Asturias is situated on the northern Atlantic coast of Spain. Being mountainous and next to the sea, the region has lush green pastures and you will find fresh milk in Spanish shops with a Central Lechera Asturiana brand, along with pictures of cows. Milk goes hand in hand with butter and cheese – this is the land of dairy and you’ll find some people cooking with butter instead of olive oil – ¡Madre mía! Hígado Asturiano is a dish of liver cooked with bacon, onions and tomato – there’s a simpler Hígado Encebollado (liver with onions) cooked all over Spain (sometimes with pig’s liver), not dissimilar to something you might find elsewhere in Europe.
Receta de Hígado Asturiano (serves 4):
500g ox liver, or any other liver (sinews removed and cut into bite sized pieces)
3 slices smoked streaky bacon (chopped)
1 large Spanish onion (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
4 medium tomatoes (grated)
a large handful coriander or parsely (chopped)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (ground)
a squirt of anchovy paste
a dessertspoon tomato purée
a glass dry white wine (or cider)
a splash sherry vinegar
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
a knob of butter
extra virgin olive oil
a teaspoon chopped coriander or parsely as a dressing
Chop the liver into bite sized pieces.
Similarly chop the streaky bacon up and brown with a splash of olive oil in a large metal casserole or terracotta cazuela.
Warm half a teaspoon of cumin seeds and grind up with a pinch of coarse sea salt.
Add a knob of butter to the pan along with a glug of olive oil, turn the heat up a bit and brown the liver quickly, then reserve to a plate. Sprinkle on the cumin, along with salt and pepper, while cooking. The butter adds a little sweetness to the liver and the oil stops the butter burning.
Using the same casserole, pour on more olive oil and sofreír (gently poach) the chopped onion, until it becomes soft.
Mix in the garlic and grate on 4 medium tomatoes – cut in half and grate the wet side. Dispose of the skin.
Return the liver and bacon to the pan.
Mix in the white wine, sherry vinegar, anchovy paste, tomato purée and a handful of chopped coriander (or parsley).
Cook for 30 minutes with the lid on.
Meanwhile, toast a dozen blanched peeled almonds in a dry pan.
12 blanched peeled almonds (scorched)
1 clove of garlic (chopped)
1 cup of water
Grind up the toasted almonds and garlic, using a mortar and pestle, adding water slowly to make a milk. Allow this to sit while the liver cooks.
Stir in the almond milk and cook for another 30 minutes on low.
Serve with fried potatoes, or as a tapa with triangles of toast. Drink a glass or two of Sidra Natural Nietos de Asturias (a natural local cider) with the liver. Astrurian cider should be poured from above the shoulder, with the glass held quite low – this aereates the drink!
This is probably the most delicate liver dish I’ve ever eaten!
Lovely recipe! I cook liver in much the same way but without the almond milk. Must try that!
Thanks James – I hope you enjoy it!
What an interesting dish. I definitely need to try it some time. The finishing with almond milk is particularly intriguing.
Thanks Frank – the milk definitely lightens the liver flavour in a similar way to adding cow’s milk. I suspect this could be quite an old dish, as almond milk was hugely popular during the Middle Ages and used in many recipes of the day. It’s a very fitting Lentern ingredient, though obviously not with meat! Ajoblanco is a very good example of a cold almond milk soup with garlic.
Oh this would be great on toast!
And cooking with butter! My kind of fat. This is similar to how my mum made liver ( without the almond milk) and try as I might I have never been able to emulate her recipe.
Maybe I should try this one when I get done fresh liver.
My step mother’s Irish – she cooks everything with butter. In Spain there are different cooking styles relative to what’s farmed. In the pork farming regions, people cook with lard and preserve pork in lard, like a duck confit. Olive oil is popular throughout, but less likely to be used if there are no local olives.
That makes sense.
It’s changing a bit now with supermarkets, bbut traditionally, people use what’s local. I had a friend years ago, from Valencia – he thought the whole idea of cooking with butter was greasy and disgusting!
The flavors jump out! This would make a wonderful Sunday Supper. Spain is my favorite European country. I’ve been lucky enough to spend quality time there, and love the cuisine.
Thanks Velva – I completley agree with you and it’s my favourite country too!
I can’t wait to try this. I have a pound of liver in the freezer from an organic butcher that I’ve been waiting to try. This will be the recipe!
Excellent – thanks David!