Many countries around the world celebrate eating nose to tail, but the liver is not a popular menu item here in the states. I always try to introduce uncommon cuts of meat to others in a way that is approachable.
My recipe takes the familiarity of venison liver and onions, and adds a Spanish influence. The onions are caramelized and served in a sweet sherry sauce seasoned with a healthy dose of smoked paprika and garnished with fresh parsley and toasted slivered almonds.
I’m not sure why, but the best liver seems to come from a younger deer. Note that if you were to purchase beef liver from the store, what you’re actually buying is calf liver.
Most butcher shops will peel the outer membrane that covers the liver for you, but as hunters we have to become butchers and process it ourselves. I’ve gotten a lot of mixed reviews when it comes to this outer membrane.
Many people don’t bother taking it off, but some believe it is a necessity. One thing is for sure, though, the liver needs to soak for at least an hour to drain the blood out of the meat. The recipe below includes a few different options for you to try.
- Liver from a young deer (1 1/2 – 2 lb.)
- Salted water, lemon water or milk for soaking
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 T almond meal
- 3/4 C sherry
- 1/4 C stock (poultry or game)
- 2-3 sprigs of thyme
- 1 1/2 t.smoked paprika
- Pat of butter to finish
- Fat for cooking (Oil/butter)
- salt and pepper
- Garnish: toasted slivered almonds and fresh chopped parsley
Removing the thin membrane that covers the liver is an optional step that helps with the overall texture of the meat. To do so, you can try to “peel” the outside while the liver is still whole, or do so after it has been cut into slices using scissors or a sharp knife. Also, cut out any large membranes or vessels.
Slice the liver into 1/4” thin pieces and soak in salted cold water (ratio of 2 T salt dissolved in 4 C water), acidic water (juice of half a lemon in 4 C water) or milk for at least one hour. Rinse well and repeat as necessary to drain the blood from liver.
Pat the sliced liver dry with paper towels before cooking and season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Mash the cloves of garlic into a pulp using a mortar and pestle (or using the back of a knife and mincing to form a paste) to release the fragrant oil.
Preheat a large sauté pan over high heat and add a tablespoon of oil or butter. Sear each slice for two minutes per side until brown. Don’t overcook or the texture will be rubbery. Set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium high. Add an additional tablespoon of oil/butter and sprinkle in the sliced onion. Cook the onions down for several minutes until translucent and are just about to start caramelizing. Add the garlic and almond meal. Cook for one additional minute and deglaze the pan with sherry, scrapping up the fond at the bottom. Add the stock, sprigs of thyme and smoked paprika. Stir to incorporate and allow the sauce to gently simmer and reduce for another 5-8 minutes. Turn the heat off the burner and swirl in a pat of butter to finish. Return the sliced liver to the pan and garnish with slivered almonds and chopped parsley.