Old-Fashioned Liver And Onions Recipe

Members of Generation X may remember their Boomer parents trying to cajole them into eating liver, which had been considered a "patriot" food during World War II because it wasn't subject to war-related rationing (via The Atlantic) and which Boomers had grown up being told was a super-healthy source of protein, iron, and other minerals and vitamins (via Healthline). Although liver may not be something children readily embrace, by the time Boomers grew up and had their own kids, many had become bona fide fans. Predictably, of course, Gen X kids wanted no part of it, and by the time they grew up and had their own kids, liver had pretty much fallen from favor as standard American family-dinner fare anyway. 

The upshot today? More liver for us! If you're already a fan of liver's earthy, meatier-than-meat flavor and velvety texture, then this gently updated recipe for old-fashioned liver and onions, which gets its delightful brightness from lemon and parsley, promises to become a favorite. And as recipe developer Keith Kamikawa told Mashed, it's actually quite approachable for first-timers.

Gather your ingredients for old-fashioned liver and onions

For this recipe for old-fashioned liver and onions, you'll probably have most of the ingredients on hand in your kitchen — with the exception of the liver and perhaps lemon juice and freshly minced flat-leaf parsley. For the liver, recipe developer Kamikawa recommends using calf's liver, which is more tender than liver from adult cows and has a slightly milder flavor. The slices you select should be a deep, healthy maroon-ish brown and about one-third of an inch thick. For the lemon juice, you should be able to extract the two tablespoons you'll need from one lemon, so figure you'll need around two lemons — one for the juice and one to cut into wedges for plating. 

The other ingredients you'll need include two large, sliced onions, four tablespoons of unsalted butter, three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, three teaspoons of kosher salt, one teaspoon of black pepper, one cup of all-purpose flour, a quarter teaspoon of dried sage, and a quarter cup of chicken broth or chicken stock (either will do). You might also want to have some balsamic vinegar on hand for drizzling over the finished dish.

Slice and sauté the onions slowly to coax out their sweetness

Start by halving the onions and then slicing them to no more than a quarter of an inch thick. Heat two tablespoons of the butter and one tablespoon of the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Once the butter is melted, add the onions, one teaspoon of the salt, and one-half a teaspoon of the pepper, and sauté on medium-high heat until the onions have caramelized to a light brown color. This should take about eight minutes at medium-high heat. 

If you're concerned about burning the onions, which can interfere with their sweetness, you can always lower the heat. Caramelizing will take more time, but as Kamikawa points out, "there's nothing wrong with that."

Dredge your liver to enhance the caramelized flavors

"Dredging" meat refers to coating it in flour, often seasoned flour, before placing it into a sauté pan to brown, according to Cook's Info. To prepare the seasoned flour for this recipe for old-fashioned liver and onions, combine the flour, the rest of the salt, the rest of the pepper, and the dried sage in a bowl big enough to accommodate your liver slices. Since the liver's surface is moist, you won't need to dip it into egg or milk first. Simply touch both sides of each slice of liver to the seasoned flour to thoroughly coat each piece. 

It's time to sauté the liver for your old-fashioned liver and onions

To sauté the liver, Kamikawa encourages you to use the same large sauté pan that you used to cook the onions. You'll want to do this in two batches to avoid crowding the pan. Start by heating one tablespoon of the butter and another tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted and the oil is shimmering, add two slices of the liver, and allow to sauté for one and a half to two minutes per side. Set aside, and repeat with the other two slices of liver. 

Now watch as the sauce for your old-fashioned liver and onions practically makes itself

With the pan still hot and the flame still set to medium-high, add the chicken stock or broth, the lemon juice, and the parsley to the pan, and stir to combine. Then add the caramelized onions and stir everything together. What you're doing now is known as "deglazing" the pan. Deglazing uses a liquid (such as stock or broth) to lift those caramelized bits that were left over from cooking the onions and the breaded liver and incorporate them into a sauce that gets a bit of thickness from the flour you used to dredge the meat. It's one of the easiest ways to make a flavorful sauce.

Before serving, make your old-fashioned liver and onions look pretty

To plate your old-fashioned liver and onions, divide the sauced, caramelized onions onto four plates and top each serving with one slice of the liver. If you'd like to add an extra hint of slightly tart sweetness, go ahead and drizzle a bit of balsamic vinegar over your liver and onions. To create a beautifully professional chef-level presentation, slice you lemon into four wedges, and serve a wedge alongside the liver and onions, along with a sprig of parsley. 

Enjoy, and if there happen to be any leftovers, refrigerate them and reheat gently. 

Old-Fashioned Liver And Onions Recipe
5 from 23 ratings
If you're already a fan of liver's earthy flavor, then this gently updated recipe for old-fashioned liver and onions promises to become a favorite.
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
20
minutes
Servings
4
servings
Old Fashioned Liver and onions closeup
Total time: 30 minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 slices calf's liver (about 1 ½ pounds)
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
Optional Ingredients
  • Balsamic vinegar for drizzling over the finished dish
Directions
  1. Slice the onions to no more than a quarter-inch thick.
  2. Heat two tablespoons of the butter and one tablespoon of the olive oil in a large sauté pan at medium-high heat.
  3. Once the butter is melted, add the onions, one teaspoon of the salt, and one-half a teaspoon of the pepper, and sauté until the onions have caramelized to a light brown color (around 8 minutes).
  4. Combine the flour, the rest of the salt, the rest of the pepper, and the dried sage in a bowl big enough to accommodate your liver slices.
  5. Dip both sides of each slice of liver into the seasoned flour, thoroughly coating each piece.
  6. Heat one tablespoon of the butter and another tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat.
  7. When the butter has melted and the oil is shimmering, add two slices of the liver and sauté for 1 ½ to 2 minutes per side. Set aside and repeat with the other two slices of liver.
  8. With the pan still hot and the flame still set to medium-high, add the chicken stock or broth, the lemon juice, and the parsley to the pan, and stir to combine.
  9. Add the caramelized onions, and stir everything together to deglaze the pan.
  10. Divide onto four plates, and serve each with a lemon wedge, balsamic vinegar (if using) and a sprig of parsley.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 587
Total Fat 30.6 g
Saturated Fat 11.5 g
Trans Fat 0.8 g
Cholesterol 599.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 38.8 g
Dietary Fiber 2.8 g
Total Sugars 4.1 g
Sodium 791.7 mg
Protein 38.8 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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