The liver of mammals and poultry is a nutrient-rich organ meat that is often overlooked because of its strong taste. However, liver can be delicious when cooked properly.
In this article, I’ll share some tips on how to make liver taste good or, should I say, how to make it taste even better. From preparation to cooking and seasoning, I will show you how this organ meat can be a delicious and nutritious addition to your diet.
Liver Cooking Tips For Absolutely Delicious Results
Liver can be cooked in many different ways, but it’s important to cook it properly to avoid it becoming tough and bitter. Handled with care, this organ meat can be a real delicacy and melt-in-the-mouth tender.
Here are some tips for how to make liver taste good and not bitter or gamey.
1. Choose Fresh Grass-Fed Liver
Liver is sweetest and at its best when really fresh, so always choose the freshest and highest quality organ meat when possible. If you can’t find it fresh, then frozen is a good option once defrosted properly.
When choosing liver at the grocery store or supermarket, pick a piece with a bright reddish-brown color and a moist surface. The liver should have a fresh, clean smell. If it looks slimy, sticky, or smells bad, it is likely spoiled, and you should not purchase it.
Although grass-fed liver is the most nutritious, grain-fed is also a good option and has no difference in taste when appropriately cooked.
Lastly, but quite important, when it comes to the strength or pungency of liver flavor, age, and size of the animal matter. Generally speaking, the older and larger the animal from which the liver came, the stronger the liver will taste.
This is because older, larger animals have had more time to accumulate toxins in their bodies, which are then concentrated in their livers.
So, if you’re looking for a mild liver flavor, go for a younger, smaller animal, but unfortunately, when it comes to supermarket-sold meat and organs, there is no way to determine the animal’s age.
2. Soak The Liver In Milk Before Cooking
The fresh liver has an almost sweet, naturally earthy flavor; however, it can have a slightly bitter taste that some people find unpleasant. Soaking the liver in milk before cooking can help to remove some of the bitterness and make it more palatable.
So, soaking the liver in milk for at least an hour before cooking can help to remove any bitter taste and can also help to tenderize it.
3. Cut The Liver Into Even Stripes Or Cubes
When preparing the liver for cooking, it is best to cut it into 1/4 to 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick stripes or cubes. This will help the liver to cook evenly and quickly. If the liver is cut into very uneven slices, it may not cook evenly, resulting in an uneven texture and flavor.
4. Peel Off The Outer Membrane Before Cooking
The liver is coated with a smooth, thin membrane that is best to be removed before cooking. Leaving the membrane on can make the liver rubbery to eat, and it’s generally not considered palatable.
To remove the membrane, simply cut it with a sharp knife and peel it off with your fingers. Once it’s removed, you can cook the liver as you like.
5. Lightly Coat The Liver Before Cooking
When preparing liver for cooking, many people first dip the slices in salt and pepper seasoned flour. This will create a delicious crisp coating that will help lock in the liver’s natural flavors.
Additionally, the flour will help to keep the liver moist during cooking, preventing it from drying out and becoming tough.
For extra crunch, coat your liver in breadcrumbs before frying.
6. Cook It On A Hot Pan
The pan-fried liver is a quick and easy dish to make. Simply ensure that the oil on the pan or skillet is sizzling hot before adding the liver slices. This will help to seal in the flavor and moisture and prevent the liver from becoming tough and dry.
Cook for a few minutes on each side or until cooked through.
7. Don’t Forget To Add Onions
Onions are a classic pairing with liver because the onions’ sweetness helps offset the liver’s strong flavor. The two ingredients work perfectly together to create a dish that is packed with flavor and texture.
When cooked properly, the onions should be soft and sweet, while the liver should be tender and juicy.
8. Make A Liver Pate
To continue with a previous tip, gently sautéing liver and onions in butter with brandy and seasoning is delicious to eat straight from the pan. However, you can take it a step further and make a delicious liver pate when blitzed in a food processor.
9. Mix The Liver With Ground Beef
You can finely dice the liver and add it to ground beef; this can really help to blend the meat and liver, making it almost indistinguishable from the meat. Adding liver to ground beef can thus create a meal that is not only tasty but also nutritious.
You can use it to make a bolognese sauce, burger patties, meatballs, or you name it.
I often ask my butcher to ground the liver together with beef for easy cooking later.
10. Don’t Forget To Season The Liver
Add plenty of fresh herbs and spices to your liver dish. Some of the best seasonings for cooking liver are kosher salt, coriander, caraway, black pepper, cumin, garlic powder, sage, and smoked paprika. These seasonings go well with liver and will help to enhance the flavor.
11. Serve It With A Gravy
One way to mitigate the strong flavor of the liver is to serve it with a sauce or gravy. This can help mask some of the liver’s taste and make it more palatable for those not used to this nutritious food.
Additionally, serving liver with other strong-flavored foods can help balance out the dish’s overall flavors.
If you follow these tips, I guarantee you will have delicious results.
What Is The Best Liver For Cooking?
There are many different types of liver, each with their own different flavors and qualities. I will share some of the best ones for cooking.
Duck And Goose Liver
Duck and goose liver are considered a delicacy and are featured on the menus of many top restaurants. This is often known as Foie gras, and the method of production has some controversy, as the geese and ducks are force-fed in order to fatten up the liver.
However, there is a more ethically raised alternative called Foie Royale. Foie Royale is produced from free-range geese and ducks that are raised ethically, without forced feeding on farms in Germany.
Duck and goose liver is a delicate, creamy, mild, tasting liver that is usually pan-fried or made into pate. This is often served as a starter.
Chicken liver is another delicate yet cheap and tasty option, which, when slowly poached in butter, makes a delicious liver pate.
Although pale brown or yellowish in color, the chicken liver has a rather strong flavor is also good when sautéed quickly in hot oil with garlic and parsley, seasoned with salt, and freshly ground black pepper. These are particularly delicious and tender when served slightly pink.
Lambs liver is more tender than pork and beef liver and has a bit milder taste than both of them. That is why lamb liver is a good option when you haven’t eaten liver before and just starting to add it to your diet.
Lamb’s liver is best sliced thinly and flash-fried in hot oil or grilled for just a few minutes. It is also best served pink (not bloody or raw), but for those who prefer more well done it can be cooked for a few minutes longer; just be careful not to overcook it as it can quickly become tough.
This is delicious comfort food when traditionally served with caramelized onions and bacon over creamy mash with gravy.
For a slightly lighter dish, it is also good sauteed with sage and thyme and served on toast.
Pork liver can be a little tougher than both beef and lamb liver and often has a pungent and bitter flavor, but it can still be an excellent economical source of vitamins and minerals.
Using these cooking tips above, you can still neutralize its intense flavor. It is best served with stronger flavors and makes a delicious stir fry.
Slice thinly and dip in seasoned flour before quickly stir-frying on high heat and adding your favorite stir-fry sauce. Serve with vegetables and rice or noodles for a quick, filling, delicious meal.
Pork liver also makes a delicious pate.
Beef liver is extremely nutritious organ meat from cows with a delicious, slightly sweet taste, but the taste can be quite strong if the organ is from an older animal or is not cooked properly.
It is a very cheap and popular organ meant that many chefs use and prefers choice for people on a carnivore diet.
Despite the robust and pungent taste, once you follow some of the liver cooking tips above, your dish will turn delicious and palatable for even someone who does not really like to eat liver.
Ingredients That Work Well With Liver
Liver is a rich organ meat, full of flavor, that goes well with various ingredients. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Pair liver with onions for a classic flavor combination. Sautéed onions add sweetness and depth.
- Try adding bacon or chorizo to your liver. The smoky flavor adds a salty and savory element, enhancing the liver’s taste and richness.
- Sautéing liver with butter is a great way to give it a rich flavor. The key to success is to cook the liver over high heat until it is browned on the outside and cooked through on the inside. This will ensure that the liver is moist and juicy, and the butter will add a delicious richness. Since regular butter is not that good for high-heat cooking, I like to use clarified butter instead.
- Add diced apples or pears to your dish for a touch of sweetness. The fruit will also help to balance out the strong flavors of the liver. Try a salad with sauteed liver and a crisp apple. Figs and peaches are also delicious pairings with the liver.
- The earthy flavor of mushrooms also goes well with liver and makes a delicious topping on toast
- Serve liver pate with crisp pickles, such as cornichons; this helps cut through and balance the richness.
- Add fresh herbs to your liver dish; strong-flavored herbs such as sage, rosemary, and thyme work particularly well.
- Experiment with different cuisines, Liver works particularly well with Moroccan, Jamaican, and Middle Eastern flavors.
- Finish the dish with a drizzle of your favorite sauce or gravy. This will add even more flavor and richness to the dish.
Liver can be a delicious and nutritious addition to your diet if you know how to cook it properly. With a few simple tips and cooking techniques, you can make this otherwise ‘unappetizing’ organ into a delicious meal that everyone will enjoy.
I would not say how to make liver taste good but how to make it taste even better. So don’t be afraid to give the liver a try – it just might surprise you!