I once only knew lamb’s fry as a cooked lamb’s liver dish – a delicious creation that I first ate about 20 years ago as a good hangover cure. However, there’s more to the name. Lamb’s fry also refers to raw lamb’s liver, as well as other lamb offal served as food (including the testicles, sweetbreads, heart, kidneys, and sometimes the brain and abdominal fat). 1 In Australia and New Zealand, lamb’s fry is specifically the liver. 2 When buying lamb’s liver at the butcher or supermarket in Australia, it’s likely that you’ll see it labeled as lamb’s fry.
Before lamb’s fry (the dish, as I know it), I’d enjoyed liver (both cooked and raw) before in Lao cuisine. Lao food is all about celebrating nose to tail eating (including offal) and liver (a delicacy in my books) is no exception. Liver is a flavourful and nutrient-rich organ meat. It’s a good source of iron, protein, vitamin B-12 and vitamin A. 3 So it makes sense to utilize it and not let it go to waste. Along with other fancy meats, thinly sliced liver are added to Lao dishes, like larb – a favourite meaty and herbal salad, or khao poon – a curry broth vermicelli soup. ?
Back to the dish at hand. Lamb’s fry is easy and inexpensive to make, not to mention delicious. Palates are changing but being an offal, lamb’s liver is still often cheaply priced if/when you can find it. 4 It is sliced then coated in seasoned flour, before being fried and simmered with chopped bacon and onion in a gravy sauce. Served hot with buttered toasts – lamb’s fry truly makes a comforting and nourishing breakfast meal (or any meal of the day). It is said to be part of the slow food movement. If you’re lucky, it can sometimes be found served in Aussie cafes, pubs and roadhouses. 5
We recently had lamb’s fry at the Border Village Roadhouse on our cross-country road trip mid last year. When I saw it on the menu, I was pleasantly surprised and knew that I had to try it. It was a cold early morning and I wanted a hot breakfast so it suited perfectly. I also wanted to re-taste the distinctive flavour of the liver dish that I hadn’t eaten in a while. And, I wanted to find out what their brew was like. The lamb’s fry was served as a deliciously dark gravy sauce of tender liver chunks, salty bacon pieces and rather fresh/crisp onion slices. It was simply served on buttered toasts. I dusted it with white pepper and ate it with a coffee. It was steaming hot, comforting and delicious!
Since then, I’ve made lamb’s fry a couple of times at home (which has been well received by all of us). The following recipe is based on the dish that I ate 20 years ago. However, I’ve added some of my favourite ingredients along the way, including crushed garlic and sliced ginger – both of which are optional but impart amazing character to the dish, from my point of view. The red wine is also optional but as you can imagine, it too adds wonderful depth of flavour. This is an easy recipe and I’m confident that many offal fans will be pleased.
There are a few variations to cooking lamb’s fry. For example, you can cook and serve the bacon uncut and separately so that it remains crispy. Or, you can add the sliced onions to the gravy sauce just before serving so that it remains slightly raw and crunchy, as illustrated in the dish served at the Border Village Roadhouse. Also, if you like, you can add some milk to the gravy sauce to thin it down. This will both make it turn whiter and mellow its flavour, giving it a different kind of deliciousness.
The dish keeps quite well – for a few days, at least. If there’s leftovers, simply put it in a plastic container and store it in the fridge for later. You can then warm it up in the microwave and have it with toasts, mash or rice whenever you want. One important point to remember is to not overcook the liver. Otherwise, it can become tough and grainy. When perfectly done, the liver should be tender and still slightly pink in the centre. ?
I hope you’ll give this recipe a try. Other than the lamb’s liver, it’s likely that you’ll have many of the ingredients already at home. Lamb’s liver can be a difficult cut to find but well worth the effort. Like other offal, it’s underrated, inexpensive and very nutritious. So why not pop over to your local butcher or supermarket today and ask for some fresh lamb’s liver and give this recipe a go? Who knows, you might just love it and it might also become your new favourite breakfast and hangover cure too.
Tell me reader, do you enjoy eating offal? What do you think of lamb’s fry (both lamb’s liver and this dish)?
- 500 grams of lamb's liver
- 6 bacon rashers
- 1 large onion
- 2 garlic cloves (optional)
- 2 cm piece of ginger (optional)
- 1 cup of gravy (I used Gravox traditional gravy)
- 1 cup of chicken stock (I used Messels chicken stock cubes)
- 1 cup of flour (I used plain wholemeal flour)
- 2 tbsp of oil
- 1 tbsp of butter
- salt & pepper
- ½ cup of red wine (optional)
- ½ bunch of parsley (chopped)
- toasts or mash (to serve)
- Cut up the lamb's fry into 1 cm thick slices. Cut the bacon into 2 cm pieces. Put aside.
- Put flour on a plate. Season it with salt & pepper. Coat the liver pieces with the seasoned flour. Put aside. Reserve 2 tbsp of the remaining flour.
- Thinly slice the onion and ginger. Crush the garlic. Chop the parsley. Put aside.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk the gravy, chicken stock and the reserved flour together. Put aside.
- In a frying pan, add 1 tbsp of oil. Increase heat to medium. Add the onion, ginger and garlic. Fry until softened. Remove from the pan and put aside.
- Add 1 tbsp of oil to the pan. Add the bacon and fry until lightly browned. Remove from pan and put aside. Retain the oil in the pan.
- Add the liver pieces to the pan and fry in batches until lightly browned on both sides. Remove from the pan when ready and put aside.
- Add the butter to the pan. Add the gravy, chicken stock and flour mixture. Add the wine. Scrap the base of the pan. Stir to mix through and simmer for a minute.
- Add the liver pieces, bacon, onion, ginger and garlic back to the pan and stir through. Simmer until the lamb's liver is done. Don't overcook. The liver should be tender and slightly pink in the centre. Adjust the consistency of the gravy by adding ½ cup of water if necessary. Taste test and season with salt and pepper if necessary.
- Add ½ of the chopped parsley and stir through.
- Serve immediately with toasts or mash. Garnish with remaining parsley.
- Bon appetite & sern sap!
- Reference: Wikipedia. ↩
- In the United States, “lamb fries” are specifically the testicles. In the U.K., it was all offal, though recently testicle has become rare. Reference: Wikipedia. ↩
- Reference: LIVESTRONG.COM. ↩
- I’ve only seen lamb’s liver for sale at the shop but you might also find calf’s liver too. Perhaps you can ask your butcher for it? Calf’s liver has a slightly sweeter taste than lamb’s liver, although both are equal in terms of tenderness. Reference: LIVESTRONG.COM. ↩
- Reference: Wikipedia. ↩