Offal News

Properly cooked liver – a flash in the pan – is one of life’s joys, writes Alastair Gilmour

Liver has been getting something of a bad press lately. It’s been revealed recently that David Cameron once attended a post-shoot dinner in Scotland where guests were served raw stag’s liver, but he hid it under a pile of salad to avoid eating it.

Bruce Anderson, political commentator and a friend of the Prime Minister, wrote in the Spectator magazine that Cameron was “among the wetties” at the meal who were put off by the sight of the blood-seeping offal on their plates. The meal, which took place in the 1990s, had featured “a fresh liver from a young stag, cooked rare so that it seeps with blood – saignant, not bleu”.

The dish had “a fluffy quality, reminiscent of foie gras – that livery taste to the point of sweetness”, wrote Anderson. “There were some wetties who were put off by the sight. Among their number, I regret to say, was the present Prime Minister.”

The secret to cooking liver is to do it quickly – and many chefs would agree, the quicker, the pinker, the better.

Not so, said Westminster council after two diners at Brasserie Blanc in Covent Garden, part of a chain of which the renowned TV chef Raymond Blanc is a director, fell ill with food poisoning.

Now liver is off the menu at all branches of Brasserie Blanc across the UK following an environmental health order against the recently-opened London restaurant and the subsequent £3,103 fine. A spokeswoman for the chef said: “Brasserie Bar Co will no longer serve liver in any of its restaurants. In order to serve liver and comply with Westminster council, it would need to be over-cooked to such an extent that our customers just won’t eat it.”

Raymond Blanc, owner of the double Michelin-starred Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, advises in his Kitchen Secrets recipe for lamb’s liver persillade that the meat should be thinly sliced and cooked for 30 seconds on each side for medium rare, or one minute each side for medium.

“A short cooking time is essential,” he writes, which concurs with the method Hartlepool-based chef Krimo Bouabda  recommends.

“Place the liver in the freezer for 15 minutes,” he writes on his website at, adding that it makes slicing thinly easier. He goes on: “Cut horizontally into thin slices. Heat two tablespoons of oil, sprinkle a little seasoned flour on the liver and shallow fry for about 20 seconds on each side.”

Some of us recall school-dinner days of thick, overdone liver, tough enough to put us off for life. But is there anything nicer than lightly-cooked liver and slightly caramelised onions? Let’s hope its travails are merely a flash in the pan.

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