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Speak to me of liver

I am an offal lover. I love rognon, andouillette and rare, thick liver. I came to these plates late in live, in France rather than at my mother's knee.

I'm away from France for some months and lust for some good liver. Bought myself a rather thick slice at my premium butcher today. Seasoned and quickly sauteed it tonight. It was awful offal! Am saving it for the cats.

Since I bought the best of the best available here, I am wondering about the definition of calves' liver in the US and in France. The difference in slaughter age. The elevage. (I know that the premium local lamb that I can source is much older than the sweet, young lamb that I enjoy in France or even the frozen New Zealand lamb available here. We just kill when the animal is older.)

Any thoughts on the difference between the fabulous thick cut veal liver I order in France and that that I can access here?

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  1. The old technique was to pre-soak liver in milk for a while which helps mellow the flavour maybe useful if you can't source what you are looking for. The alternative maybe to lightly sauté chicken livers, they will give a good offal hit.

    1 Reply
    1. re: PhilD

      ITA on the chicken livers. They are inexpensive and, when well prepared, a true délice.

    2. Notice that you live in San Francisco where I have not seen good calves liver sold in any butcher in decades: Bryan's, Cal Mart, Prather Ranch, Cafe Rouge or any of the boutique butchers such as Olivier's, 4505, Fatted Calf, Local. I think the main reason is that there is no demand for it. Haven't seen it on any restaurant menu in the SF Bay Area. I don't believe any of the above butcher actually break down a calf. I've stopped looking long ago.

      1 Reply
      1. re: PBSF

        Thanks, Phil and PBSF. You both make sense.

      2. Good point, most expensive meat in France, least expensive in USA.About three years ago did what you did, bought an immense lobe of calves liver in eastern USA, and roasted it, if l had had cats, that is where it would go. Still had veins in it, was overly blooded thus tasted full of iron, have not ventured into this realm again.
        This was from the best butcher in my area.

        1. To shift the subject from purchased liver (here and the US) to consuming it in restos here, I have to add that one of Parnassien's best recs was 6.5 Au Bon Coin, 21, rue de la Collegiale in the 5th, 01.43.31.55.57, (Metro: Gobelins), open 7/7 and August, which had been under my radar screen for a long time but where I found thickly cut liver cooked beautifully (that is under-cooked), the likes of which I haven't seen since the late 1960's/early 1970's at the old, previously owned Chez Les Anges.

          15 Replies
          1. re: John Talbott

            I will add a Proustian moment: the most extraordinary liver in my life was at Le Dirigeable in the 15th. It sat on a bed of luxurious creamed spinach, was about 4cm thick, rare and delicate. I grudgingly shared a bite with DH who dislikes liver; he was an instant convert.

            We both ordered it when we again found it on their menu months later. The meat and cut seemed the same, but both were cooked beyond bright rosy, overcooked for us. Guy, our superb waiter, agreed and had them replaced. And, of course, the replacements came to table almost on the hoof.

            Perhaps this moment is more Wolfe than Proust.

            We have Au Bon Coin on our target list.

            1. re: mangeur

              The champions of calf's liver in Paris are known and every lover of foie de veau in this town is bound to know them: Chez Dumonet-Joséphine and Le Caméléon, rue de Chevreuse, in the 14th.

              The latter can easily compete for the title of most wonderful calf's liver in Paris. Thick-cut, slab-like, and at the difference of the one at Le Bon Coin, perfectly done - not undercooked or overcooked.

              1. re: Ptipois

                As a champion on the underdone variety, Le Caméléon's works fine for me.

                1. re: John Talbott

                  Nobody asked, but I just had foie de lotte, from my fave poissonnier Dominique Maury in my fave market, St Quentin. I feel as though I had been dépucelée. This is fish foie gras, which I therefore made poêlé. Absolute food porn.
                  I recommend to you all this fish dude Maury, even when I have two good poissonnier on my street (de Martyrs). He supplies le Verre Volé and Spring !

                  1. re: Parigi

                    To roll tightly in plastic wrap with aromatics after marinating in sake/rice wine/white wine and steam gently for 20 minutes. Then let cool, unwrap and slice. Heaven.

                    1. re: Ptipois

                      Weeping. Merci.
                      What about shaoxing ?

                      1. re: Parigi

                        Yes, absolutely.
                        When I say "rice wine" I always mean Shaoxing, a drink of the Gods.

                    2. re: Parigi

                      Foie de lotte = ankimo. Steaming or sous-vide, then chilling, slicing and dressing with ponzu is the standard Japanese treatment but you should be able to google specifics as well as alternate recipes.

                        1. re: shakti2

                          apparently the best is during august ... apparently according to the japs, the flavor is most rich then ??

                    3. re: Ptipois

                      Having recently eaten at Au Bon Coin and Le Caméléon (both in my general 'hood), I think Au Bon Coin wins in the foie-de-veau stakes. But I think it's just a matter of luck whether one will be better than the other on any particular night.

                      1. re: Parnassien

                        I think the one at Au Bon Coin is underdone. Rare does not mean raw and cold at heart.

                        1. re: Ptipois

                          In that case, the three times I've had calves liver at Au Bon Coin, it was not underdone, raw or cold at heart. Luck of the draw, I guess. When robots replace humans in the kitchen, maybe we can expect the same quality every time.

                      2. re: Ptipois

                        Chez Denise's is pretty awesome too.

                    4. re: John Talbott

                      Add my agreement to Au Bon Coin in the 5th, they also had a very superior foie gras terrine than is my current favorite.
                      Chez Denise also does and excellent rendition of foie de veau with great bacon on top.
                      Was not as thrilled with Dumonet as seemed to have been dredged in a seasoned flour and was crunchy as a result.

                    5. Most veal sold in the US these days is really "baby beef." (Julia Child used to lament this, so it's been going on a good while.) Real veal -- the liver included -- goes from mother to market. Has ingested only mother's milk. It's much paler (almost white) in color, and very tender.

                      Calves liver in France is from this kind of animal.. I suspect elsewhere in Europe, too.

                      Last November we purchased an exemplary slab of liver from a butcher in the covered market beside the Marche d'Aligre. :)