Liver. For many of you reading this, you are squinching up your nose right now. I get it. I do, too. A lot. Livers can be, well… livery. And not in a nice way.
There’s a trick though: Look for fatty livers. I am not talking about foie gras, to be sure. Just a liver that is a lovely shade of tan, not burgundy red. And while this is a duck liver recipe, know that this method works with any small liver. I’ve made this recipe with livers from chickens, turkeys, rabbits, pheasants and one morbidly obese squirrel.
See these livers?
These are livers from pintail ducks. See how light in color they are? That’s what you want. Pretty much every farmyard poultry will be at least this fatty, but it will be more rare in wild animals. I’ve written about wild foie gras before, and give this article a read if you want to learn more.
So how do you properly cook a duck liver? Sear it hard with a high smoke-point oil, such as grapeseed, canola, rice bran, refined safflower oil, and, weirdly, avocado oil. Pro tip: Clarified butter works great, too, and tastes better. Don’t use regular butter though.
And, only sear it on one side. Baste the other side with the hot oil to just barely cook it. Result? A crispy crunchy edge, but still pink in the center. This gives the livers a silkier texture inside. If you overcook them, the livers will get chalky.
How to serve your duck livers? I like them studding a simple green salad. Whisk together the hot oil in the pan with some good vinegar, maybe a small spoonful of mustard, a pinch of salt, and you’re good to go.
- 3 tablespoons grapeseed or other high smoke-point oil
- 2 duck or goose livers (or more)
- Fine sea salt
- High-quality balsamic vinegar (the good stuff)
Get a small frying pan screaming hot. Add about a tablespoon of grapeseed, safflower or rice bran oil (or other high smoke point oil). Heat this until it smokes, then take the pan off the heat and gently lay down the livers. As soon as they hit the hot oil, shake the pan a little so the livers do not stick. Set the pan back on the heat and sear the livers for 90 seconds. Baste the livers with the hot oil for 30 seconds and remove from the heat.
- To serve, sprinkle some fine salt on the liver; fleur de sel is a good choice. Drizzle a little high-quality balsamic vinegar over it and serve immediately. If you can’t get the good balsamic, boil some cheaper stuff down by half so it’s syrupy.
Remember this works with any fatty liver: chicken, goose, turkey, pheasant. You want them tan, not dark red.