I became a vegetarian when I was ten. I bet a school friend that I could fool the dinner ladies into believing I was a vegetarian for a term. When it started to look like I would win he told the cooks who made me bring in a letter from my mum. I asked her to write in and she agreed on the condition that I actually became a vegetarian (my older brother and sister were already veggies and my mum had been thinking about it anyway so it was more of a catalyst for her). I didn’t eat meat again until I was thirty two when I took Debbie to Venice to propose to her and discovered that the lack of a vegetarian option coincided with my not being bothered about its absence anymore.
In my overly earnest late teens I was one of those militant vegetarians. The sort who would daydream about mortar bombing McDonald’s (this is of course a joke: I was/am a pacifist and the most I would ever do was give the golden arches a stern look). The sort who would lecture people about the evils of eating meat and wearing leather shoes. I was, I have to admit, very annoying.
One of the things I could often be heard to say was that I couldn’t understand why any body would eat liver or kidneys once they realised what function they performed. The answer is because they are tasty.
I have vague memories of eating liver when I was a child but it might have been shoe leather. I seem to remember a slab of something sitting on top of some mashed potato with some cremated onions scattered over it. I later discovered that my mother-in-law must have had the same domestic science teacher as my mum because I found the same thing on my plate years later. I decided that I should make something better.
This is a long cook but you can cut a few corners. I always enjoy cooking this so don’t mind spending the time making it. Debbie loves this dish but can’t bear the thought of me making it as she has a little thing about milk. Try to use local lamb’s liver; in the UK I have found that the stuff imported from New Zealand is too strong which I assume is down to storing as it is transported.
Lamb’s Liver and Bacon
500 g lambs liver. I buy this unsliced because it is easier to peel whole.
1 piece of unsmoked back bacon. Ask your butcher to cut you a piece about 4cm thick. If you can’t get unsliced then between six to eight rashers will do.
1 kg onions peeled and sliced
1 tsp tamarind concentrate or a few shakes of Worcestershire Sauce
Mashed Potatoes and Cabbage to serve.
As soon as you get back from the butcher peel the liver and remove as many of the tubes as you can. Cut it into 5mm slices then put in a bowl and pour over just enough milk to cover it. Put it in the fridge until needed.
Cut the fat off the bacon turning it from this
Cut the fat into the 5mm strips and put into a pan on a low heat. After an hour or so most of the fat will have rendered and you will be left with oil and Fat Chips
You should throw the fat chips away unless you are not on a diet (if you eat them you soon will be).
Dispose of all but 1 tablespoon of the oil. Of course you could cut a corner here and just render 1 tablespoon from the fat but then you would never know if you could resist the lure of fat chips.
Cut the bacon into 5mm strips and add to the onions. Turn the heat to medium.
At this point I put the potatoes on to cook. Add more water than you would normally add and, once it boils use some of this, a little at a time, to add to the bacon and onions. Add the tamarind concentrate.
Drain the liver reserving the milk. Add the milk a little at a time to the bacon and onions stirring constantly. Because there will be blood in it the milk will congeal if you add too much at a time or don’t stir enough. If it does then stir furiously (my test is to imagine I am Debbie and wonder whether I would spot that milk has been added). Because of all the stirring the onions will have broken down by this point and you will have a thick sauce. You could leave the milk out to save time.
Just before you are ready to serve add the liver and stir through. The aim is for the liver to be cooked but to still have a pinkish tinge when bitten into.
I set out with good intentions this week to get Debbie to photograph everything. Unfortunately I was so busy as I served that I forgot to ask her to take a picture of the result until we had nearly finished eating. Sorry.
In my pre diet days when I made this I would use more fat but I am pleased to say that it worked just as well with very little.
I didn’t drink on Friday this week and it seems to have had an effect because I had lost three pounds at weigh in this week.