Last fall, we bought a half of a beef from a friend of our’s father, who raises beef cattle. As I did in the freezer for the last remaining packages of steaks and stew meat, among a modest pile of neatly packaged burger, I couldn’t be more pleased. It was the best way to buy beef for us for many reasons. It was economical. I know the farmer who raised this cow and know that it was treated well. Because of this, the meat is superb. Delicious in the way grass-fed meat can only be.
The funny thing about buying the beef was I asked for some things that the butcher didn’t usually get asked for. Like short ribs. Ox tail. Tongue. Cheeks. Sweetbreads. And the offal. I would have even taken some of the bones if I would have thought of it. Maybe I can ask for those this fall when we order. Or some suet. I could make a lot of things with beef bones and suet.
I didn’t get the cheeks or the sweetbreads, but I did get a few packages of short ribs. The ox tail. Two packages of tongue (I think he threw in an extra since no one seems to want it). And several packages of beef liver.
Liver is something I’ve taken a liking to over the past few years. It’s hard to explain. Most people crinkle up their nose at it, but it’s really not bad at all. I used to crinkle up my nose at it, but I think it’s because I just hadn’t had it fixed in a way that I liked. I’ve had some bad liver. Tough liver. Liver that almost tasted sour. If you don’t like liver, then you probably had some bad liver, too. If you do like venison, then you’re already halfway there to liking beef liver. Some people describe it as having a metallic taste, but I don’t think so. I think it tastes a lot like deer meat.
I’ve made it a couple times, but it’s hard to find recipes for it. Usually, when I’m faced with a weird cut of meat, I can find something to do with it in my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. That cookbook is seriously comprehensive. It should be in everyone’s kitchen, even if you don’t think you want to cook French food. There are hundreds of recipes for every kind of sauce, vegetable, cut of meat, egg dish and pastry you can imagine. There happen to only be two recipes for beef liver in it. And I’ve tried both.
I looked on Pinterest yesterday for a new recipe, but I just couldn’t find one that seemed appetizing. I decided to just wing it on my own and keep it simple. I wanted to let the delicate taste and texture of this cut of meat stand out. When in doubt, just use a little white wine and butter. You simply cannot go wrong.
Simple White Wine Calf’s Liver (serves 2 generously)
- 1/2 pound of calf’s liver, cut into 1/2 inch strips
- 1 Tb butter
- 1 Tb extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 small red onion, cut into slices
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
Melt the butter with the olive oil on medium heat in a large skillet. Pat the liver slices dry with paper towels and dredge in flour very lightly. When the skillet is hot and the butter has melted and begins to foam, add the slices of liver to the skillet, being careful not to over crowd them. Do not touch them for 4 minutes or so, and gently check underneath to see if are getting a nice deep golden brown crust. If they aren’t there yet, leave them for another couple minutes. Once the bottom is nice and brown, turn them carefully and brown the other side, another 4 or so minutes. I like them still just slightly pink inside, but you may want them a little more done. Once they’re done, remove them from the skillet and add the onion slices. Stir around the skillet a bit until they begin to soften and get translucent. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the skillet to get the bits of browned liver incorporated. Let cook on medium heat so that the wine reduces for just a couple minutes. Add the slices of liver back to the skillet to coat with the wine mixture. Serve immediately.
These were so light and tender. You could cut them like butter. We ate them with a glass of wine that I used to deglaze the pan with, which was perfect. The red onion was key because it was slightly sweet, and contrasted perfectly with the rich savory liver.
Liver is extremely healthy. It’s high in iron, and you can get your daily requirement of several vitamins like B12 and K. Also, it’s really high in protein and low in fat, too. If you think you don’t like liver, just try this recipe before you write it off for good. You might still not like it, but this recipe could be the one that wins you over to being a liver-eater!