Yesterday evening, I found myself in the kitchen with some lovely red potatoes, spring asparagus, lots of yellow onions, rich chicken bone broth, and a fresh pork liver.
You see, last Saturday, Dillon butchered our hog, and it’s all been sitting in coolers in ice this week, aging and draining before processing day, which is tomorrow. When he was doing the pig, Dillon cut off some chunks of loin, which I had the privilege of cooking for breakfast the next morning (fried crispy) and then for Monday night’s dinner (pan-seared with herbs). It was excellent both times, but then, it was the easy meat.
What I’ve been really looking forward to — cooking, that is, not necessarily eating — are the organ meats. I’ve made chicken liver pate before (not a good first-trimester-pregnancy recipe) and added ground venison liver to meatballs and cabbage rolls (too much. too much liver). But here was a very fresh heart and very fresh liver from a well-raised pig, and I was determined to do it justice.
So I got home from shopping on Thursday, planning to make a version of marinated pig heart. (I found the recipe — and a glorious blog that makes my heart happy — by googling “Do people eat pig heart?”) But I had forgotten to ask Dillon to pull it out of the bottom of the ice chest for me, so I got my Ziploc bag of lemon juice and brought it out to the porch and froze my hands off trying to find the heart. I did find the liver, so that’s what I put in the bag.
Yellow onions were on sale at Aldi that day. So were red potatoes. So was asparagus. This meal was clearly meant to be. It was also a very busy and tired day and a rather messy process, so no camera-fiddling was meant to be.
When the liver had soaked in its juice for a few hours and dinner preparation time came around, I pulled the bag out of the fridge. I mixed up a plate of flour, salt, and pepper, started heating a big gob of bacon grease in the skillet, and set the oven to warm. Then I rinsed off the liver and sliced it all into thin strips. I wished that I had done so before rinsing and soaking, but hey. It still worked. There was hardly any blood to rinse, unlike with deer liver. Once the oil was hot, I floured the strips and fried them until both sides were crispy and brown. As each skilletful finished, I put it on a baking sheet in the oven.
Meanwhile, I cut up three big onions into slices (and started my potatoes boiling. and trimmed my asparagus. and gave Howard snacks). So when the last liver pieces were in the oven, and there was only a little grease left in the skillet, I threw in the mound of onions to saute. I got kind of a break from dinner preparation while they were cooking down. When they were finally completely soft and caramelly, I added several tablespoons of butter, sprinkled in enough flour to absorb the butter, and poured in a quart of chicken broth. It thickened pretty quickly, but I had enough time to cook the asparagus and season the potatoes. And pick up a few things off the floor.
There it was. Liver and onions.
I was a bit nervous to taste it. I put quite a bit of thought and care into preparing this valuable and maligned meat, and I wanted it to be a pleasant experience, not a dutiful choking down of something you’d rather leave.
And it was pleasant.
The liver had a very mild, almost sweet flavor, nothing disagreeable at all. The texture was a little, well, different; it’s quite soft, without the satisfyingly sturdy texture of muscle meat. The custom of smothering it in onion gravy is a there for a reason. But we all ate it with honest relish. And we ate the leftovers today for lunch, again with relish.
I consider that a success. I wasn’t quite satisfied with it, though, because the liver and the onions were both so sweet that they sorely needed a little acid balance in the gravy. Next time, I’ll add a good half cup of dry wine or the juice of a lemon. That should be the perfect touch.
Has anyone else tried making and/or eating pork liver? What was your experience? There is still some left to cook again, so I’m interested to hear ideas!