Wednesday, December 19, 2007
LIVER & ONIONS ANYONE?
Liver is something you either love or hate. Personally...I really enjoy liver about twice a year or so. I like to saute mushrooms with onions and sage and serve them over top of fresh calve's liver that has been dredged in seasoned flour and pan-fried - no more than medium - in melted butter. In my humble opinion it's a meal fit for a king, and if you're the sort to drown it in ketchup then it's off to the gallows with you. Well...maybe just to the local greasy spoon!!
I can sympathize with the ketchup wielding faction however, because my mother - as wonderful a cook as she was - was not adept at cooking liver. She could muster up a really great fry-up...don't get me wrong, and she was a really amazing cook too! But liver wasn't her forte, and because of that one fact, I grew up detesting it. In fact, it wasn't until I went to chef school that I learned to appreciate liver.
I remember sitting through a class on "breakfast cookery" at George Brown College when the instructor brought out the liver. She didn't just bring out the liver...she brought out the liver! The whole liver that is!! She then proceeded to clean and prepare the liver and sliced several pieces in preparation for the class. It was an interesting introduction.
I watched her clean, flour and pan-fry the liver in minutes and she plated it and invited us to sample the finished product. I was unimpressed by the whole thing because technically it was very simple, but when I tasted the liver I loved it! The reason the liver was so good was because it wasn't overcooked.
Now, as I already mentioned, my mother was a great cook. But the reason her liver wasn't quite at the top of my favorite list growing up as a child is because she always cooked it well done. It tasted fine...but as with all well done liver, the flavor got stronger and the texture became "pasty" because it was overcooked. Sorry mom...no gold star!
So, the secret in cooking liver is to cook it medium. As for soaking it in milk to soften the flavor...I've never done it and I don't believe it's necessary. Just don't cook the hell out of it!
One recipe I have for liver is one I was given by another instructor at George Brown. One of the pastry instructors verbally walked me through his favorite way to cook liver and once I tried it myself I loved it. It's my favorite way to prepare liver, although I still like the traditional liver and onions now and then. This is a simple liver pasta dish with a white wine cream sauce. It's as easy to make as, say, Alfredo, with a few additions.
Calves or beef liver - sliced into 1/2 inch slices
Crimini Mushrooms - sliced
White onion - julienne
Garlic - minced
Parsley - picked and chopped fine
Linguine - cooked
Salt and pepper
There are no measurements on this one. If you are preparing this dish for two, get yourself 200 to 300 grams of liver, as many mushrooms as you will like and 1/2 litre of cream will do for the sauce. A dry, crisp white wine will work well for the sauce as well, so try a chardonnay or a pinot gris.
1. In a hot pan, melt two or three pats of butter. Dredge the liver slices in flour and shake off excess. Place liver into the hot pan and brown evenly. DO NOT COOK LIVER THOROUGHLY! Remove liver from pan to rest.
2. Add more butter to hot pan and saute mushrooms until slightly browned. Add julienne onion and minced garlic and cook until soft.
3. Add about 1/2 cup of white wine to the pan and deglaze the pan with a wooden spoon. Bring to a simmer. Add whipping cream. Allow the sause to reduce to the consistency of a cream sauce.
4. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and add the liver back into the sauce to reheat. Heat the liver in the simmering sauce thoroughly and add chopped parsley.
5. Add cooked linguine to the sauce and heat through while tossing.
6. Serve immediately with cold, crisp white wine and a nice salad.
The important things to remember on with this recipe is not to over cook the liver. I can't stress that enough! And when cooking liver and onions...the same rule applies.
Posted by Livingston Cooks at 8:43 PM