Arnavut Ciğeri: Turkish/Albanian Liver and Onions

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In Turkey, people call fried liver and onions as Arnavut Ciğeri (arna-VOOT’ JEE-air-EE’) or Albanian Liver. It is most likely a result of the years when the Ottoman Empire ruled Albania and much of Eastern Europe. No matter what the name is, this dish is very delicious.

You can only use young, very fresh calf or lamb liver.
You can only use young, very fresh calf or lamb liver.

Its great taste and tenderness begin with the liver itself. However, you can only use young, very fresh calf or lamb liver. Thus, you can have the fresh taste. So, you need to remove and discard any veins because these can be tough after cooking. Next, you should carefully cube the liver, and season and flour, ready to saute in butter or oil. Furthermore, as for garnish, the chef slices red onions thinly and tossed with salt, chopped Italian parsley. And sumac, a tangy dark-red spice common in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

In Turkey, people call fried liver and onions as Arnavut Ciğeri or Albanian Liver.
In Turkey, people call fried liver and onions as Arnavut Ciğeri or Albanian Liver.

Albanian fried liver and onions are most often served as a meze or starter. But you can also eat larger portions of it as a main course, too. On the other hand, restaurants often serve with slivers or cubes of potatoes that are oven-baked rather than fried. It’s a popular dish in every Turkish tavern or meyhane (MAY-hahn-EY’), along with Turkish rakı (rah-KUH’). Turkish rakı is an anise-flavour liquor. To drink rakı, you should mix it with ice and water. By the way, it is similar to ouzo or arak. So, if you’re looking for new ways to serve nutritious liver that the whole family will like, try this authentic Turkish recipe. For a variation, you are better to take a close look at our recipe below. Let’s take a look for the ingredients;

Ingredients for Turkish or Albanian Liver

  • A pound of fresh calf or lamb liver
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 6 tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1/3 cup olive oil or vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 tsp. ground sumac
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

Steps to Make Turkish or Albanian Liver

  1. Cube the liver with a sharp knife. The cubes should be about the size of dice. Place the cubed liver in a colander and rinse under very cold water washing away any extra blood.

  2. Set aside to drain for a few minutes, then turn the washed liver cubes out on paper towels to remove the extra moisture.

  3. In a clean plastic bag, shake together the salt, pepper, flour, and paprika. Add liver cubes and shake them inside the bag until all are lightly covered with the flour mixture.

    Albanian fried liver and onions are most often served as a meze or starter.
    Albanian fried liver and onions are most often served as a meze or starter.

  4. Melt the butter and oil together in a large skillet. When hot enough for frying, add the floured liver cubes all at once. Gently arrange them with a wooden spoon, so all are in contact with the oil evenly.

    Other Steps to Cook Albanian Liver

  5. When one side is browned, gently turn spoonfuls of the cubes and brown the other side. While browning you can arrange the cubes with your spoon to turn the uncooked sides, but never stir them too vigorously, or you’ll risk losing the flour coating.

    To serve, you can make a bed out the onion mixture and spoon the cooked liver on top.
    To serve, you can make a bed out the onion mixture and spoon the cooked liver on top.

  6. While the liver is cooking, peel and thinly slice the red onion, then cut the slices into quarters. Separate the layers and toss them together with the sumac and chopped parsley, and season with salt.

  7. To serve, you can make a bed out the onion mixture and spoon the cooked liver on top, or you can serve the onions on the side in a separate bowl. The best side dish to go along with the liver is cubed potatoes that are baked or fried.

    So, as you can see it is quite simple to cook Albanian or Turkish liver at home. Once you cook it, you will love its taste. You can also drink ayran together with your meal.

    Bon appetit!

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