My Pappaw loved braunschweiger (also called liverwurst…?) on crusty bread with brown mustard. I remember cutting myself a little sliver of this spreadable liver sausage when I was about five or six, reasoning that if Pappaw liked it, it must be good. And it was…kinda. But I don’t think he ever convinced me to try it again.
Then, somehow, inexplicably, I grew up to be a liver eater.
A few years ago, Micah and I got on a kick where we would make open-faced sandwiches by toasting a piece of bread topped with braunschweiger, thick-sliced tomato, and a generous helping of extra sharp cheddar. That was pretty darn tasty, and I’m kind of wondering–why has it been, like, three years since we made one of these?
Aside from this deli meat, I’ve somehow managed to sample plenty of other liver dishes in the last five or six years, maybe because I married a man who hates normal things like broccoli but loves to eat pretty much anything weird.
Micah and I enjoyed the beer-battered fried chicken livers at Farm Burger in Decatur, Georgia, so much that we asked for–and received–the recipe. (When Micah tried to replicate our magical crispy-fried liver experience at home, he managed to set the kitchen on fire…but we still got to eat some livers, and they were delicious, and our house didn’t burn down.)
We’ve had various liver pâtés and mousses at some of our favorite restaurants, and they’ve all been amazing. If you’re ever in Savannah, eat at Cha Bella and cross your fingers that the chicken liver mousse is on the menu that night. Same for Empire State South in Atlanta. And the butcher board at Farm 255 here in Athens often includes a liver mousse that’s perfect with some of their buttery grilled bread and house-made pickles.
Even a few controversial liver delicacies have made it onto our plates, including monkfish liver (which is freaking amazing, but unsustainably over-fished) and foie gras (even more heavenly, though the folks at PETA might challenge Chef Dan Barber to a knock-down, drag-out brawl over it one of these days).
Now that I’ve got the guts to try just about anything, I’m a liver lover at heart…but there’s one animal’s organ meat that I still can’t quite stomach.
Micah convinced me that we should buy a beef kidney a few years ago. It was one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever tasted. It looked, smelled, and tasted like cat food…but even Cheesepuff and Magellan wouldn’t eat it.
Only slightly better was the beef liver, which we cooked just a few weeks after that awful kidney experience. We breaded it and fried it and sprinkled it with lemon juice and ate it on tacos, and it was….pretty gross.
So when one of our Moonshine Meats CSA orders a while back included a pound of beef liver, I tucked that little vacuum-sealed package deep in the cavernous reaches of our freezer and crossed my fingers that the appliance elves might make off with it before Micah remembered that he wanted to try cooking beef livers again.
He found that bag o’ beef liver last week and put it in the fridge to defrost.
Yay. More cow guts.
We looked at different preparations before finally settling on this recipe for Barbecued Beef Liver from Allrecipes.com, because the description promised,
“Beef liver simmered in a sweet and tangy sauce will tempt the picky eaters in your family! Even our teenagers like this.”
And one reviewer said,
“This recipe is the bomb!!!! The liver taste is gone. I eat it likes its hamburger.”
(Plus, we figured that smothering almost anything, even a hunk of organ meat, goes down easier with a heaping helping of barbecue sauce.)
So smother we did, with lots of barbecue sauce and a big pile of leftover mashed potatoes from Friday night’s dinner.
The mashed potatoes were delicious, of course. The barbecue sauce was sweet and tangy, just as promised. But the beef liver…well, it still tasted like beef liver. Thank goodness the ratio of taters to sauce to liver was something like 5:4:1.
If you like beef liver, by all means, try this recipe! And if you don’t like beef liver, just skip the first few ingredients and make the barbecue sauce, because it would be pretty tasty on pretty much anything…even, kind of, on beef liver. 🙂
What’s in it:
- 1 pound of beef liver, thinly sliced (we soaked ours overnight in lemon juice, though we also could’ve used milk)
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 4 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3/4 cup canned diced tomatoes
- 1/3 cup Pabst Blue Ribbon
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- Whisk together the ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, canned tomatoes, and beer. Enjoy the rest of the PBR while you cook those stupid beef livers, if you have to. (If you don’t like beef liver, I recommend only doing this step and skipping all the rest.)
- Mix the flour, salt, and pepper in a plastic bag. Add the liver slices, seal the bag, and shake it up to coat the liver.
- Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the liver pieces to the skillet and brown on both sides.
- Pour in your barbecue sauce, bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes.
- To serve: put the liver at the very bottom of your bowl or plate. Ladle on a very generous helping of your delicious barbecue sauce, and pile on a big heap of mashed potatoes for good measure. Make sure every bite includes a tiny tidbit of liver smothered by plenty of the other stuff in your bowl.
Micah and I tend to agree on most food-related subjects, but as we ate supper tonight, he said he would make this recipe again. (Really?) I guess that means he’s in charge of finishing our leftover liver, since he’s clearly more of a liver lover than I’ll ever be.