How to Cook Deer Liver

Deer liver – it’s one of the things I started eating many years ago and never really enjoyed it. Once I moved out of my folks house and started hunting again, the inevitable happened – I shot a deer and we let nothing go to waste around here.

 

In fact, my hunting buddies will probably make fun of me, but I am going to make a european mount for the skull.

Now, the heart. Aside of having a broadhead mangle it up a bit, it’s like steak. The bottom (the point) is tender and delicious and it gets less tender but no less delicious as we move up. I hit the top of the heart with an arrow so it looked ugly but otherwise didn’t impair the taste. You cook it like steak, you eat it like steak, it’s good. But, moving down, oh, the liver…

I eventually figured out several things. Onion salt (or garlic salt) is better to use here than just onions. You can pile it on your plate. These tastes are supposed to go together, so put onions in the pan, put onion salt on the liver. It’s good. The second thing I figured out is to cook it in butter. In oil, it tastes dense, which is what oil does, but the meat is already super dense like the heart. If you use real, honest to God butter, you’ll have a meal you can eat.

Recipe time!

  1. Shoot a deer. Easier said than done. Once you have a dead deer in your posession, grab the liver. It’s the purple one. In young animals, the spleen is also purple but it has a wavy texture. In mature animals, the spleen is green and has a feathered texture on half of it. Not sure why. Don’t grab the spleen. They’re joined at the artery that feeds them both so sometimes some creative cutting is required.
  2. Wash it off. Take the liver home and just wash the crap out of it so you can actually see everything.
  3. Trim the liver. This means cutting off any nasty parts, the artery should be cut out, and I like to cut it in half here at the artery so I can inspect it. If it looks gross or doesn’t have a uniform dark texture, toss it. There’s a few veins in there, don’t sweat those. Giant disgusting cysts should go. Fatty livers get tossed.
  4. Brine. Make up a salt solution and let it soak 24 hours overnight. It will bleed into the bag, so consider changing the water. We’re trying to get as much blood out as possible. You’re ready to cook after 24 hours…
  5. Slice. Cut the liver up into quarter inch strips. Longways, sideways, it doesn’t matter. Also trim the outer skin. This does two things – more area to adhere butter to and it gives it a more uniform texture. You’d be surprised how much of a difference it makes – just trust me. This is also a good place to cut out any more thick walled veins you find or artery you didn’t slice out previously. You just want the inner dark meat of the liver.
  6. Butter. Heat a pan on medium heat and toss in a stick of butter. Toss in two! I don’t care! It will brown if you heat it too much so it’s best to start out on medium heat, melt it, then crank up the heat shortly before tossing in the meat.
  7. Massage. Wait, what? You cut the meat into strips. It will benefit from being washed again under running water and tenderized a bit. You should get even more blood and little stringy blood clots coming out of the meat. This is where most people call liver “irony” or “mineraly”, because they didn’t get the blood out. However, before you get tempted to slice and soak overnight, I’ve found it makes the liver less tender.
  8. Dredge. I keep a bowl of water with the meat in it and a bowl of flour next to it. That’s it, just flour. You can always salt and onion salt it to taste later. If you have a favorite steak rub for making country fried steak, it might also work.
  9. Cook. Set the heat on high and let the pan warm up for a minute. When the butter just starts steaming or popping you’re hot. Take your dredged pieces and toss them in the pan. Cook them two minutes or three minutes per side. I like to feel up the small ones. When the small ones are getting stiff, the big ones need to be flipped. The liver should firm up when you cook it, but it’s a fine line between “firm” and “rubber”. The flour should be golden, not white.
  10. Season. It probably doesn’t need anymore butter but if you promise not to sue the blog you can have it. On the other hand, consider using garlic salt, onion salt, or cooking some onions in that butter. I also put a dash of pepper on mine, but whatever. If you know what you want, put it on before letting the meat rest for a few minutes. If you’re not sure, put it on after. There’s no right or wrong.

Enjoy!

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