As part of a pact made during last year’s beef draft, and part of my own plans to step closer to the food I eat, I kept the liver and promised to make it for everybody at the following year’s draft. So, with the 2010 draft taking place that evening, the time had come.
I felt uncharacteristically squeamish about doing it. I hadn’t had beef or chicken liver in thirty years. It always had a certain textural quality that I didn’t have the vocabulary to describe until recently. The word I was always looking for is “tarantula-y.” Biting into cooked liver gives you the same sensation as biting into a poorly-cooked tarantula. It’s disgusting with primal intensity. If there’s a brain chemical like serotonin, except that instead of feelings of pleasure it affects feelings of revulsion, then cooked beef liver is Disgusting Ecstasy.
As a three-year-old I loved the stuff. Apparently, this was before my good taste kicked in; it’s worth pointing out that at age 7, your author named his male dog “Fluff.” But it hasn’t held the remotest appeal to me since Iran-Contra – at least.
Still… there was a certain temptation to it. Ubiquitous, nutritious, cheap, and hardcore, liver would be a welcome addition to the toolbox… if it could be tamed.
Research told me that making liver good enough to convert the haters depended on two things:
1. Soaking it in milk, which would take out some of the livery flavor. I found it unusual that the adjective “livery” had negative connotations when the whole purpose of this enterprise was to, well, make liver. If it were any good, I would think we’d want our beef liver tasting livery.
2. Not overcooking it. Overcooking meat isn’t a danger that we often face here at Portable Chef World Headquarters. I saw a glimmer of hope here. I thought perhaps that chronic overcooking was the reason I disliked liver; maybe it had just been prepared improperly all through the disco era.
So these tips were simple enough. Done and done. A few hours before the draft was to start I made a test batch. I prepared it with some caramelized onions and sage and it was… completely inedible. Totally tarantula-y.
And thus began another 30-year beef liver hiatus.