't get enough. This 'reads' long and so it sounds complicated, but it really isn't, once you've done it. It's NOT fast food, but you certainly don't cook the liver 'to death!'

                                  First, you'll need to prep the liver. Packaged store bought is fine, but if you have access to a freshly slaughtered, never been frozen liver, that's really heavenly! and any kind of liver works well with this method. Remove as much of the membrane (its a thin, silvery-looking 'skin' thing which you certainly CAN eat, so don't go crazy over this step) and slice it about a half inch thick. Liver doesn't have a grain, so it doesn't matter (direction-wise) how you slice it. You just want to end up with all the pieces about the same THICKNESS, no matter how large or small.

                                  Next, you'll need onions, sliced about the same thickness as the liver. Slice up as many as you think you'll want and then double that, they will cook down a LOT and you want to end UP with a lot, once cooked.

                                  Then you'll want some good bacon. SLOWLY fry the bacon up over low heat, never letting the fat smoke. Turn it often (really baby it) and remove the slices to paper towels or a brown bag to drain, as soon as they're cooked to your liking. Do the bacon in batches and allow plenty of time for this step.

                                  Now, add about half a stick of margarine to your bacon grease, turn the heat up just a little bit, it's still slow food we're making here, and add the sliced onions. Season with salt and pepper and let them cook a while, stirring around now and then, so they cook up evenly. You want them to be limp with some starting to get browned. Add more margarine any time it looks like you need it. Remove the cooked onions to paper towels or brown bag, to drain. Take the pan OFF the heat.

                                  While the onions are cooking SLOWLY, mix up flour, salt and pepper, a little garlic and onion powders, maybe some paprika, if you like, in a brown bag or a zip-lock bag and add some liver slices. Shake them up to coat slices well and place in single layer on wax paper, repeating until all the liver is coated.

                                  So now you have a pile of cooked bacon, another pile of cooked onions, the floured liver slices and your pan waiting OFF HEAT with bacon grease and margarine.

                                  At this point, if your bacon fat/margarine looks or smells the least bit burned (it won't if you've kept the heat low enough and taken your time), toss it out and wipe out the pan. HOPEFULLY, your bacon fat/margarine left in the pan is fine, not burned, you want all that good flavor. If so, add another half stick or more of margarine and heat to medium high heat. If NOT, and you had to toss it out, just heat up a mix of half oil and half margarine in the same pan.

                                  Now once your fat is hot enough (toss in a few drops of water, it should sizzle, but not POP), add your liver slices, do not crowd them, and just get them good and browned on each side, this takes just a FEW minutes a side, DO NOT overcook. Remove slices just as they become well browned.

                                  After all slices are browned, they will be very pink in the middle. Reduce heat again to low, put the onions back in the pan, spread the liver out over the onions and top the liver with the bacon, overlap if you need to. Cover the pan and let it heat until all is hot through, but no more than five minutes or so! You want the liver to still show pink in the middle when everything is hot.

                                  Cooked this way, the liver is very tender, moist and totally delicious. It's not at all like that hard, yucky, weird tasting stuff you may have learned to hate and it's even good cold!

                                  Approximate amounts? Say, to serve two or three with one pound of sliced liver, I'd use at least half a pound of good bacon, three large or five medium onions, a cup and a half of flour, a teaspoon each of salt and pepper, half a teaspoon each of garlic and onion powders and paprika, if using paprika, and depending on the amount of fat that fries out of the bacon, one to one and a half sticks (each stick equals 8 tablespoons) margarine, overall. I use NUCOA brand margarine, because it has no milk solids and stands up to frying.

                            2. I add a few drops of vinegar (sherry or balsamic) to the caramelized onions at the end. I'm also a fan of a little thyme in the onions, too.