Yes,I know. I can already hear the screams of horror. I can see a stampede of vegans with burning torches and pitchforks heading up the street ready to have me burned at the stake for this.
But hear me out.
I’m well aware that liver is considered the food of octogenarians, or brings shivers down the spine of anyone who had to endure school dinner liver, all faintly green and sickeningly overdone. Indeed, handled badly, liver does turn into shoe leather both in look and taste, but with a bit more care, it can actually be quite delicious, and plus, it;s filthy cheap. Plus I kind of like these old-school British dishes, even in the middle of this relentless heatwave.
There’s two ways you can cook liver; either flash fried and served with onions and bacon, or casseroled for at least 40 minutes. I’ve only ever casseroled liver (though I once made liver curry, and despite sounding hideously unpromising, it was actually extremely good), and when you cook it this way too, you’ll want to eat it so much more – it makes the most wonderful gravy.
This recipe was adapted from one I found online after impulse buying just shy of 400g of lambs’ liver from my local supermarket’s butcher counter reductions pile and it came to just 95p. Enough to feed 2 (or myself for 2 days) handsomely.
It is ideal, especially if you’re new to cooking liver, to soak it in milk first as this mellows the taste, but I found, at least with this lambs’ liver, that this step was un-necessary. (I was being lazy).
A final note, and it’s a bossy one – mash, be it potato, or, if you’re of a more low carb bent, cauliflower, is the only acceptable accompaniment as nothing else can carry the exquisite gravy the same way. Though some crisped bacon, and maybe some steamed cabbage or kale on the side wouldn’t be a bad shout.
400-500g liver, from any animal you like (whatever’s cheapest)
1-2 tbsp oil
1 onion, sliced,
2 stock cubes (any you like)
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp vinegar or Worcester sauce
- Wash the liver and drain in a colander in case of any excess blood, before slicing into chunks, not too big, just the same as regular stewing steak, being careful to remove and sinewy bits. You don’t want these in your casserole.
- In a large pan over medium-high heat, fry off the onions, sprinkling with salt to stop them catching until soft. Remove from the pan and add a splash more oil if necessary.
- Brown the liver pieces in the oil, ensuring, if you can, to get a good colour. Alternatively, you could switch these steps around, by browning off the liver first before adding the onions and then transferring the liver to a plate.
- Return the onions to the pan (or the liver, along with any juices that have collected if you did this the other way around), and pour over just enough water to cover. Crumble in the two stock cubes (I used chicken but with 1/2 tbsp beef gravy granules added) along with the puree, ketchup and vinegar (or Worcester sauce) and stir well.
- Bring to boil then turn down to a fast simmer and cook for about 45 minutes. Serve, with mash of course, once the gravy is reduced to a thick sauce and the liver is tender.