The Plea: Remember the Liver

Thoughts on eating venison from Editor Anthony Licata.

__When my dad was teaching me to hunt deer, he'd run through a checklist before we left the house. License? Got it. Cartridges? Yep. Deer drag? Uh-huh. Empty plastic bread bag? Of course. How else was I to carry home that once-a-year treat: fresh venison liver?

I still pack a bag for liver, but I seem to be the exception judging from the strange looks I get from my hunting companions as I reach into the entrails of their field-dressed deer to pluck that glorious purple slab out of the pile.

Liver, once an American staple, now has an image problem. Maybe it's because a generation only knows the dish from Mom's frying a nasty old cow's liver until it had the texture of a hunting boot. Which is too bad, since venison liver, served slightly pink inside, is packed with flavor and a traditional way to celebrate a successful hunt. I've eaten it as a family meal at home, as a snack at camp, and grilled over a fire on a mountainside as the buck it belonged to lay next to me, cooling in the snow.

Our increasingly timid tastes have hurt liver's popu­larity. Hunters should be more adventurous. If you're the type who loves grilled chicken breast, there's not much I can tell you other than, if you're not going to take the liver, do you mind if I do?