This page is for the liver lover in you, whether you are friends yet or not. Because when I talk about my enthusiasm for nutrient-density, this is as good as it gets!
How to prepare
Some chefs insist on soaking in salt and lemon water. Others opt to soak in ice water or milk to lessen the intensity from an older animal. Others suggest that you should never soak a fresh liver and that its quick preparation is part of the appeal. Chicken livers are sometimes soaked in buttermilk for adding a more complex flavor.
What is universally recognized is removing the thin membrane surrounding the organ. If your liver is sliced, trim the edges (and any tubes within). If whole, get a finger underneath the membrane (start with the flat-side up) and pull it away while holding down the liver.
After the membrane has been removed, the liver is likely to stick to towels. Rub a little oil over the surface to avoid this.
Remove any connective tissue, including the green gallbladder from poultry liver. Trim any green spots, which is bitter bile, from the liver.
Tips for cooking
Also fairly common among liver recipes is to sear on fairly high heat, usually after breading or dipping the liver in flour. This will retain juices within and cook quickly. Start with the liver at room temperature, and do not crowd the pan! Skillet size should match quantity and heat source. Liver should be pink in the middle and is done when juices run clear.
Meat and poultry livers are typically interchangeable. However, poultry livers – especially chicken livers – are more mild than beef, lamb, goat or pig.
Some recipes call for liver slices at 1/4-3/8″ thick. Others recommend slices 1/2-3/4″ thick so that they are not easily overcooked. Unless you have a butcher or are preparing yourself, you may not have much choice on the width.
However, Chris Cosentino notes,
When overcooked, [liver] becomes terribly dry and grainy, and its flavor reminds me a little of dirt. But when well cooked, it is creamy and velvety, earthy and minerally with a satisfying meatiness that lingers.
Liver contains little fat; yet it is a major source of fat-soluble vitamins. All proper preparations encourage generous (maybe even egregious, by FDA/modern standards) quantities of fat in cooking and serving. This maintains the moisture of the liver and ensures good absorption of the nutrients. Plus, it tastes good.