That title is making your mouth water isn’t it? Just the word liver seems to cast a pallor over the whole recipe (though ‘dumpling’ probably doesn’t sound all that exciting either, at least where it’s clear we’re not talking about the sweet variety). As I mentioned in my last post, I had a half pound of pork liver left over. While I was sort of maxed out on liver, courtesy of the pate itself, I also didn’t want to waste the rest of it. (The liver, by the way, was rather inexpensive, especially for “grass fed” and so forth, but that’s not the point).
I found a recipe for liver dumpling soup in The New York Times Cookbook and thought that might be a good use of it but decided to look online as well. I kept coming up with search results giving me pate recipes–but finally found another version of the liver dumpling soup. Especially since this one had a nice Czech subtitle, (Hovezi Polevka s Nudlemi a Jatrovymi Knedlicky) I figured this was what was ordained for that second half pound of liver. I have, after all, had this soup plenty of times (though I remember it best from Vienna–but then it’s part of that whole Central European cuisine that has lots of similarities across the once-Habsburg lands). In afct, this recipe was posted on Saveur which (having bought it from time to time) seems pretty gourmet, not something I’d associate with liver meatballs!
Very easy. You just puree the liver with the seasonings and drop them by spoonfuls into simmering broth. I used chicken broth instead of beef (because I had it, and it was about to expire) and made much smaller dumplings than suggested (the recipe only called for six to be made–those would be seriously massive dumplings!) We also used egg fettucine rather than angel hair pasta, again, because that’s what we had on hand, and it was a really great substitution. The broth itself turned out to be quite flavorful, thanks to the dumplings lending some richness to the cooking liquid. I know you don’t want to believe me on this, but the soup is really good. And inexpensive. I know, it’s liver, but so is foie gras (and all sorts of other fancy French concoctions, such as, oh I don’t know, pate maison?) and while I suppose some people don’t like the idea of eating fattened duck or goose liver, noone says, “what am I, chopped foie gras?”
Keeping with the Central European theme, I also made cucumber yogurt salad with dill. Perfect way to get some vegetables into the dinner as well. As a first step, you slice and salt the cucumbers over a colander. It really is amazing how much water they release. I think you need to leave it for at least a half hour but longer is certainly better–you’ll see what I mean by observing how much water collects (we set the colander over a plate). Then you need to rinse the cucumber slices before mixing in yogurt (my recipe called for 1 cup per cucumber but I halved that), dill, and minced garlic. And you need to rinse them well. This is where I stumbled–such a seemingly easy instruction to follow as well. Unless you are looking for something approximating the flavor of a cucumber-infused salt lick, make sure to wash all that salt off. As you are probably guessing, there were no vegetables served with dinner after all. Oh well. At least I used up the liver, right?
Czech Liver Dumpling Soup (adapted from Saveur)
- 1/2 lb. pork liver, cut into chunks
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1/4 tsp. fresh marjoram, finely chopped
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
- 6 cups beef broth
- 4 oz. angel hair pasta, broken into thirds
Grind pork liver until smooth in a small food processor, about 10 seconds. Add butter and egg. Pulse to combine. Transfer the pork mixture to a medium bowl. With a rubber spatula, mix in the garlic, bread crumbs, salt, marjoram, and pepper until well combined. Refrigerate the pork mixture for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring the broth to a boil over high heat in a large saucepan. Adjust the heat so that the broth simmers. Using a soup spoon, scoop out 1 heaping portion of liver mixture from the bowl. Using a second spoon, scrape liver mixture into broth, forming an oval-shaped dumpling. Continue to use up all the pork mixture, making 5 more equal-size portions. Cook the pork dumplings in the simmering broth, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add pasta. Continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until the dumplings are cooked through and the pasta is soft, about 15 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper if necessary and ladle soup into 6 small bowls.