Sometimes, culinary traditions skip a generation in a process I call the "I will never do that to MY kids effect."
In other words, when somebody is forced to eat something that they find disgusting by their parents, they swear that they will spare their own children a similar fate, thus creating a breach in the culinary space-time continuum, with many a great dish potentially falling through the cracks.
Liver and onions is such a dish.
In my own family, I can't recall a single time that liver and onions was served. In fact, I can't recall us ever having steak either. I think the meat heavy fifties weighed heavily on my mom, inclining her for a more vegetarian approach. (Thus, I will never feed MY kids tofu!)
Since taking up a more evolved diet, however, I have been exploring more of the "odd bits" of animals and have, much to my surprise, discovered that offal is anything but awful. In fact, it's quite tasty, super nutritious, and surprisingly economical.
|"What is it?" Johnny wrinkled his nose in disgust as he poked at the rubbery slab of liver on his plate.|
Liver does need to be done right, however, and the first order of business is choosing a quality organ.
Eating a liver from a "conventional" animal is not going to kill you, but there is no reason to go with anything but grass-fed.
My local Whole Foods store regularly sells grass-fed beef liver for $3.99/lb, but check your local co-ops, natural food stores, or online retailers like US Wellness Meats if you can't find any locally.
(For a detailed write up on the nutritional benefits of liver check out this post here ---> The Liver Files)
|This cow not only eats grass, it craps rainbows too!|
In addition to a quality liver, you also need to have quality condiments. In this case, that means plenty of sweet caramelized onions and plenty of crunchy bacon.
When caramelizing your onions, the key is to give the process time. The burner should be turned high enough so that the hot oil is just simmering the onions, slowly coaxing the sugar out of them and turning them golden brown and soft through and through.
The trick to making bacon is to make sure you have enough of it. I recommend that you use approximately one Skyrim helmets worth...
|Rawr! Videogames become real with bacon!|
The last piece of the offal puzzle is to simply sear the liver like a piece of ahi tuna, rather than cooking it all the way through.
A quick sear in hot oil will keep the liver tender, will give it a nice golden brown color, and won't leave you with the distinct impression that you just ate a shoe.
|Search for gold, eat a shoe.|
Liver & Onions & Bacon
(Recipe inspired by The Domestic Man and The River Cottage Meat Book)
1lb Grass-fed beef, calf or bison liver (If you find the flavor of liver to be too strong, you can marinate your liver overnight in a water with lemon juice or vinegar, lightly smashed fresh garlic, and herbs like bay leaf, rosemary, and thyme. If you like the flavor of liver, simply forgo this step and prepare it fresh.)
1lb bacon strips
1 large white onion (sliced thin)
Trim any blood vessels from your liver and slice it into approximately three or four equal portions. Set aside.
In a large skillet, fry the bacon strips over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove the bacon to an oven-safe pan and put in the oven (set low) to keep it warm. Reserve a tablespoon or two of bacon fat (put it in a separate dish) and add a tablespoon or two of butter to the frying pan. Turn the heat down to medium and add your onions to the pan. Stir the onions as they caramelize, being careful to not let them burn. (This should take ~20 minutes)
After the onions have caramelized, put them in a bowl and cover with foil. Put them in the oven with the bacon to keep warm.
In a small bowl, mix a few tablespoons of potato starch with a good pinch of salt and some fresh black pepper. Sprinkle a thin coat of this on the slices of liver. (Be sure to coat both sides)
Give your pan a quick wipe down and turn the heat back up to medium-high. Add the bacon fat along with a couple tbsp of butter to the pan. When the oil is hot enough to make a drop of water sputter, add the liver slices and fry for approximately two minutes before turning. Fry for another two minutes and then remove the liver from the pan.
Plate each slice of liver with a generous portion of caramelized onions and crumbled bacon.
Do you have your own "I will never do that to MY kids" story? If so, share it in the comments section below!