Wild Recipes

Venison Liver with Onions, Herbs, and Wine Pan Sauce

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“The key to making liver is to make sure the pan is very hot.” These were the words of my late British great grandmother, whose simple and delicious cooking remains a huge inspiration for me.

However, I did not heed her advice the first time I ever made liver back in my early culinary days. Offal-curious, I convinced my sister to drive me over an hour to a Pennsylvania Dutch farmer’s market so I could buy calf’s liver. And I ruined it. It managed to be both raw and burnt.

I’ve also had my share of overcooked, chewy, gray liver, and liver that was so incredibly “mature” that it was hard to even be in the room with it, let alone eat it. Everything changed when I bought grass-fed beef liver from a small farm, and adapted a recipe submitted by Gay Gilmore, founder of Food.com (formerly Genius Kitchen). It taught me how good organ meat can be if you give it the attention and affection it deserves.

You do want the pan to be hot, but you also don’t want the liver to burn or get overdone, as it will become tough and unpleasant, with a metallic undertone. It should still feel a little soft and have a light pink center. To achieve this, flip the liver slices soon after the blood starts to surface
on them during cooking. You’ll know what I mean.

Liver is great fuel for hard work: a nutrient-dense must-have in your nose-to-tail repertoire for wholesome, vital energy. This is my first time eating venison liver. I was delighted to find it very mild in flavor. It was from a healthy young animal; avoid anything that looks sickly or smells off. Keep your liver clean and cool during field dressing and don’t leave it behind in the gut pile!

Serving Size: 4 servings
Time to make: 30 minutes
Special Equipment: Boning or filet knife, cast iron skillet
Also works with: Beef liver, lamb liver, venison liver

Looking for more liver recipes? Try this Kaleji Liver Masala recipe!

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Venison Liver with Onions, Herbs, and Wine Pan Sauce

Recipe by Heidi Chaya
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Course: Wild Recipes


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  • For the Liver
  • 1 lb venison liver, cut in half-inch slices

  • 2 cups yellow onions, thinly sliced vertically

  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter

  • Olive oil (or other high heat oil)

  • 4 tbsp dried sage (crushed if not already ground)

  • ½ cup minced flat-leaf/Italian parsley

  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

  • ½ tsp salt (mushroom and herb salt is especially good)

  • For the Pan Sauce
  • 3 -4 tbsp butter

  • A splash of high-heat oil

  • 1/4 cup dry red or white wine, or enough to deglaze

  • ¼ cup venison bone broth or beef stock

  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

  • Sides
  • Serve with mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, or greens. Dijon or brown mustard and

  • Southern hot sauce are good accompaniments.


  • Begin by rinsing the liver thoroughly until water runs clear. Pat dry. Trim off the membrane on the outside of the liver to prevent it from curling during cooking, and cut away large, gristley blood vessels (they will look like lighter-colored rings).
  • Mix flour, salt, and pepper in a resealable bag, add liver slices, and toss to evenly coat. Set aside.
  • Heat ¼ cup butter in a cast iron skillet with a splash of oil over medium heat. Cook onions until they’re soft and translucent. Remove onions from skillet and add to a bowl, seasoning with dried sage and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Return pan to medium-high heat and melt 3 tbs butter with another splash of oil. Add dredged liver slices to the pan, cooking about 2 minutes per side or until the liver is nicely browned but still just pink in the center.
  • Remove liver from pan and add to a serving dish, covering with the onions. Use the Pan Sauce ingredients to deglaze the skillet, scraping up any fond (the tasty bits left behind) and simmer until the alcohol in the wine cooks out. Pour pan sauce over liver and onions and sprinkle with minced fresh parsley to serve.
  • Notes
  • Originally the pan sauce was meant to be reduced. If you find the flour left over in the pan from cooking the liver is not enough to thicken the sauce, you can add a little more flour or starch mixed with water. Over the years, I’ve found that red wine has the best flavor for the sauce.
  • Feel free to double up on the parsley too — you won’t regret it.

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Heidi Chaya

Heidi Chaya is a food journalist, farmhand, and avid home cook. Her experiences living and working in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley provide her with many opportunities to expand her culinary horizons and continue to learn and grow through fishing, foraging, and hunting.

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