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Quite a lot of people think that they don’t like liver. And if their only experience of it is the stewed beef liver that was served  at school, then I can fully understand them having a prejudice against it. But please give liver another chance. Think more those gorgeous liver pates and less the shoe leather of the aforementioned school dinners.

Veal liver is the most tender and has a gentle flavour and smooth texture. In France it is frighteningly expensive (24€ a kilo last time I was there) it is so highly prized. Buy it cut into thin slices so that it cooks quickly. It is ideal for the Liver in Breadcrumbs below.

Pork liver not only has a very good texture and the sweetest flavour of all the livers, it is also very economically priced. Despite the Liver with Tomato Pilav being a dish from Turkey, which is Muslim, we always used pigs liver to make it. The Liver in Breadcrumbs recipe also suits pigs liver very well.

There are some golden rules to cooking liver successfully.

Firstly never cover it, the steam makes the liver go tough and rubbery. Secondly never cook the liver in a sauce or any other liquid as this has the same effect as the steam. You can fry the liver, but then remove it from the pan to a warm plate while you use the juices in the pan to make a sauce. The liver can then be returned to the pan to be heated through in the sauce, but no more than that. If you have heated it through and find that you are not ready to serve for whatever reason, then turn off the heat and rewarm when you are ready and don’t cover it. One of the reasons that school dinner liver was so leathery was that it was kept warm for extended periods in gravy with a lid on.

The third golden rule is not to overcook the liver. It wants to still be pink in the centre when cut into. If you are unpractised at knowing when it is enough cooked, just take a piece out of the pan when you think that you may be about there and cut into it, it should be pink in the middle, but not red and bloody.

Often when the liver has been taken out of the pan while you make a sauce or in this case finish the Pilav, juices will flow from the liver, this doesn’t mean that it is not cooked enough.

FRIED LIVER PIECES WITH TOMATO PILAV

Throughout our teenage years either my sister Trisha or I cooked this dish for the whole family almost every Saturday lunchtime. It was taught to us by our father who is from Sarajevo the capital of Bosnia. This area was for over five hundred years part of the Ottoman empire, and it was not until we were holidaying in Turkey on a Gulet together with some friends and had this dish served to us that we realised that it is a Turkish dish. Our cook on the boat – Hali – made it for all of us one lunch time, and our friends loving it wondered how it was made, to which Trisha and I announced in unison that we could make it with our eyes closed!IMG_0119

For 4 people

1 large or two medium onions – finely chopped

1 red pepper – cut into strips – optional

500 grams liver cut into bite sized pieces

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil for frying

200 grams long grain rice

250 grams peeled plum tomatoes – either freshly peeled or tinned

Fresh flat leaved parsley – roughly chopped

Firstly put the rice on to boil. Use your usual method but you want the rice slightly under cooked.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onions and peppers if you are using them. Fry over a moderate heat until the onions are lightly browned.

Season the liver pieces with salt and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Add to the pan with the onions and cook stirring from time to time until the liver is just cooked. This will take about ten minutes. Do not cover. If the pan is covered the liver will steam and go tough.

To see if the liver is cooked enough, take out a piece and cut into it. It should be pink inside. If it is red inside it is not cooked enough and if it is brown you have gone too far.

Not cooked enough

Not cooked enough

Just right

Just right

Remove the liver from the pan leaving behind the onions, pepper if used and the juices. Add the tomatoes to the remains of the pan and stir to mix. Cook over a higher heat until the tomatoes have deepened in colour and cooked.

Drain the rice and add to the tomatoes. Stir well to mix together and cook for a couple of minutes for the flavour of the tomatoes to penetrate the rice.

Add the liver and mix again. Cook a minute or two for the liver to rewarm. Stir in the parsley. Serve with a green salad.

LIVER SLICES BREADCRUMBED WITH GARLIC AND ROSEMARYIMG_0115

This is a very simple dish and was very popular when I put in on the menu in restaurants where I worked.

Either veal or pigs liver cut into thin escalope style slices

Beaten egg

Breadcrumbs

Garlic, finely chopped

Fresh rosemary, finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil or duck or bacon fat for frying

Put the breadcrumbs in a shallow dish and season with the garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. Be generous with the garlic and herbs as coatings are a little like marinades in that the flavours tend to disappear in the cooking.

Heat the fat or oil in a pan large enough to take all the liver slices.

Dip the slices in the beaten egg to coat them and then into the breadcrumbs likewise to coat them, making sure that you have and even coating of breadcrumbs all over the slice.

Fry on a medium heat until crisp and golden on each side.

Serve with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over.

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