Everyone knows the classic fried venison liver and onions dish that has been passed down from generation to generation. We'll here is my version that elevates the dish to new levels.
The goal with offal is to prepare them with flavors that compliment, not cover up. And to achieve this with flavor forward innards like liver, it's all in the preparation.
So you really have a few simple basic jobs here to insure tasty clean flavors.
First, don't cut the liver too thin. Cutting the liver thinly will give you a well done piece of flesh before a crust is achieved.
Second, you want to cook it with medium high to heat to ensure that you achieve a good crust. A good crust equals loads of more flavor and texture.
Third, don't overcook it. If you cook liver more than medium it will become super dry and taste like mud. Treat your livers like steaks. Make sure they are dry, seasoned well and cooked without a lot of flip flopping.
Cooks Notes: If you want to try out the bread that I used here is a link to my Duck Fat Focaccia recipe.
For the Caramelized Onion Aioi
1 medium sized red onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon cooking oil (rendered animal fat or olive oil)
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
dash of hot sauce (please don't use Franks)
For the Tempura Mix
1 1/2 cups cake flour
6 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Onion Rings
high smoke point oil for frying
3/4 cup of the tempura mix
1/2 cup sparkling water (chilled)
Six 1/2-inch slices of sweet onions
For the Liver
high smoke point cooking oil (rendered animal fat works too)
4 venison liver steaks, cleaned and cut 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick
all purpose flour for dusting
salt and pepper
FOR THE ONION AIOLI : Heat a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Add the cooking oil followed by the onions. Cook while stirring until the onions are browned and tender. If your pan starts to look dry before the onions are tender, add a splash more cooking oil.
Add the garlic, rosemary and thyme. Cook for 2 minutes while stirring often. Season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Add the vinegar, honey and butter. Cook until all of the liquid has evaporated while stirring often. Remove the onions from the heat and let cool.
Add the onion mixture, splash of hot sauce, mustard and mayonnaise to a blender or food processor and pulse until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. You can also add additional honey or a splash of vinegar to your tastes. Set Aside.
FOR THE ONION RINGS : In a small deep pot or cast iron skillet heat your frying oil to 325 degrees F. In a small bowl mix the portioned tempura mix with the chilled sparkling water. Add one ice cube to the batter to keep it chilled. Working in batches, dip the onions into the batter and fry until golden brown. This take around 4 or 5 minutes. As they are removed from the cooking oil, place them on paper-towels to drain.
FOR THE LIVER : Heat a 1/4 inch of cooking oil in a heavy bottomed skillet over high heat. Season the livers with salt and pepper and dust with flour on both sides.
Add the liver steaks to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for around 4 minutes insuring that you sear them on all sides. You'll know when they are done when you poke them and they feel like a medium cooked steak.
If you are unsure, always cook a little less than you are thinking. If you don't have a big enough skillet to cook the livers in, work in batches. You don't want to over-crowd the pan and "steam" them. This would ruin your efforts.
ASSEMBLE THE SANDWICHES : Slather both pieces of bread with the aioli, throw on a venison steak and top with onion rings. I also like to add sour pickled to mine.