Moroccan Style Lamb Liver 3 Ways

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After Eid Al Adha Moroccans always find themselves with an abundance of organs to prepare, cook, or preserve accordingly. One of the most cherished among them is the liver. Growing up, I watched my family transform these humble ingredients into mouth-watering dishes, for those who can stomach it :), each one is cooked with love and tradition. Today, I’m excited to share three Moroccan lamb liver recipes that hold a special place in my heart. The peculiar thing is, even though I never ate them myself, the smell of the spices that filled the room was amazing and takes me back to beautiful moments in time that can never be repeated. These recipes are perfect for this festive time, bringing a taste of Moroccan tradition to your table.

Why Liver?

Liver is often overlooked due to its strong flavour and distinct texture, but this nutrient-dense organ meat offers numerous health benefits that make it worth considering as part of a balanced diet. Despite its off-putting reputation, liver is packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and protein, making it a valuable addition to your diet. In this blog post, we will explore the numerous benefits of eating liver and provide some tips on how to prepare and cook it to enhance its flavour.

The Benefits of Liver

  1. Rich in Essential Vitamins: Liver is one of the most concentrated sources of essential vitamins, particularly vitamin A, B vitamins (including B12 and folate), and vitamin D. Vitamin A is crucial for maintaining healthy vision, skin, and immune function. B vitamins play a vital role in energy production, brain function, and red blood cell formation, while vitamin D is essential for bone health and immune support.
  2. High in Iron: Liver is an excellent source of heme iron, the type of iron that is most easily absorbed by the body. This makes it particularly beneficial for individuals with iron deficiency anemia or those who need to boost their iron intake. Iron is essential for the production of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen throughout the body, and for maintaining energy levels and overall vitality.
  3. Protein-Packed: Liver is a high-quality protein source, providing all the essential amino acids needed for muscle growth, repair, and overall body function. Including liver in your diet can help meet your protein needs, especially for those who follow a high-protein diet for fitness or health reasons.
  4. Loaded with Minerals: In addition to iron, liver is rich in other essential minerals such as zinc, copper, and selenium. Zinc supports immune function, wound healing, and DNA synthesis, while copper plays a role in iron metabolism and the formation of red blood cells. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage and supports thyroid function.
  5. Supports Detoxification: The liver itself is a vital organ for detoxification in the body, and eating liver can provide nutrients that support your own liver function. For example, the high levels of antioxidants and vitamins in liver can help neutralize harmful toxins and promote overall detoxification processes.

Overcoming the Off-Putting Thought of Eating Liver

  1. Choose the Right Type of Liver: The flavour and texture of liver can vary depending on the type of animal it comes from. Beef liver has a strong, robust flavour, while chicken liver is milder and creamier. If you’re new to eating liver, starting with chicken liver can be a more palatable introduction.
  2. Soak Before Cooking: Soaking liver in milk or lemon juice before cooking can help reduce its strong flavour and improve its texture. This simple step can make a significant difference in the taste and overall enjoyment of the dish.
  3. Pair with Bold Flavours: Liver pairs well with bold, complementary flavours that can balance its intensity. Ingredients like garlic, onions, spices, and herbs can enhance the taste of liver dishes. In Moroccan cuisine, liver is often prepared with flavourful spices such as cumin, coriander, and paprika, which can help mask its strong taste.
  4. Cook Properly: Overcooking liver can make it tough and unappetizing. It’s best to cook liver quickly over high heat to keep it tender and juicy. For example, pan-searing or grilling liver can yield delicious results. Additionally, incorporating liver into stews or sauces can help blend its flavour with other ingredients.
  5. Start Small: If you’re hesitant about eating liver, like me, start with small portions and gradually increase the amount as you become more accustomed to its taste and texture. Adding liver to familiar dishes, such as blending it into meatballs or pâtés, can make it more approachable.

Liver Preparation and Cooking Tips

  1. Cleaning and Prepping: Before cooking, remove any membranes or connective tissue from the liver to improve its texture. Rinse the liver under cold water and pat it dry with paper towels.
  2. Marinating: Marinating liver in a mixture of spices, herbs, and acidic ingredients like lemon juice or vinegar can enhance its flavour and tenderize the meat. Allow the liver to marinate for at least 30 minutes to an hour before cooking.
  3. Cooking Methods:
    • Sautéing: Quickly sauté liver slices in a hot pan with a bit of oil or butter. This method preserves the liver’s tenderness and adds a rich, caramelized flavour.
    • Grilling: Grill liver over high heat for a smoky, charred taste. Be careful not to overcook it; a few minutes on each side should suffice.
    • Stewing: Incorporate liver into hearty stews or casseroles. Slow-cooking liver in a flavorful broth or sauce can make it more tender and mask its strong taste and texture.

Recipe 1: Moroccan Liver in Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 500g lamb liver, washed and cut into 2cm cubes. (Young, fresh liver is preferred.)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 lemon juice or 2 tablespoons of vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, and coriander plus a little more for garnish
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
  • 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil (for stir-frying/sauteeing)
  • 3-4 tablespoons passata sauce

Instructions:

  • To prep and marinate the liver, begin by removing the transparent membrane that surrounds the liver.
  • Cut the liver into cubes, roughly 2 cm thick
  • To marinate the liver, combine the cubed liver in a bowl with the spices, lemon juice and 1 tbsp oil then mix thoroughly.
  • Cover the bowl and leave it to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. For best results, you can marinate it overnight.
  • Place 3 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan and heat slightly without burning the oil. Then add the liver cubes and stir-fry until browned but still tender.
  • Stir in the passata sauce and let it simmer for a few minutes to absorb all the flavour and juices from the liver.
  • Serve hot garnished with some Moroccan bread, olives and a nice cup of Moroccan tea!

This recipe is perfect for those wanting to saute their liver and enjoy it with a flavourful sauce. For those that can find the liver texture a bit dry for their liking, it adds some moisture to scoop up with the bread that pairs beautifully with a side of Moroccan cucumber salad.

Recipe 2: Moroccan Liver Kebabs – Kouah

Ingredients:

  • 1lb lamb liver, washed and cut into 2cm cubes. (Young, fresh liver is preferred.)
  • Some lamb fat (optional for added flavour and moisture, BUT ONLY if cooking outside)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 lemon juice or 2 tablespoons of vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, and coriander
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or grated

Instructions:

  • To prep and marinate the liver, begin by removing the transparent membrane that surrounds the liver.
  • Cut the liver into cubes, roughly 2 cm thick.
  • If using lamb fat and heart, cut them into small cubes.
  • To marinate the liver, combine the cubed liver, heart and fat cubes in a bowl with the spices and oil and mix thoroughly.
  • Cover the bowl and leave it to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. For best results, you can marinate it overnight.
  • If using a charcoal grill, light it up and wait until the flames have died down and the coals are covered with a thin layer of grey ash before placing the liver kebabs to cook on it. If you are using fat on the skewers, cooking it inside the house (such as on a grill pan) isn’t recommended. The fat will cause a lot of smoke for the first few minutes while it is melting.
  • While the grill is heating, thread the liver and heart cubes, onto the skewers. (If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in water before threading.)
  • Alternate every few pieces of the liver with a cube of the kidney fat.
  • Make sure the pieces are close together but not overly packed.
  • Place the skewers on the grill and cook, turning them to ensure all sides are evenly grilled.
  • The liver should be cooked through and lightly seared on the outside but still a bit spongy when squeezed.

For this recipe, it is often practised to use lamb liver cubes alongside lamb heart and kidney cubes, with added lamb fat threaded into the skewers after every 2 or 3 cubes, but this is optional. You can enjoy the liver straight from the skewer, but many Moroccans have a beloved tradition of tucking it into some Moroccan bread to create a delicious sandwich accompanied by a salad of tomatoes and onions. Sometimes, harissa sauce and crispy fries are added for an extra crunch. To complete this tasty meal, a cup of traditional Moroccan Mint Tea is usually served, adding a refreshing, sweet touch to the rich and savoury flavours.

Recipe 3: Moroccan Liver Steak with Caramelised Onion

Ingredients:

  • 1lb lamb liver, washed and cut into 2cm cubes. (Young, fresh liver is preferred.)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or black pepper, optional
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 lemon juice or 2 tablespoons of vinegar
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, optional
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander

Instructions:

  • To prepare the liver, ensure that it is thoroughly cleaned and trimmed.
  • Slice the liver into steaks.
  • Score the edges of each slice to prevent curling during frying.
  • In a large bowl, marinate the liver by mixing it with the cumin, paprika, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper or cayenne pepper, lemon, and a bit of oil.
  • Let the liver marinate for at least 30 minutes, and up to two hours, in the fridge.

Cook the Onions:

  • In a large skillet, heat some vegetable or olive oil over medium to medium-high heat.
  • Add the sliced onions to the skillet, seasoning them with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Stir to coat the onions evenly with the oil and seasonings.
  • Fry the onions for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are lightly coloured and tender.
  • Push the onions to the sides of the pan to make space for the liver.

Cook the Liver:

  • If desired, lightly dredge the liver slices in some flour to help with the browning.
  • Add the liver to the pan with the onions and fry for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Stir the onions occasionally to prevent them from burning.

Prepare the Sauce:

  • Once the liver is cooked, transfer the liver and onions to a serving plate.
  • Return the pan to low heat.
  • Add a knob of butter to the pan and swirl it around to melt and combine with the pan juices, creating a flavourful sauce.

Serve:

  • Pour the sauce over the liver and onions.
  • Garnish with chopped parsley and coriander for a fresh touch.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy your Moroccan liver steak with your favourite sides.

Conclusion

While the idea of eating liver might be off-putting to some, the numerous health benefits it offers make it worth considering. With its rich nutritional profile, liver can be a powerful addition to your diet, providing essential vitamins, minerals, and protein. By following these preparation and cooking tips, you can enjoy the unique flavours and textures of liver in a way that is both delicious and nutritious. Embrace the culinary challenge and discover how this often-overlooked ingredient can enhance your meals and support your health.

Moroccan Style Liver in Tomato Sauce

Servings 2
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 500 g lamb liver washed and cut into 2cm cubes. (Young, fresh liver is preferred.)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley and coriander plus a little more for garnish
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced or grated
  • 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil for stir-frying/sauteeing
  • 3-4 tablespoons passata sauce

Instructions

  • To prep and marinate the liver, begin by removing the transparent membrane that surrounds the liver.
  • Cut the liver into cubes, roughly 2 cm thick
  • To marinate the liver, combine the cubed liver in a bowl with the spices, lemon juice and 1 tbsp oil then mix thoroughly.
  • Cover the bowl and leave it to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. For best results, you can marinate it overnight.
  • Place 3 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan and heat slightly without burning the oil. Then add the liver cubes and stir-fry until browned but still tender.
  • Stir in the passata sauce and let it simmer for a few minutes to absorb all the flavour and juices from the liver.
  • Serve hot garnished with some Moroccan bread, olives and a nice cup of Moroccan tea!
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Moroccan
Keyword: lamb, liver

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