Liver gets a bad rap. It says a lot about a meat that folks typically cover up their poorly prepared liver with something as strong as onions.
However, with the right preparation and sauce, liver is more tender and just as delicious as any cut of beef. Leave it to Hannibal Lecter to suggest to us a fine pairing of liver with fava beans served with a nice Chianti wine.
8 Tbsp butter, divided
1/2 cup diced pancetta or bacon
1/2 cup diced white onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb fava beans, shelled and peeled if fresh
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 lb young beef liver, which should provide 2 slices
1 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
1/2 cup red wine, Chianti preferred
- In a saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp of butter over medium-low heat then add the pancetta bacon. Cook until the fat renders out; about 5 minutes.
- Add onions and garlic and sauté until the onions soften; about 10 minutes.
- Set aside half to this for later.
- Into half of the onion and pancetta mixture, add the beans and stock. Simmer for about 15 minutes, allowing the stock to thicken.
- While the beans simmer, dredge your liver in the seasoned flour.
- In a skillet, melt the remaining 6 Tbsp of butter.
- Fry the floured liver in the melted butter until golden brown; about 2 to 3 minutes each side. Set the cooked livers aside and cover to keep warm.
- Into your skillet, add the reserved onion and pancetta mixture and the wine. Simmer until the sauce thickens; about 5 minutes.
- When the beans and sauce are done, plate your liver and spoon sauce of the sauce over it. Serve with a side of beans. If you have extra sauce, serve it in a sauceboat.
If you cannot find fava beans, lima beans are an accessible and acceptable substitute. If you buy canned beans of either kind, you should still simmer them just as long, just don’t stir too often, or you’ll have refried beans.
I normally hate liver and onions. This, however, was SO AMAZING. It practically melted in my mouth. The pancetta bacon brings another layer of friendly flavor to the dish as well. It was a huge hit and very inexpensive. So Clarice, tell the lambs to stop crying and enjoy liver again.
Have you ever wondered? You know… What does human meat taste like? Putting these recipes together has encouraged me to ponder this question. You know it was going to come up. Well, thanks to Chef Jim Thomlinson of London Mess, we now have an interesting approximation.
Jim and his conspirator, Emma Thomas of Miss Cakehead, partnered with FOX UK to create a publicity event for Season Five of The Walking Dead. They did their research — all book learning, I’m sure — into what cannibals have documented through the years what they thought human flesh tasted like. Jim’s recipe used pork, veal, and beef bone marrow. Fans of the show came to a pop-up grill in East London called Terminus Tavern and were served these burgers with some bacon ketchup on the side.
As I live nowhere near London, I decided I would attempt to make the burgers myself and share the fun. They seemed appropriate for the Death card and this episode’s discussion of zombies.
Makes 8 burger patties
1 lb ground pork
1 lb ground veal
1 lb beef marrow bones (or 1/4 lb bacon, minced)
salt and pepper, to taste
- Large bowl
- Meat grinder (optional)
- Frying pan or skillet
- If you have beef marrow bones, we want to use just the marrow in the bones. It is very easy to push the fatty marrow out through the bones.
- Mash the marrow to break it up. Set aside. Freeze the bones for later; they will be perfect for making beef stock/bone broth in the future.
- If you don’t have marrow bones, then bacon can be a nice substitute which adds its own familiar flavor. Chop the bacon and set it aside.
- If you have a meat grinder, grind up the pound of pork, then the beef marrow (or bacon), then the veal. Mix all of the ground meat together and run it all through the grinder again.
- If you do not have your own grinder, then buy ground pork and ground veal, and mix these together with the mashed bone marrow (or bacon) in a large bowl.
- Add salt and pepper and mix well to incorporate everything together.
- Divide the meat into about 8 patties.
- Drizzle a teaspoon of oil into your frying pan or skillet and heat on high until the oil shimmers, about 3 minutes.
- Cook the patties until golden brown on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip the patties and cook on the second side, another 5 minutes. If you have a meat thermometer, ground meat needs to reach 160°F for safety.
- Serve immediately with your favorite fixins.
Right off the bat you are probably thinking, “Ewww… beef marrow?!” That’s assuming you got past “Ewww… human burgers?!” Bone marrow is actually quite delicious roasted and spread on toast. I’ve had it at The Salty Sow and it is divine. This is really little more than a rich fat that adds a velvety quality to the burgers. Ask your butcher if they can get you some. My local gourmet store sold some from Rumba Meats.
If you can’t find marrow bones or soup bones at your local grocer, or if you just can’t get past the “bone marrow” factor, I think some strips of bacon would suffice. Bacon is mostly fat and the smoke and saltiness would go well. Just don’t cook the bacon before using it. Chop or grind it right up raw with the rest of the meat.
So… what does it taste like? I don’t have Hannibal Lecter’s palate, but I quite enjoyed them. They were nothing like beef burgers, of course. The pork and veal were a nice complement to each other. The marrow brought it all together in a nice solid patty. I would definitely make these again.
Pair this with a Zombie cocktail and you will have the perfect meal for your watch party for The Walking Dead or iZombie. Hell, I’ll probably serve them again when NBC’s Hannibal premieres June 4th, 2015.
It is time for a Recipe Redemption! Back in June, I presented a recipe for a gourmet preparation of sweetbreads. It was OK, but it was a lot of effort for just “OK”. In another one of my kooky cookbooks I found a much simplified version.
The cookbook is Recipe for Murder: Frightfully Good Food Inspired by Fiction by Esterelle Payany. This charming collection features recipes that one might expect villains would serve if they started a catering company.
Thus I discovered therein “Hannibal’s Express Sweetbreads”. As a fan of the movies and TV show, I was definitely curious. The recipe as provided reduced the time of virtually every step from the gourmet version, and even skips a couple unnecessary steps.
Makes: 4 Servings
8 cups (2 quarts) water
2 Tbsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp (white wine) vinegar
2 sweetbreads (about 1 pound or so)
1/2 cup (50g) flour
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup butter
- Large saucepan or pot
- Cutting board
- Sharp knife
- Two baking sheets or plates
- Saute pan or skillet
- Paper towels
- Into a large saucepan/pot, bring the water to a boil, and add the salt and vinegar.
- Add the sweetbreads to the boiling water then bring the heat down to a simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove the sweetbreads to a cutting board and allow them to cool. (Note that you do not have to shock them in cold water.)
- With an exquisitely sharp knife, remove all of the membrane and skin from the sweetbreads. Any remaining bits of membrane will become chewy rubbery nasty bits.
- Line a plate or baking sheet with paper towels, place your sweetbreads on the paper towel, and cover with another sheet of paper towel. Then lay on top another plate or baking sheet and place a weight on top of this. Place this all in your refrigerator to chill for an hour.
- Into a mixing bowl, add the flour. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Remove the sweetbreads from their press and slice them into thick strips.
- Dredge the sweetbread strips in the flour, coating them all evenly.
- Set a skillet on medium-high heat and melt the butter. In small batches, brown the sweetbread strips in the butter. Cook for 2 minutes, then turn over and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Transfer the golden-brown sweetbread strips to a plate and serve with your favorite sauce.
The original recipe also created a sauce made from “long shallots” and sherry vinegar. Opinions seemed to differ on whether scallions (or green shallots) could be substituted for long shallots, or if the author just meant large shallots. Furthermore, real sherry vinegar is very expensive and hard to find, being a Spanish import.
In the end, I think the best solution is to have or make your own sauce and either dip or drizzle onto your sweetbreads.
Which, when prepared this way, they were absolutely fantastic. The ones that I got all of the membrane off of, that is. A nice sweet and sour sauce complemented these wonderfully, but you could easily have these with BBQ sauce or gravy, or a fine reduction of whatever exotic wine a master chef like Hannibal might have on hand.
The BayCon Horror panel was awesome! Nice seeing all of you and chatting with authors Laurel Anne Hill and J. Malcolm Stewart! I always enjoy taking notes on what we talk about and letting your feedback steer our show and feedback topics.
For all of you who couldn’t make it, you might be wondering what the horror buzz is. Here is a list of what the panelist and audience talked about. Do you agree with the list? Would you like to add anything?
+ means the majority liked it
– means the majority didn’t like it
? means none of us have seen it or have an opinion one way or another, or that it was a such a quick mention, we didn’t have time to discuss it.
? Insidious 2
+Jeffery Ford / Crackpot Palace
+The Orphans of the Creek / Richard S. Todd
+Stephen King / Full Dark No Stars
+Peter Straub / Shadowland & Ghost Story
+Seanan McQuire / Zombie trilogy
+Wrath James Waite / Voracious
+Peter Stenson / Fiend
+Kim Newman / Anno Dracula – Johnny Alucard
-Witches of East End
?American Horror Story
?Witches of Eastwick series
Coming up – we are excited about
? The Purge 2
? Omen Series
? Insidious 3
? Phantasm 5
? Conjuring 2
? Paranormal Activity 4
? found footage Friday the 13th
? new Poltergiest
Want a remake
Wish they weren’t gone – must watch
1951 The Thing
Full Moon – Subspecies, Vampire Journals
So, online crew, what are your thoughts?