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Liver, Revived

March 24, 2011
Liver Szapary

Liver is a great nutrient.  A single serving covers more than the required daily amount of vitamins A, B2 and B12 as well as from iron – actually, it offers so much vitamin A, over-indulging in liver may cause hypervitaminosis or vitamin overdose.  Whilst it’s generally recommended for expecting mothers to eat livers as a supply of iron, keep your consumption reasonable, with under 6 ounces of (raw) liver.

However, it does matter how we prepare those 6 ounces.  A lot of people just plain dislike liver, some don’t care for the game-y taste, and some don’t care for the texture being too chewy or rough.  The latter two are easily mended, and a well-prepared, nicely served helping of liver may even overturn those in the first group.

First and foremost, if you want to avoid the excessive “game meat” taste in the liver, you need to soak out the material that gives this flavor.  It’s called myoglobin – a chemical similar to what carries oxygen in blood, but this form stays in the muscles and the liver, helping explosive, sudden muscle power and the recovery from a sudden, fast escape.  It kind of explains why the peaceful life of a domestic chicken with white meat warrants less of this than the wild ways of deers and boars.  But back to the kitchen, the best way to soak out myoglobin whilst keeping the “good” flavors in is soaking the liver (or game meat) in milk.  Keep the liver in a small bowl of milk overnight, or if it’s frozen, thaw it in milk.

To prepare the liver meal (called liver Szapáry in Hungary), you will need the following ingredients:

  • Liver (I used a slice of beef liver, the original calls for pork, but chicken liver is viable, too)
  • About 1/2 of a medium-sized onion
  • Vegetable oil
  • Spices: salt, garlic salt, marjoram leaves, black and white pepper

Now that we’ve readied ourselves, let’s start cooking by spicing the liver.

Liver and Spices

Rub the garlic salt, black pepper, white pepper and marjoram into the liver

Spiced liver

The liver, with all spices rubbed in

Now that the liver is well-spiced, let’s get started on the onion.  When halving the onion, cut it vertically, so the cut surface shows the “leaves” rather than rings, then make thin slices out of the onion.  Always start cutting at the “top” end (the “non-hairy” one), because the “bottom” is what holds the leaves together – this way the onion won’t fall apart as you go.

Onion slicing

Cut thin slices and break the individual half-rings apart

Heat the oil, about 2 tablespoons, in a frying pan over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot, drop in all the onions.  You can test how hot the oil is by dangling in the end of one slice: when it starts to sizzle, the oil is ready for the onions.

Fry the onions to a nice golden brown while stirring.  Lightly salt them around halfway through: this releases some water from them, and helps prevent burning.

Frying Onions

The onions in the frying pan

When they’re all nice and browned, take them out, but save the oil.  Drain the onions on paper towels.

Now the liver!  Return the pan to the burner, still on medium-high, high heat, then start frying the liver.  If you’re using large slices like beef or pork liver, you’ll probably need a spatula to scoop it into the pan, chicken livers you can usually just drop in.  Keep a close watch on the liver:  as soon as the bottom starts to sear and turns to a brownish color, flip it over and drop the heat to about medium, maybe a little lower, and cover the dish.

Searing Liver

The liver is seared, time to turn!

The liver needs a very short time to cook through, usually less than 5 minutes, so don’t leave the kitchen.  When the puddles of blood disappear from the top of the slice, press the liver with the flat side of your tongs or the back of a fork.  If no more blood seeps out, the liver is ready.  Any longer cooking would make it tough and chewy, so quickly take it off the heat and out of the pan.

Now all we have left to do is to serve it!  Place the liver on a plate, and pile all the onions on top of it.  I added no side when I made the pictures, however, it best goes with mashed or plain-boiled potatoes – something that can soak up the juices.  I left part of the liver uncovered on the picture so you can better see the texture and color of the liver itself:

Liver Szapary

The served, ready-to-eat Liver Szapary

Enjoy your meal!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jan permalink
    March 27, 2011 02:03

    I’m not a liver fan at all. But I might try this. Who knew you could OD on liver? 🙂


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