Simple Beef Liver and Onion Recipe (That’s Super Flavorful) in 2 Hours 30 Minutes
If you cook beef liver and onion recipe, you will get a delicious dish, packed with vitamins and flavored with a lot of seasonings. It is a great idea for a hearty dinner.
While this isn’t a common recipe, it can be really tasteful if you take into consideration some tips for cooking the liver.
I am well aware of the fact that not many people like to eat organs but I believe this is mainly due to the fact that they are not cooked properly. I can totally understand why you wouldn’t want to try this recipe in the first place.
Maybe thinking about liver brings you childhood memories when your mother fed you with beef organs and told you they were healthy. But you hated that dishes.
Most of the children do.
Except for me. I loved fried chicken liver and asked my mom to cook it pretty often. Later on, I discovered beef liver and loved it too.
On the other hand, I pretty much can enjoy any food if it is properly cooked. Except for cilantro. And sushi. But again, these are my personal preferences.
A Bit of History about Organ Meats
Did you know that the term “offal” used for organs has a similar pronunciation with “awful” which may lead to people disliking this type of meats.
One other reason some persons may be reluctant when it comes to eating organs can be the fact that we are way apart from our food sources. Everything is standardized, industrialized and commercialized.
We only buy food from store and only few of us come in contact with gardens and farms where veggies and fruits are cultivated and animals are grown. Therefore, we often forget that animals also have internal organs apart from sirloin, tenderloin, breast and steak. Food is put into boxes, fortified with synthetic nutrients, wrapped in plastic and displayed in shelves and refrigerators.
You probably know that things weren’t always like that. People didn’t use to eat only muscle meat. Instead, many traditional cuisines from around the world valued the internal organs from the animals and many dishes had them as main ingredients. They ate all of them: kidneys, liver, hearts, tripe.
Dr. Weston A. Price studied a lot of people from many cultures known to be healthy and full of vitality. He noticed that their diet included lots of organs which were eaten frequently. Moreover, tribes who have hunting as a primary occupation eat the brain and heart first. It is said that the intelligence and strength of the animal would pass on to the humans this way.
It is good to know that even after the modern farming appeared, people still enjoyed the organ meats. They were considered delicacies and a privilege for the wealthy class. The main reason is that offal offers a smaller quantity of meat and brings less satiety than muscle meat for example. Only reach people could afford this special treat.
In the 18th century industrialized farming broke through. That was the moment when people started to consume less organ meats. The number of slaughterhouses increased and so did the variety of commercial techniques.
Consequently, the quantity of available meat expanded and the prices went down. Kidneys, hearts and livers are delicate meats. Producers faced the difficulty of storing them properly. Finally, they became more and more expensive and nobody was able to produce offal on mass scale. Therefore, they sold it for animal food or discarded it.
It is true that factory farming produced an extended amount of meat at a smaller price which is good and beneficial for many people. However, we should acknowledge that there were (and still are) some consequences to this method. One of them is that we don’t know where our food is coming from. Which is sad, in my opinion. Also, I believe that consuming all parts of an animal instead of throwing half of it away is a form of respect.
Another reason why we lost contact with our food sources was the appearance of the supermarkets back in the early 1900s. Chain grocery stores had a great contribution to the way Americans eat.
Since pork liver or beef liver are not easy to transport and don’t keep well for long periods of time, it soon disappeared from the stores shelves.
Prior to the debut of the large stores, people used to buy meat from butcher shops. They chose different types of fresh meat and organs and also received cooking tips. These shops had to close their doors due to chain grocery stores and along with them the knowledge on how to store, prepare and cook cow liver or calf liver disappeared too.
Correspondingly, people started to buy only meats that were easy to store and cook.
Why Should We Eat Beef Liver and Onions?
What happened was a misfortune because of the nutritional value organs have to offer. Cow liver and heart, beef liver and tripe are filled with a lot of nutrients we are missing out if we do not include these meats in our diet. Iron, zinc or B vitamins are only a few examples of the compounds we may find in offal.
Those health benefits were probably intuitively acknowledged by traditional cultures long before science research conformed the fact.
There is a strong debate on the idea that since liver is an organ that filters toxins it also holds those toxins. Many people assume that, for this reason, eating offal is not healthy. Liver has the role of removing toxins from the body.
Its job is to neutralize threats like chemical agents, drugs or poison. But is doesn’t store these toxins. In case the body cannot take away and release poisonous compounds, these will remain stored in the fatty tissues and nervous system. Beef and pork liver do not store toxins.
Instead they have plenty of vitamins, such as D, A, K, E, B12 or folic acid. Liver also contains iron and copper. In fact, these are some of the tools our bodies can use to get rid of toxins.
One thing we have to consider is the source of the food, as I said earlier. It is always preferable to buy organ meats from a trusted organic source. If the animals were raised outdoors, you can be sure that their liver is filled with nutrients. When the organs come from factory farming it is likely for you to ingest some antibiotics or growth hormones.
However, if you want to bring back organs in your diet, I strongly suggest you try this beef liver and onion recipe.
It is true that beef liver can have a slightly metallic taste and this is one obvious reason people avoid it. The moment you learn to cook it properly you will want to enjoy it every week.
You will find a lot of beef liver recipes out there. But I believe that the first thing you need to know is that you can get rid of the metallic taste by soaking the liver in milk or buttermilk for a couple of hours prior to cooking it.
How to Cook Beef Liver?
After choosing an organic beef liver, you need to prepare it for cooking. Wash with cold water and then place it in a bowl or a stainless steel pot. Cover with milk or buttermilk. Either one works just fine.
Besides from counteracting the harsh taste, soaking the meat tenderizes it. You can use this tip for pork liver or cow liver too.
Let the liver soak for at least two hours. If the weather is warm cover the bowl and place it in the fridge. Liver is a perishable meat and you might end up with no food to cook.
It is possible you find the smell of the liver cooking not so nice. Soaking it helps with that too, it normalizes the flavor.
Most of the beef liver recipes will fry it. When you do that, pay attention to the cooking time. It only needs to be cooked until no longer pink.
Also the discarded juices need to lose the pink color. In case you leave it too much over heat, the liver will become elastic and hard.
All the pleasure or enjoying it will be gone.
Butter (or a substitute), vegetable oil, ghee, are all perfect for frying the liver. I personally prefer to also add some wine in the end to tenderize the liver no matter if I use beef, pork or calf liver.
How to Cook Liver and Onions?
When cooking beef liver and onion recipe, don’t add the wine after frying the liver.
Remove it from heat and don’t wipe out the pan. We use a non-stick pan here.
Melt some more butter.
Sautee the onion rings for a few minutes until translucent. Add half of cup of white wine. Simmer for a few minutes until the alcohol evaporates.
Bring back the liver slices and cook together for a few more minutes. Serve immediately as the dish tastes amazing when warm.
How to Make Liver and Onions With Gravy?
To prepare this beef liver and onion recipe you will also need flour and beef broth. The liver slices need to be coated with a mix of flour and seasonings.
After cooking both liver and onions, you will add the beef broth, cover with a lid and simmer until the liquid turns into a delicious gravy.
- 1 pound beef liver
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2 pcs garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 pcs large onions, sliced into rings
- 1 pcs red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 tbsp butter, divided
- ½ cup dry white wine
- Few sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Rinse the liver and place it in a bowl. Cover with the buttermilk, give a light stir and set aside for at least 2 hours.
- After that, take the beef liver out of the buttermilk. Rinse again and pat dry with paper towels. Cut the liver in slices, I personally prefer small ones but you may leave them larger.
- Melt together ½ tablespoon of oil and ½ tablespoon of butter.
- Cook the garlic for about 1 minute until fragrant.
- Add the liver slices and fry until no longer pink. The discarded juices need to lose their pink color too. This will take about 3-4 minutes on each side. Make sure you don’t overcook the liver or it will become hard.
- Remove the liver from the pan but do not wipe out unless there are many burnt bits.
- Melt the remaining oil and butter. Add the onion rings and cook for 3-4 minutes. Also bring in the red bell pepper. I like my food to have splashes of color and this is one reason I’ve added the bell pepper. The other reason is that it gives a lot of flavor to this dish. Cook for 3-4 minutes more.
- Pour the white wine. Reduce the heat to low, add the beef liver slices and simmer for 5 more minutes until the alcohol evaporates.
- Top with the fresh thyme, cover with a lid and leave it to rest for five minutes.
- Serve immediately after that!
- You may enjoy the beef liver recipes with rice or potatoes, grilled vegetables or couscous. Choose any side dish you prefer, it will work just well even if it is a simple salad. I must confess I like to eat it just as it is many times, without adding any other side dish.
- Whether you choose any other type of meat, like pork liver or calf liver, the recipe is suitable in this case too.
- Enjoy and don’t be afraid to cook it more than once!