I made this from the leftover sheep’s liver I prepared a few days ago. This is a stew with a passionate heart. The flavors in here are strong: sour red wine, savory liver, pungent-sweet epazote, sweet cinnamon and clove, smokey Spanish paprika. Uninhibited too are the textures: thick, buttery lima beans; large, crunchy croutons; tender chunks of liver; melty, tender sliced vegetables.
Because of all that, this dish makes for a great introduction to liver, as it conceals the strong taste of it among the other, more recognizable strong flavors. Additionally, it makes for a great introduction to lima beans, as it flavors them richly.
Lastly, please use the Spanish smoked paprika for the garnish. It really brings all the flavors together. Sometimes it is OK to skip the garnish. But don’t skip this one. I mean it.
For the Lima Beans
- 3 cups lima beans, dried
- 1 Tbsp. lard (or olive oil)
- 1 white onion, sliced (yellow is fine, but I prefer the spicier edge of the white for this one)
- 1 poblano pepper, sliced (a green bell pepper can be subbed, if that’s what you have)
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 stalk of rhubarb, chopped on the bias
- 3 bay leaves
- 5 cloves, pounded (or 1 teaspoon ground)
- 1 stick of cassia cinnamon (if you have true cinnamon, wrap it in a cheesecloth, as it may break apart while cooking)
- Black pepper
- 3/4 cup red wine
- 1/2 lb. liver, chopped (raw or cooked)
Soak your lima beans in water overnight. For this recipe, I used the beautiful heirloom Christmas lima beans by Zürsun. Of course, any large lima bean will work great.
Get a pot large enough for the entire dish over a medium-high flame. When the surface is hot, drop in the lard (or oil). It should melt immediately and begin to smoke. Quickly drop in the onions. They should sizzle. Stir them around for about 5 minutes, until their edges brown and their pungency turns sweet in the steamy air of the kitchen.
Drop in the peppers. Stir for a minute, then drop in the garlic and rhubarb. Stir for another minute. The bottom of the pot should start to be collecting some flavor stickage (that brown layer at the bottom of stainless steel cookware). That’s good. Throw in the bay leaves, clove and some black pepper (to taste). Stir it for about 2 minutes.
(When I say stir, I actually mean let the ingredients rest in the heat. Think of it like getting into a hot bath tub. It’s shocking at first. You have to move up and down until you get comfortable. If you let the food just sit there, it will burn. If you stir it constantly, it won’t get to relax.)
Deglaze the pot with the red wine. Mix it around. Add the strained and rinsed beans and enough water to cover them by an inch. Turn the flame to high, bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer under the lid for a couple hours, until the beans are tender. Every once in a while stir them. Make sure they don’t burn to the bottom.
Uncover and let them simmer an hour more. This will thicken the stew. As soon as the stew is thickened to your liking, add the chopped liver.
It doesn’t matter whether the liver is cooked or raw. Simmer the liver until the flavor is infused in the stew.
For the Croutons
- 4 cups old bread, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
- 1/3 cup lard (or bacon drippings or olive oil)
- 1 dash of apple cider vinegar
- 1 clove of garlic, smashed
- 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika (the Spanish kind)
- 2 tsp. Mexican oregano (or Mediterranean, if that’s what you have)
- black pepper
- sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a saucepan, melt the lard over low heat. When completely melted, add everything except the bread. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Strain over the bread cubes. Mix for a few minutes until all the cubes are evenly coated.
Lay them out on a baking tray and bake in the oven for about 25-40 minutes, until they are crunchy. Give them a shake every so often. The time to cook them depends on the age of the bread. For this dish, I prefer my croutons on the dark side. Pull and cool.
- Liver & lima bean stew
- Fresh epazote, minced
- Smoked Spanish paprika
- Chive blossoms (optional)
Ladle the stew into a bowl. Top with the garnishes. Serve with a glass of strong red wine.