When I purchaned Jennifer McLagan’s book Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal the other week, I could hardly wait to sift through it and try out a few recipes. I rarely buy brand new cook books. I like browsing the used book store for cook books that look like they’ve been loved by their previous owner, hoping to find some fantastic recipes. I made an exception in this case because B and I often enjoy what McLagan refers to as the “odd bits.” The prices are reasonable, they are tasty, and they tend to be easy to cook. While I frequently prepare these cuts of meat, I looked to McLagan’s book as a way of making the odd bits interesting to cook because of often rely on cooking methods I know we’ve enjoyed in the past.
This book is fantastic! McLagan not only provides delicious looking recipes, but prefaces each section with stories and interesting facts describing the various foods about which she writes. My favourite anecdote is about food trade between China and the United States. McLagan write “Well, China has now threatened the United State with chicken feet.” When I first read this statement, I imagined Chinese and American Soldiers on a battlefield, with the Chinese soldiers waving chicken feet and shouting angrily. A bizarre image indeed! You’ll need to read the book for yourself to know the actual context of this statement (or don’t and continue to imagine soldiers angrily waving chicken feet).
I’ve read through the book a couple of times now and decided the first dish I would try to prepare was the Sautéed Liver with Indian Spices. Why did I choose this particular recipe? Because I had a package of liver in the freezer and this particular recipe seemed interesting. I had to make quite a few modifications because, as I was cooking, I found that I was out of or didn’t own some of the spices called for in the original recipe. I remember buying turmeric recently and putting it in a jar… but where did I put that jar, because it’s not in my spice cupboard!
Beef Liver with Indian Spices
(adapted from Jennifer McLagan’s cookbook Odd Bits)
- 1 pound of beef liver – approximate cost $3.00
- 1 onion, chopped – approximate cost $0.75
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped – approximate cost $0.15
- 2 tablespoons grated ginger (I bought a prepared jar from the grocery store) – approximate cost $0.15
- 1 teaspoon cumin – approximate cost $0.10
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried chili flakes (more or less depending on the desired spiciness) – approximate cost $0.10
- 1 teaspoon curry powder – approximate cost $0.10
- 2 tablespoons butter – approximate cost $0.25
- 1 tablespoon of beef bouillon – approximate cost $0.25
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil – approximate cost $0.10
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice – approximate cost $0.10
- 1 tablespoon of dried cilantro – approximate cost $0.10
- Finely chop the onion and garlic.
- In a small bowl, stir together the onion, garlic, ginger, cumin, chili flakes, curry powder and 3 tablespoons of water until the mixture forms a paste-like consistency.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan or pot.
- Once the oil is hot, add the beef liver and cook until browned on each side.
- Melt the butter.
- Add the curry paste and cook, stirring constantly for a few minutes.
- Add the beef bouillon and water, then simmer until the liquid thickens to a sauce-like consistency and the liver slices are cooked through.
- Remove from heat.
- Add the lemon juice.
- Sprinkle with the cilantro.
Serve over Basmati rice.
Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $1.29 per serving).