Sunday, January 8, 2012

Liver for Liver haters

When I was a kid, my mother dutifully cooked liver and onions every week until the government scientists told her this was a bad thing and she stopped.  About the same time, she cut down on the use of egg yolks, went to skimmed milk (powdered at that), and moved us all onto processed vegetable oils and margarine and took us away from butter.

We kids really missed real milk, butter, cheese and eggs. The liver we were glad to see was off the menu list because, frankly, my mother made liver into shoe leather and it tasted more burnt than anything else. Dad also liked his steaks well done, so that's how all of us go our meat.

So, how did I come to love liver?

I think my body craves it, for one. But I came across a great suggestion in several places that made me realize that mom had missed two critical points that makes liver taste great. Now, to be fair to my mom, my husband reported that his mother also cooked liver the same way my mom did, and he hated it as a child as well. It wasn't until he went into the military that he came to appreciate that someone out there could work miracles with the stuff. But he had also been taught that liver was a no-no and so it was eliminated from his diet when he was young. His first wife did not like liver (maybe her mother cooked it like our moms) and so she never experimented with it either.

There is one secret above all others, that makes liver lovely. Soaking in milk. And you throw the milk away! All the icky flavors leave the liver with that milk.

Now, I cringed at the idea of tossing out this milk marinade. Milk, for me is a precious commodity. I really had a hard time "sacrificing" a quart of milk only to throw it away. But I have come to realize two things: Liver is a sacred food and it needs to be treated that way.. Milk is reproduced by the cow (goat or sheep) on a daily basis so long as you keep milking. Each animal has only one liver. You get one harvest from each animal. There are other one shot only cuts of meat: The heart, the tongue, kidneys (they come as a pair), the tail, the brain. Hmmm, all of those are considered sacred foods. All need some sort of specialized handling care to make them really palatable. (Yes, I know there are folks who eat liver and heart raw, but even that requires something special).

So, how do I prepare liver?

Liver of the Gods
Serves 4
  1. 1 pound of liver (pork, beef, chicken, lamb)
  2. 1 quart of sweet milk (this is actually enough to soak two pounds, but it's a stretch) ** this is the only thing I buy store bought milk for now, rather than use my precious raw milk.
  3. 1 teaspoon sea salt per pound of liver
Rinse the liver under cool water and then rub it with the salt. Cut into bite sized pieces. If you have little kids, make little pieces. Put into a glass or ceramic bowl and pour the milk over it and give it a stir. Cover with a plate and put in the frig. I usually do this in the morning and let it sit all day, but if I forget, I give it at least an hour before I cook it.

About 30 minutes before your ready to eat, put on some rice or potatoes. I like it over rice. My hubby loves it over mashed potatoes and like my mother before me, I usually try to keep my hubby happy, so we usually eat it with mashed potatoes.

 Stage Two:

1/4 bacon cut into same sized pieces as the liver
1 yellow onion chopped
1 stick of celery chopped
1 tablespoon of a thickener (any kind of flour, tapioca starch works well for gluten free)
Sea salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
2 cups of milk (new milk, not the stuff you soaked the liver in)** I use precious raw milk for this part.
3 tablespoons of minced parsley

Fry the bacon bits in a skillet large enough to hold all the ingredient except the rice/potatoes. When some of the fat is rendered out, add the onion and celery. Cook until the onion is translucent. Measure out your thickener/flour. Measure out your milk. Put to the side. Now, remove the liver from the soaking milk.
Put the heat on medium. Add the liver pieces to the skillet. add the salt and pepper and cook for about 10 minutes. The meat should still be a tad pink. Sprinkle the thickener over the meat and stir that around for about 2 minutes. Pour in the 2 cups of milk. Stir, stir. As soon as the gravy bubbles. Remove from the heat. Cover. Get your potatoes mashed or get the rice finished off. Call everyone to the table.Stir the gravy one more time. If you serve at the table, sprinkle the parsley over the meat/gravy in the serving dish. If you eat like we do and dish up plates ta the stove, put a serving of rice/potato on the plate or bowl, ladle over the meat gravy and sprinkle the parsley over each serving.

I promise you the liver will be tender, mild and very satisfying prepared this way.

What to do with the soaking milk? Well, don't give it to the dog. Trust me. The dog will love it -- at first and drink it all up. Then dog will be sick. This is WAY to rich for the dog. I have given a little bit to my elderly cat (about 2 teaspoons) and she liked it too. Usually, I put it down the drain with a little thought of thanks to my septic fairies. But I think this could also go out in your compost as it's got a lot of blood goodness in it. I'm open to any suggestions because I just hate the idea of wasting the milk.

On the other hand, it makes it possible for us to eat liver weekly and enjoy it, so it's not such a waste after all.


  1. This sounds really good, I'm going to try it. I was just wondering though, is sweet milk just normal store bought milk? The sweet part is confusing me.
    Thank you!

    1. Sweet milk as opposed to clabbered milk, butter milk or some other. I use only whole (unskimmed) raw milk. If you are using store bought milk, you may want to add some whipping cream to it. Store bought whole milk is still only 3% cream. Milk straight from the cow is about 5% cream. Creameries remove all the cream from milk then put it back. Skimmed milk has none returned, 2% gets 2% back and whole milk gets 3% back.