Lamb or Goat Liver Dumplings
Lamb or goat liver dumplings are a classic use for liver typically enjoyed in Germany and surrounding countries. If you haven’t tried them, and especially, if you have picky eaters that don’t like liver, there’s a good bet that these might be just the ticket. All you’ll need is a little bacon, liver, a good food processor, and some meat broth and the makings for soup.
Liver, especially from small ruminants like lamb, goat, and venison will be stronger tasting than cow or pork, but Chef has a few tricks for smoothing out the flavors. The first is soaking or leeching. The livers are cut into pieces, and then soaked in liquid for 24-48 hours. The soaking helps draw out aromas and flavors, and is the first step of “smoothing out” the liver. Chefs second trick is bacon. Everyones favorite smoked meat does double duty here: adding fat to the dumplings that would otherwise be very lean, and adding smoked flavor–a great way to help make the liver taste more subtle. If you’ve ever enjoyed braunschweiger sausage, the smokey-rich flavor of these dumplings will taste similar.
Once the liver is soaked, the pieces are ground up with lamb bacon until smooth in a food processor with an egg, a few spices, and finally breadcrumbs, then the mixture is chilled for a bit to allow the breadcrumbs to work their magic. From there, the dumplings can be formed into any shape you like, simmered in water until they float, then added to soup, or baked with a dusting of parmesan and breadcrumbs. Pictured in this post are two versions: a vegetable soup with celery root and kale, and a simple lamb broth. Give them a try the next time you find yourself with some extra liver.
Chef’s note on bacon
We use our homemade lamb bacon here, and it’s slightly different than pork bacon. If you’d like to substitute pork bacon, which is harder to puree until smooth, you’ll want to chop it very fine, and probably use a blender to get a very smooth puree, or start it off chopped, pulsing in a food processor, transferring it to the blender with the liver afterwords.
This recipe is by chef Alan Bergo. A chef from Minnesota, Alan is a culinary industry veteran, former executive chef of acclaimed Lucia’s Restaurant, and the Salt Cellar. Founder of the website Forager Chef, he’s best known as a respected authority on Midwestern foraging. Learn more about Alan and his hunt for mushrooms, wild and obscure foods at Forager Chef.
Shepherd Song Farm: Grass to table. We raise lambs & goats traditionally, humanely and sustainably. 100% Grass Fed, Pasture Raised, Never Confined, no Hormones, Grains or Animal Byproducts. Born, raised and processed in the U.S.A. Good for you and good for the environment.
Lamb or Goat Liver Dumplings
- Food processor
- 12 oz lamb liver cut into 2 inch pieces
- 4 oz lamb or other bacon chopped
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup breadcrumbs preferably sourdough
- 1 large egg
- 10 scrapings of fresh nutmeg or ¼ teaspoon ground
- ½ teaspoon dried marjoram or ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger or ½ teaspoon dried
- ½ small onion 2 oz
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
For cooking the dumplings
- 8 cups Lamb stock or water see note
- Soak the liver in water to cover by 1/2 inch for 24 hours, changing the liquid a few times during the process.
- In the bowl of a food processor or high speed blender, pulse all the ingredients except the baking powder and breadcrumbs, then puree until as smooth as possible.
- The mixture should be liquid enough to be pourable. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, stir in the breadcrumbs and allow to rest, covered, for 30 minutes.
- Bring 2 qts of stock to a simmer in a tall, skinny pot and season well. Sift the baking powder to break up lumps, then beat into the meat mixture.
- Using a scoop, or two large spoons, form dumplings about the size of small golf balls, and poach in the beef stock for 10 minutes. Serve the dumplings in their broth, or cool them and reserve, and add to another soup.