When we were recently gifted some incredibly fresh deer liver – the possibilities made my mind spin: pan-seared, pressure cooked with rich gravy, in congee…so many options! Any would have been wonderful, but we decided to go with the method that would best showcase the liver’s flavor: pan searing.
If you’ve never seen one before, deer liver is a thing of beauty, with a deep purplish hue, firm, and unblemished (and this is important – lesions on a liver may indicate a health issue that makes consumption inadvisable). The texture is firm and dense, with a scent that tells you that this meat is from a wild creature.
Fresh liver doesn’t require much effort or augmentation to become a nutritious, delicious meal: simply sauté sliced onion in a skillet with butter until translucent, then add the sliced liver to the hot pan, salt and pepper, and cook for about 8-10 minutes (depending on the thickness of the liver – thinner slices will cook faster).
We served the liver and onions with mixed veggies, atop a bed of jasmine rice. The liver itself was delicate and juicy, with a subtle mineral flavor. With each bite, it almost seemed like I could taste the cleanness of the deer’s life: the terroir of mast-filled woods, sunlight, water from small streams. I could see it bounding through fields, tail held high. A truly wild animal has a unique and special flavor, to which I believe its complete freedom – though a life in nature may be a short and/or harsh one – contributes.
We’re thankful for the perseverance, skill, and generosity of our friend, R, who harvested the deer and shared his bounty with us. May your arrow find its mark every archery season.