Liver and Onions

Liver and Onions

“We carried on our usual banter as I prepared the meal; then Tom arrived home. Coming into the kitchen, he sniffed around as usual.
Can’t smell any onions, he said.
No, I’ve done a meat pie instead.
But we always have liver and onions on Friday, he wailed.
The butcher said the liver was very tough this week, so I thought I’d give it a miss, I replied.
I could see from the look on Tom’s face we were in for a mini sulk.”
David Hughes, Purple Jade

Can there be a more controversial dish than liver and onions? Love it or hate it—there is no neutral ground. I happen to be a liver enthusiast. As organ meat, it falls into the category of offal, so named because these were the bits of the animal that “fell off” during butchering. Considered less desirable than the parts that stayed on, liver was nonetheless found to be quite high in vitamins and minerals. For years, it was prescribed to pregnant women who suffered from anemia. Unlike other traditional British dishes, it is not commonly found on restaurant menus, and for that reason is a perfect dish to make at home.

The liver in question is calf’s liver. The traditional accompaniment to liver is onions, and it is joined here by bacon. The bacon and onions complement the meat’s strong, almost metallic, flavor. Brown gravy provides a smooth, savory boost for both the liver and the mashed potatoes, which are a must. Veg? Peas, of course.

Liver and Onions

Yield: 4


  • 1lb calf’s liver, sliced, skinned and deveined
  • 1oz butter
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • ½ lb of bacon
  • 1 cup of beef stock
  • 2 tsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Rinse the liver under cold water and drain well. Place in bowl and cover with milk. Soak for at least 30 mins.
  • Cook bacon in pan until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
  • Cook onion in bacon grease on medium low heat for 10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of flour over onion and stir to incorporate.
  • Add beef stock, Worcestershire sauce and ketchup and bring to a simmer.
  • In a second pan, melt butter and oil.
  • Place 3 Tbsp of flour in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Coat the liver in flour and shake off the excess.
  • Fry liver for 2 minutes on each side until browned but not completely cooked through.
  • Transfer liver to the pan with onion gravy and finish cooking for a further 2 minutes.
  • Plate liver and onions and place a couple of rashers of bacon on top.
  • Serve with mash and peas.


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