Top Chef University Blog

Stand and De-LIVER

Posted by Heidi McDonald on Sun, Nov 28, 2010 @ 09:28 PM

A saying goes, “You can dress her up, but you can’t take her out.” One good example of this is in the movie, “My Fair Lady.” She’s couture head to toe, but still yells at the horse to “move your bloomin’ oss!”

There is no way around this. Liver is an unpleasant taste I remember from my childhood. Chef CJ can dress this up as nicely as he wants to, but it’s still liver.

Surprisingly, I had no issue preparing liver. My resolve was intact while cutting, breading, even frying the liver. It even looked as pretty as Chef CJ’s.

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I explained how when we kill and eat an animal, it is important for sustainability’s sake to use the entire animal, like the Native Americans do. I explained that when you eat a hot dog or a sausage, you are often actually eating parts more disgusting-sounding than liver. And everyone in my house loves hot dogs. Right? After giving the preceding pep talk, I volunteered to take the first bite.

As the family watched, I took a generous bite sandwiched in sautéed onions and bacon…and then immediately had to run to the bathroom. Not exactly the best way to sell the other people in the family on trying the dish. Fortunately, one person had been upstairs and didn’t see this happen. We all yelled for the unsuspecting 13-year-old son, who loped down the stairs in typical devil-may-care fashion.

“Want to try a bite?” I asked.

He shrugged, and said, “Sure.” I compiled a small bite, also with an onion and a piece of bacon, and gave it to him. The kid ate it slowly, swallowed it down, said, “Not your best dish, Mom,” then pulled his knitted cap down over his forehead and moved his bloomin’ oss back upstairs before I could react.

I have a great husband who loves me. It’s either this, or, he wanted to further test his theory about whether he really can eat anything if it’s got bacon on it. In either case, the man ate his bite, sans onion. He wasn’t happy about it, but, he swallowed his, too. “It’s still liver,” he shrugged. Exactly.

When I turned to the 6-year-old, he did a spot-on Will Smith: “Oh, HELL no.”

“Sweetie,” I began, not even bothering to correct his language this particular time. “If you don’t like this, you’ll never have to eat it again.”

Our little guy, we love him, but one of his nicknames is Master Thespian. Master Thespian gave another Oscarworthy performance, this time, a dramatic rendition of what had just happened to his Mommy. Embellished, even. He was in the bathroom for an extra five minutes, pretending to gag.

Only the pickiest eater in the house was left. Two of the four people who tried the liver, couldn’t even swallow it, and the two who did, weren’t happy. “I’m gonna give you a pass on this one, if you want,” I offered. She took it as a challenge, and it was on like Donkey Kong. I prepared a bite for her with the bacon and onion. She sat there unaffected for a few seconds before giving us the Scrat Eye Twitch. She did swallow her bite but demanded the rest of the bacon in payment.

Fletcher the Beagle, who remained unobtrusive but hopeful this entire time, won the doggie lottery. Onions are poisonous to dogs, so I cleared the onions and then gave the entire plate of liver, to the dog. There must be a reason they call those dog treats Liv-A-Snaps, right?

Now, I am not sure what it means when a dog that eats everything, and I mean EVERYTHING (wallpaper off the bathroom walls, headphones, laundry, etc…) sniffs the liver and leaves it on the floor. Actually, I do. It’s still liver. But the point here is that the O’Beagle (combination word for obese and beagle) wouldn’t even eat it. This does not make me look forward to the sweetbread or the tongue.

Searching the Strip District for those ingredients, I found The Crested Duck, which put me in touch with their chef, who is butchering a sheep on Monday. I have been promised the sweetbreads and the tongue, which I will collect on Wednesday and prepare for your reading pleasure. In the meantime, I hope to go back through Top Chef University to find a couple of the recipes that I either did not have time for, or did not report on when I cooked them. This should take us to the end of the month, or at least keep my mind off what happens when I try the rest of the Offal.

Reaching for the Pepto,

Heidi in Pittsburgh

Tags: cooking, learn cooking, culinary schools, cooking academy, fry, frying, bacon, recipes, CJ Jacobsen, Top Chef University, Top Chef, bravo, saute