Friday, January 18, 2013

Seared Lamb's Liver with Crispy Sage and Potato Hash

Sometimes I'm torn between sharing something wonderful with the world or keeping it selfishly to myself. I feel this way about offal. I suppose some people are turned off by eating the organs of an animal, but I think this stems largely from a fear of the unknown. A coworker recently told me that she could never eat an animal's organ, despite having no problem eating its meat. When I asked her why, she simply didn't have an answer; she pondered a moment, and could only say that it just didn't seem appetizing. I can hardly blame her---most people feel exactly the same way. Perhaps before I became the keen and curious cook I am now, I may have felt the same way.  Now if you've read any number of entries on this blog, you're probably quite expecting me to leap atop my well-worn soap box and encourage people to eat more offal because it is very high in iron and shows the animal respect, among other things. 

On the contrary, I will instead discourage people from eating it. 

This way it stays cheap and plentiful for people like me. 

Here's the deal, I bought a very large, fresh lamb's liver for a grand total of three dollars. This was enough meat to feed two hungry adults. Moreover, it came from a naturally raised, free range, locally reared lamb. The original owner of the liver had been slaughtered no less than 48 hours before I ate it (meat must be aged, offal must be fresh). To buy the same weight in lamb chops from this animal would cost you ten times as much. Liver is also undeniably delicious, sumptuously tender and an absolute breeze to cook.  Why would I want to ruin this sweet little racket that us 'offal eaters' have? So make no attempt to seek it out and drive up the prices...

...unless of course, I have piqued you're curiousity. If you must know, liver does indeed have a texture that is different than meat. It has a certain graininess to it, but it is also infinitely more tender than the best aged loin chop. It is forgiving to cook and easy to prepare. Once you embrace it, you'll find that it melts in your mouth like nothing else and that its slightly coppery tang is no better and certainly no worse than the pleasantly bloody taste found in a rather rare rib eye steak.  Don't take me word for it, try it out yourself. 

...or on second thought, don't. 

Lamb's Liver and Sage Potato Hash with bacon

1 fresh lambs liver
3 medium russet potatoes, peeled
1 strip of bacon
Half an onion, sliced thinly
1 clove of garlic, chopped finely
10 sage leaves
A few tbs of butter
Some oil for sauteeing
Salt and Pepper

Although it is not necessary, liver benefits greatly from a wee bath before eating. I soaked my liver in a bowl that contained half milk and half water and had a few generous pinches of salt. Ideally, this would be left overnight to draw out the blood, but a few hours can suffice. (I put the liver in the milk in the morning, and it was ready to fry by lunch). Before preparing, remove the liver from the milk, pat dry with kitchen paper and then slice into large strips. Cut away the membranes (the white tough parts). Set the liver aside in a cool place until you're ready to use it.

Now, sort out your potatoes. Dice the potatoes into chunks that are slightly smaller than bite size. Then blanch them in boiling salted water for approximately five to six minutes until they are 75% cooked through. Then set them aside to dry and steam. In the mean time, get some oil going in the pan and fry the sage leaves with a generous pinch of salt. The leaves will start to go crispy within a few minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the sage and get it onto some kitchen paper to drain. Next, toss the onions into the pan (add a bit more oil if you have to), and cook them down for about six or seven minutes till translucent. Throw in your garlic and allow it combine and saute slightly with the onions, then remove the onions and garlic and put aside. Now get your strip of bacon and get into the pan. Cook until crispy and remove. Now get the heat up a bit so that the oil and bacon fat start to get really hot and then throw in your potato chunks. Toss them in the oil and fry until the start to become golden, shaking the pan frequently. After a further eight to ten minutes, the potatoes should be golden and crispy. Remove from the pan and season with salt and pepper. Get the onions, the bacon and the potatoes onto a plate into a warm oven. Completely wash out your pan and then get it on to the heat with a solid knob of butter tossed in. When the butter starts to just take a bit of colour, generously season the liver with salt and pepper and get into the pan. Liver can be eaten medium rare which will only require a  minute or so on each side. Perhaps because of my English heritage, I prefer my liver closer to medium-medium well, which means it will have a bit of blush in the middle but will be relatively firm  and have a snappy crust on the outside. It's up to you how you like it. Either way, no more than a few minutes on each side will do. The liver doesn't need to rest for as long as a steak does, and in fact, will get cold quite quickly, so don't doddle. While the liver rests, get your reserved potatoes, onions, garlic and sage leaves back into the hot buttery pan and warm through. Get the potatoes on the plate, top with the tender liver slices, drape the bacon slice on top of the works and sprinkle crispy sage leaves over everything. Serve immediately with a glass of stout or a wee dram of whisky.  


  1. You need to make this for me. I truly believe that everything is delicious if done properly but was raised by a mom that barely ate meat an gagged at the idea of offals