Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Liver Hoagies

All together now... yuck!
For most Americans, liver is right up there with Brussels sprouts in the hall of childhood terrors, and harder to find in the supermarket. On top of that, due to its function as a waste-processing plant, most commercial liver represents a compaction of all the unhealthy pesticides, antibiotics and unnatural additives that found their way into our food's feed.
But if you can avail yourself of chemical-free or preferably pasture-raised liver, it is an unparalleled source of vitamins (A, B6, B12 and C), copper, folate, iron, niacin, phosphorus, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin and zinc - depending on the animal's diet, of course. I would expect a grass-fed cow liver to have more folate than a corn-fed chicken's, for example.
Stephen's reactions to the first few times I made liver were like finding out that Christmas was canceled. The first breakthrough came when I marinated lamb liver in teriyaki sauce and stir-fried it with bell peppers. Stephen actually liked it. This time, I employed a two-layer flavoring technique, first marinating the pieces in a Chinese sauce, cooking them with browned onions, and then tossing them in a Dijon vinaigrette. Served with crunchy cucumber slices on crusty sourdough bread, chicken liver finally became delicious. Stephen loved it.

The Marinade:
1/4 lb. chicken livers, chopped into 1/4" strips
1 Tbs hoisin sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp Chinese Shaoxing wine (or sherry)
1 Tbs brown rice vinegar
1 tsp dark Muscovado sugar or honey
1/2" ginger, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

Rinse the livers, then combine all marinade ingredients and pour over in a shallow dish. Cover and refrigerate about 6 hours.

The Vinaigrette:
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon-style mustard
1/4 tsp salt

Whisk together ingredients and set aside until the liver is cooked. While you're at it, cut four slices of hearty sourdough bread, and toast them if you like.

The Assembly:
1 onion (if you like it 'wit')
1 tsp organic lard, olive oil or butter
1/2 cucumber, sliced

Slice one onion as thinly as possible (I used a mandolin for gorgeous paper-thin slices!) and saute over medium heat. When the onion is browned, remove the liver from the marinade, taking care to discard any chunks of ginger or garlic. Add the liver to the pan and reduce heat to low, stirring constantly just until the pieces are no longer pink. Remove from heat and toss with vinaigrette. Lay the bread slices on two plates, topping them with the fresh cucumber slices and a generous heap of liver and onions. Enjoy them hot! Were I to make it again, I would add some thinly-sliced hard cheese (not Wiz!) for a more-or-less proper Philly experience. You won't find this one at Geno's!

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