I went out to dinner with my friend the other night at a nice, organic restaurant, and he ordered liver with onions. I, having milled around Paleohacks for quite some time, knew there was a lot of hype about it, so when his order came, I asked to try a bite.
It tasted like breathing in the smell of elephant shit at a zoo.
I'm not even kidding you, this is EXACTLY what came to mind. Was this just a fluke, or does all liver have a very... Unique flavor?
I love liver. I actually like the taste and texture. I can just grill it, season with salt and pepper and eat it straight. Yum. Maybe your liver was overcooked. I like mine medium rare--slightly pink inside and oozy when cut with a knife.
Did your friend like it? Maybe it's personal preferences.
I made liver (Calf) and onions for my hubby a few years ago and did EVERYTHING I could to lessen the potency, like rinsing, and soaking it in milk. THe smell is pretty strong, and husband said "It tastes like a nosebleed" and that was that. I have not made liver again. However, he will eat sweetbreads, which has a hint of the same liver-funk, but is totally tolerable. Maybe try those first?
I love liver and find it tasty, but I don't like fried liver and onions. It smells terrible when cooked, and the onions somehow make it worse.
I get really fresh (frozen) liver and I just sear it, to cut down any funk.
Liver does have a unique taste, smell and texture. It is fairly similar between mammals (beef, pork, chicken, etc). But for example I have had eel liver which is pretty different.
However, different varieties and preparations of liver are more mild and taste closer to muscle meat. Calf's liver for example is milder than that of an adult animal.
If it is overcooked it can be particularly awful (awful offal, ha ha). When I make it, I soak it in fresh squeezed lemon juice for about 10-15 minutes and then rinse it, which takes away some of the pungency. I fry it at high heat with duck or bacon fat which sears the outside and leaves the inside tender.
Some restaurants seem to try to make it taste as livery as possible by picking large, tough pieces and cooking them to death, as if that were a good thing.
I grew up eating liver and love it. My mom used to make liver dumpling soup, which is ground liver mixed with eggs and flour and then cooked in beef broth, which I loved. I went on to like it cooked any which way. My son (age 9) also likes it, in fact when I tell him we're having liver he says "yum!" and gets excited. I have never forced him to eat it or made a big deal about it, I just put it in front of him one night and he liked it. So it is possible to actually like it without being forced to eat it.
If you want to ease into it, I would try some pates that have a significant amount of liver, then maybe try liver dumpling soup (the traditional kind is not paleo because of the flour), and then maybe try some well-prepared calf's liver.
BACON. Clearly it needs bacon.
Seriously, thinly sliced calves liver cooked quickly in some bacon fat, with a side of onions caramelized in bacon fat, and a side of bacon is just wonderful.
Unless you're just one of those people who will never like liver. It's so full of great nutrients that it's worth a few tries to get used to it if you can.
I was afraid to try liver because I remember liverwurst smelling AWFUL. I bought some liverwurst from U.S. Wellness meats and put it in the freezer. Finally got the guts to take it out the other day and I sauteed chunks of it in butter. I didn't mind it at all! It is pretty mild compared to stuff I've had in the past. It also has hearts, etc.. in it. I like it with bell pepper or scrambled egg. I'll try onions too.
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