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Of animal livers, the ones commonly consumed are beef, calf, sheep, lamb, pork, duck and goose.

Lamb's liver is the most popular in terms of sales, but calf's liver is considered the best. Pork is both the strongest tasting and the least tender.

Liver should have a fresh, clean smell and not have a slimy surface.

At the turn of the 2000s, Liver is not very popular in North America. Many were brought up on liver and onions in the mid 1900s, and swore never to have it again. Many will eat it only in the form of pâtés.

Kosher Liver

For Liver to be considered kosher to eat in the Jewish faith, it must have all the blood removed from it. Because liver contains a lot of blood, the regular salt coating used in koshering other meat won't do it.

It must be broiled (aka "grilled" in the UK) to make it kosher.

Large pieces of liver are either sliced first, or slashed with deep cuts, and placed slashed-side down on the broiling pan.

The purpose of the cuts are to allow heated blood to flow out of the liver.

The liver is broiled on a grate to allow blood coming out to drip away. A regular broiling pan will do.

The liver can be turned a few times during broiling. It is broiled until the outside is dry,

Then, it is washed off three times.

Then, you may proceed to cook it as you wish.

Livers from poultry can be broiled whole. These are often salted first. Conscientious kosher cooks will broil them until there is no pink left inside. This can make them dry, but if you are making chopped liver from them, the addition of copious amounts of schmaltz -- at least in the old days -- would more than compensate.

Owing to these koshering requirements, the topic of "foie gras" is a dicey one, as such a procedure would obviously destroy such a very expensive piece of meat.

Cooking Tips

Many people soak liver in milk for half an hour, then coat it in flour before cooking it. The milk is reputed to make it less strong-tasting; the flour coating is reputed to keep more of the juices in, making it less dry.

Slice raw lamb, veal and pig's liver thinly, about 3/8 inch (1 cm). This allows it to be cooked quickly. You can ask your butcher to do it for you; it is faster and easier for him or her to do it with the machines.

Any liver that is overcooked will go tough.

Language Notes

Many Romance languages take their word for "liver" from the Roman word for fig -- owing to the Roman practice of creating foie gras, which they called "iecur ficatum", by feeding figs to the geese.

In Latin, it was "iecur" that meant "liver", while "ficatum" meant "fig", but it was the "ficatum" part that became "fegato" in Italian, etc.

See also:


Beef Liver; Calf's Liver; Chopped Liver; Foie Gras; Lamb Liver; Liver Pudding; Pork Liver

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Also called:

Foie (French); Leber (German); Fegato (Italian); Hígado (Spanish); Fígado (Portuguese); Hepatia, Iecur (Roman)


Oulton, Randal. "Liver." CooksInfo.com. Published 04 June 2004; revised 07 November 2007. Web. Accessed 03/18/2018. <http://www.cooksinfo.com/liver>.

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