Lots of people don't like offal. For some the flavour is too strong. Others find its textures odd. And a few people I know are, well, a bit squeamish about it all. I work on the principle that if you're happy to eat fillet steak or chicken breast, heart and liver shouldn't pose too much of a problem, either. I grew up eating chopped liver, my cousin and I went on a devilled kidneys kick when we were short of cash, and whenever I'm in Israel, one of the first things I do is procure for myself a me'orav Yerushelami, or a Jerusalem mixed grill, which is basically all the innards of a chicken, cooked. Most offal isn't at all expensive—calves' liver is probably the exception—and it's all highly nutritious. It makes for an excellent quick, cheap supper.
Liver and onions is nothing more than liver and onion gravy. Some people add bacon, I obviously don't. It's very easy to make, entirely delicious, and won't break the bank. If I can afford it, or if it's going cheap, I buy calves' liver, but otherwise it's lambs' liver. Some people recommend soaking liver in milk in order to rid it of a slightly bitter aftertaste it can sometimes have; this isn't something I've ever done. I find that using the freshest liver possible and washing it and drying it well before cooking is sufficient.
This recipe is sufficient for two, but can easily be increased for more people. Just remember not to crowd the liver in the pan when you fry it off initially. Okay? Let's cook!
- 250g (8oz) lambs' liver
- Plain flour, enough to coat the liver and a tablespoon to add to the gravy
- salt and pepper
- 2tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium-sized onion, halved and then sliced into half-moons
- A pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar
- Slug of brandy
- 500ml (1 pint) stock, lamb or beef
Begin by gently dusting the liver slices in the seasoned flour. It needs to be lightly coated, nothing more.
Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large pan and when it is at temperature, quickly fry the liver. You don't want it to be cooked through, so depending on the thickness of the slices this will take between ninety seconds (a minute one side, thirty seconds the other) and four minutes (two-and-half minutes one side, one-and-half the other). Remove the liver to a plate and let it rest.
Add the onion to the pan and cook it off gently in the fat and meat juices. Add a sprinkling of salt to help prevent it sticking and a teaspoon of sugar to help it caramelise. When the onion has browned, which will take around five minutes over a medium heat, add a splash of brandy and deglaze the pan with it.
Next add a tablespoon of flour to the onions and cook it through for a minute before pouring over the stock and stirring well. Bring the gravy to the boil and then turn down the heat to let it bubble gently, cook through, and thicken. This will take approximately 20 minutes.
When the gravy has thickened to your desired consistency, return the liver to the pan to heat through. Remember: you're warming it through, not cooking it. It would have finished cooking when it was standing.
That's it. I'd serve this with mashed potatoes and either green vegetables or braised red cabbage and accompanied by a Claret or a Beaujolais. Old school. And delicious.