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Where to start with Liver? From which beast and how to cook?

We are venturing more and more into Offal territory at home, as seems to be the trend of late, and perhaps its time to tackle "Liver" at home. But where do you start?

Calf's Liver seems to be one obvious choice as I hear its a bit milder. Is that true? and How to cook it?

But what about Lamb Liver, Ox Liver, Chicken Liver, Duck Liver, Goose Liver, Foie Gras, Pig Liver - how would you rate each? And what are classic preparations?

Whats your favourite liver and preparation?

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  1. Go with calves' liver to start if you've never eaten it before now. Fry it, but not 'well done' because it will be like shoe leather. There are probably a myriad of recipes on the internet. Liver is often served with fried onions and/or bacon.

    I like chicken livers from which I make chopped chicken liver pate, but only about twice a year. Liver is high in cholesterol with which I have a problem. Also should be loads of recipes on the internet.

    I ate pork liver only once in my life. I found the taste rather gamy. Never want it again.

    Buon appetito!

    1. http://forums.finecooking.com/cooksta...

      I don't care for liver, but I have been willing to try it every so often because everyone in my family adores it. Marcella Hazan's recipe (link above) is the closest I have come to liking it. As far as my liver-loving-family goes, it was A+++

      1. Chicken livers, sauteed until just pink w/ tons of onion; then chopped, combined w/ schmaltz and chopped egg and served w/ rye....
        Or sauteed to med., w/ bacon and onions, finished w/ a splash of whatever booze is open (usually brandy or port) and a splash of cream. W/ noodles.

        3 Replies
        1. re: mamachef

          ...or a chicken liver sauce (or duck liver...). Yum!

          I sometimes make a simple chicken liver sauce to accompany my Hainanese Chicken with the livers that come w/ the chicken especially if I get a nice honking big piece of it. Chop the washed & trimmed liver into mush, sauté some finely chopped shallots (NOT "the usual" onions) in some good oil (but not olive - use veggie or maybe peanut), add the chopped liver (low heat), swish around, add stock, season, maybe add some fortified wine (sherry or port; but usually I leave that out) or maybe brandy, simmer for a while, smoosh up the mixture from time to time...voilà! - a nice simple semi-grainy (I like that) liver sauce. Great with just the rice alone, even.

          1. re: huiray

            I would eat this with paparderlle, any day. Yum.

          2. re: mamachef

            I second the motion. I use the recipe in "Jewish Cooking In America" by Joan Nathan. Cokie Roberts appeared on Joan Nathan's TV show years ago and added Tabasco Sauce. Cokie is from Louisiana.

          3. sliced calf liver:
            thinly slice 2-3 onions and caramalize in a butter/oil mix in a large pan. Once browned, move to side of pan. Dredge liver in flour, add more butter/oil to pan if needed. Saute liver in pan, browning both sides. Add water, stir onions onto and around liver, simmer until thickened. Plate & enjoy.
            Can use same method with pork or chicken liver (haven't tried other types).

            The owner of our favorite chinese resto gave us some cold cooked chicken livers last week, said her neighbor made them. They were delicious. I'm guessing they were braised in a soy/5 spice liquid. I'm going to try it soon.

            1. Calf liver - wonderful taste & texture. As with all livers, cook quickly, needs to be a bit pink inside. The classic meat for fegato alla Veneziana.

              Lamb's liver - the one I eat more than any other. Perfect with bacon and onion gravy. Also pretty good with a devilled sauce.

              Chicken liver - pate or a quick fry to dump on top of salad leaves as a starter

              Pig's liver - I only use this to add richness to a pork terrine.

              Foie Gras - prefer not to eat this on ethical grounds unless assured that it is from the humanely raised birds (and it never is!)

              2 Replies
              1. re: Harters

                There are differing opinions about foie gras - and there is also the Spanish "wild" foie gras produced by Eduardo Sousa.

                1. re: huiray

                  The Spanish product, or similar, is the one I'm happy to eat. But I've never come across it in the UK.

              2. Calf's liver marinated in a mix of soy sauce and lemon juice (for a couple of hours, I guess), then dredged in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Saute, being sure not to overcook. You can cook bacon beforehand, saute it in the bacon fat, and add the bacon later. Also, cook onions and/or mushrooms in the same pan after cooking the liver.

                Clean and chop chicken liver, then lightly cook in some butter. Add to your favorite chicken noodle soup (or other chicken-y soup) 5-10 minutes before it is done cooking. I like adding it to chicken congee.

                1. Foie Gras....Pan Seared Slices accompanied with Onion Chutney

                  Calves' Liver....Normally, I would not phantom incorporating dairy and acid together...but this recipe was made by a chef at one of the places I was associated with in the past and it was excellent.


                  Sauteed Onions

                  * Calf Liver De veined
                  * Seasoned with Salt and Pepper/Seasoned Flour
                  * Dipped in Egg
                  * Pan Saute or Fried in Olive Oil & Butter to Medium-Rare
                  * Remove to a Plate
                  * Add Cream to Pan and Reduce to Half Volume
                  * Add 2 Tablespoons of Balsamic or Red Vinegar
                  * Once it Bubbles, dress the Calves' Liver

                  Chicken Liver:

                  Saute in Butter or Schmaltz ......Sauteed Onions and Chopped Hard Boiled Egg Optional for Pate.

                  Simple Sauteed Chicken Livers in Butter and Olive Oil over Pasta...Season To Taste......

                  Simply Boiled and eaten with a splash of Soy Sauce or Tabasco when part of bag in a whole chicken.

                  As others have indicated, you should not over-cook liver in general.

                  1. I'm not that big a fan of liver...after a few bites, the taste gets wearing. But when I roast a duck or cook a rabbit, I'll reserve the liver, chop it coarsely, then saute it in butter or olive oil and shallots, with mushrooms, then add some red wine or sherry, or best of all, the soaking liquid if I use dry porcini's. Makes a great side dish. Rabbit liver is probably my favorite liver.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: EricMM

                      Liver and Onions -

                      Use calf liver - also, because the liver is the cleaning system of the blood - it's very important to me that it comes from totally organic sources.

                      2 - 3 strips of bacon - fat rendered add the onions - 2 large Onions or more

                      Once the onions are nicely carmelized / wilted, add additonal oil if needed. Calves liver cooks extremely quickly - (like fish) 2 - 3 minutes per side, sereve with the onions.

                      I love liver and onions with a big big red wine. I don't make a gravy or bread - I do however, like a very small bit of ketchup (don't tell anyone please) to coat both the liver and the onions for a bit of sweetness....

                      I have to eat this alone cause I don't know anyone else that will touch the stuff - but I love it....

                      1. re: EricMM

                        It used to be common to dice and saute the liver along with the vegetables when making stuffing for chicken or turkey, and I still do that. It adds richness and texture but there's so little of it that the stuffing doesn't scream liver.

                        1. re: greygarious

                          Similarly, chicken liver is tasty back flavor in dirty rice (and adding texture & richness).

                      2. I disagree with calves liver as the wading pool for liver newbies. It's expensive and like other larger animal livers, can get tough easily. I suggest beginning with chicken livers, which are about the cheapest protein in your supermarket. The flavor is mild, and they stay tender because they are thicker, thus harder to overcook. If your heat is too high, they pop and spatter to let you know you need to lower the temp!

                        Saute a slice of bacon per two portions of chicken liver, remove the bacon and slice or crumble it. Cook a medium sliced/chopped onion in the bacon fat. Meanwhile, drain the livers, remove any errant hearts that made their way into the container, and pull off most of the light-colored strings of fat between the lobes. Roll in salt-and-peppered flour if desired (you can add garlic powder to the flour, too) but it's optional. When the onions are soft but not yet browned, add the livers to the pan ans sautee on medium heat, or lower, Turn when one side is golden-brown.
                        Add 2oz of red wine and stir to loosen the fond. Once the alcohol evaporates, you can add a splash of soy or teriyaki sauce as desired. Return the bacon to the pan, stir, and serve over mashed potatoes or polenta. Liver should be crispy outside but a little pink inside (like medium to medium-rare steak).

                        Chicken liver is about $1 a pound, so if you goof, you're not out much. Calve's liver is out of my price range. I like beef liver and lamb liver, which I don't find to be different from beef. I've only had lamb liver a few times - maybe it was mis-labeled? I use the bacon/onion/wine method for both. When I make chopped liver, I prefer a combination of chicken and beef.
                        Once you have mastered it, move on to others.

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: greygarious

                          In my neck of the woods of New Jersey....at a Latin Market, Asian Market or ShopRite Supermarket

                          Chicken Livers......99-1.49/lb.
                          Beef Liver...............1.49-1.99/lb.
                          Calves Liver...........2.49-2.99/lb.
                          Pork Liver...............1.69-1.99/lb.

                          1. re: fourunder

                            Interesting. Here in the UK, calves liver is extremely expensive, often more than ten times as much as others:

                            Chicken - £2.48 per kg (£6.23 per kg for organic)
                            Pig's - £1.99 per kg
                            Lamb's - £2.22 per kg
                            Calves - £34.99 per kg

                            1. re: Harters

                              At more upscale markets.....the prices could easily double or triple....but then again many of those markets are in financial difficulty...and you have to wonder why. I would say on the high end, I rarely see Calves Liver above 6.99/lb. USD

                              To give you a reference for the Asian market.....those prices are typical at HMart..

                              1. re: Harters

                                Holy cow (or would that be 'calf'?)!

                                But similar to Germany. Here in the US, calves livers are practically thrown at you, same with chicken and pork. Haven't seen lamb livers at the supermarket, but they can be ordered with a local farm where they are $4/lb.

                                1. re: linguafood

                                  Venison liver is the one to look out for. A place near me used to give it you free if you bought any of the more usual cuts of Bambi. Alas, no longer. Times are tough.

                                  1. re: Harters

                                    boy I forgot this one! Years ago a friend gave me deer liver from a animail he took... it was amaaazing......

                                    If you get the chance at deer liver take it... just don't over cook

                                    1. re: Harters

                                      Oooh! I got a venison liver & heart last year, but ended up giving both away to my keyboarder for his dogs. I know.... please don't yell at me. For shame.

                                      Thing is, my man is none too crazy about liver (or offal in general), so I hardly ever buy it. The calves liver at the supermarkets here comes in large portions (1lb. and up), and much as I love it, it's too much for me alone.

                                      1. re: Harters

                                        Back in the day.......

                                        When my Dad would bring home a deer for eating, the only part I liked was the liver. Mom would slice thinly, and dredge in flour, and fry with sliced onions.

                                        Venison liver, for sure, is the best. And I haven't had any since I was a kid, 60+ yrs ago.

                                2. re: greygarious

                                  Cheapest protein in the supermarket is an egg excluding the brand so heavily advertised on TV.

                                3. Lamb liver all the way. If you have any Mediterranean markets near you they are a great place to get lamb liver at a reasonable price. I lightly dust with Wondra flour, salt & pepper. Lightly fry in a bit of bacon grease until just barely pink inside. Cooked more that that you might as well fry up your shoes.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. I love liver especially calves liver but as mentioned up thread it is expensive.

                                    Lambs liver is also good and I like to do this.

                                    Slice and roast a couple of red onions.
                                    Mix up pain youghurt, mint or parsley , salt to taste a little lemon juice.
                                    Toast some corriander and cumin seeds and grind . Then mix with sweet paprka salt ,and plain flour and put in a conatiner or frezer bag
                                    Slice the liver and dredge with flour mix. Shake off the excess.
                                    Fry the liver quickly so the outside is crisp but inside is still pink.
                                    Toast a pitta and fill with, salad and the roasted onions and then the liver.
                                    Top with the yoghurt mixture

                                    1. While I've had Italian-style stuffed Pork liver & enjoyed it, you can have all the rest except for Chicken Livers, which are my favorite.

                                      I always make them the way my paternal grandmother did - trimmed of any stray fat &/or membranes & then sauteed in an obscene amount of butter. Add the juice from one lemon, add a scattering of caraway seeds, coarse salt, & freshly-ground black pepper to taste, & serve. If to accompany cocktails, with a frilly toothpick stuck in each one. :)

                                      1. Calves liver is indeed milder. My husband soaks the liver in milk for 15 minutes prior to cooking and then puts it in flour and fries it. It is very good with fried onions.

                                        1. Domestic Rabbit Liver........Floured and pan fried. ~~ The only liver I will eat. ~~ Mild does not describe it.

                                          1. The top of the line is rabbit liver. Better than calves liver, waterfowl liver, et cet.

                                            1. I would start with Chicken liver or foie gras. The former has less of the gamy/iron tinge than the others and will give you a good sense of whether or not you would like a stronger liver flavor. Pan sear until pink and enjoy.

                                              Alternatively, start with foie. The best of the best. If you like it chances are you'll be able to appreciate the less decadent forms. I would go with a pan seared lobe, or pick up a pre-made terrine (you can also give this a quick sear) serve with a fruit compote or jam.

                                              Ankimo or monkfish liver pate - you'll need to visit a sushi spot for this one. It's like foie of the ocean.

                                              1. Rabbit Livers at Mamma Zu's in Richmond, VA, c. 1997. We were coming in from Fords Colony, en masse. The cooks were tops. Yes. The livers were superb.