Sunday, 27 October 2013

Gourmet food at an unbelievable value

I’m a bit loath to spread this about as the price is bound to go up but the more of the animal we eat the less I have to stress about being a carnivore.
Tesco Beef Liver £1.70Kg
Waitrose Calves liver £34.99Kg
The gory facts are that beef cattle are generally slaughtered just before 30 months, so still quite young. Beef liver is almost undistinguishable from calf’s liver, a fraction of the price, and we are eating more of the animal.
So, a gourmet meal for two for 70p (yes that’s for two people!)
I was brought up on liver but if you have never tried it you must. Hunters will kill a deer and cut out the liver & eat it raw, still warm. Bit extreme for me but liver cooked properly is nothing to be scared of. It is better than the best fillet steak. Tender and tasty, once you try it you won’t go back. It’s not gamey or offally and at this price you would be a fool not to at least try it.
If you have tried pigs and lambs liver (especially in casseroles) and not enjoyed the experience, forget all that. Beef liver, flash fried, is something else.
Traditionally I would go for liver, bacon and onion gravy. So start with some onions and butter in a small saucepan with a lid. Let them stew on the stove on a low heat.  When the onion starts to caramelise add enough water to make gravy, a bay leaf, thyme & sage and warm through to let the herbs infuse.
The meat is vac packed so empty it into a bowl of cold water, this gets rid of any blood and it soon gets much more pleasant. Place in a sieve or colander to drain.
Now make up some seasoned flour. Plain flour, salt and pepper, don’t get fancy, the liver is the star. The easiest way is to put this in a sandwich bag. The liver is probably in slices a few mm thick but might need cutting into manageable pieces to fry. Dry the liver on kitchen roll, both sides, drop into the bag of flour and shake until coated. take the coated meat out of the bag and place on a plate, ready to fry.
Then place some dry cure bacon in a frying pan, two rashers per person.  Cook until crispy and all the fat runs out. Remove the bacon and keep warm in an oven at 100C.
Use the pan and fat to fry the liver, a couple of pieces at a time. Then keep warm with the bacon until it is all ready. The liver only needs a couple of minutes on each side, it should melt in the mouth, not be like leather.
With the liver keeping warm it’s time to make the gravy. Put a large knob of butter in the same frying pan and as it melts use a wooden spoon to loosen all the crispy bits in the bottom. Then add a couple of table spoons of left over seasoned flour and cook through to form rue. Now, SLOWLY add the water from the onions, make sure the flour absorbs all the liquid before adding more. Discard the bay leaf. As the gravy cooks it will thicken, give it a taste and if it needs extra flavour crumble in some of a beef stock cube, it probably won’t need a whole one so add and taste until you are happy. Finally add the onions and heat through.
Everything is now ready to serve. My choice would be to have it with buttery mashed potato and lightly cooked white cabbage. The sweetness of the cabbage, onions and liver is perfect with the saltiness of the bacon, mash & gravy.
Just make sure there is plenty of gravy.

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