Calf's Liver and Bacon

Calf's liver and bacon is a dish containing calf liver and bacon. Consisting of affordable and hearty ingredients, it was popular in cookbooks of the 19th and early 20th century.


Cookbook authors such as Xavier Raskin (1922) have suggested that the dish was French in origin,[2] but in the United States it occurs in cookbooks as early as 1857,[3] and in Scotland as early as 1862.[4] In 2004, the American Good Housekeeping cookbook referred to the dish as "classic",[1] a status reinforced by its occurrence in such famous cookbooks as Isabella Beeton's Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management[5] and Christian Isobel Johnstone's The Cook and Housewife's Manual.[4] While the "simple"[6] and "homely"[7] dish is found frequently in cookbooks that feature inexpensive foods, such as the 1898 Practical Cookery Manual of Plain and Middle Class Recipes,[8] it is also featured in The White House Cookbook by Hugo Ziemann, who was a White House steward.[9]

For many years, liver was quite inexpensive in the United States, as many Americans were not interested in it. As Americans became more cosmopolitan in their tastes, they learned to appreciate new dishes. This trend, combined with the discovery of the health benefits of iron-rich liver, caused an increase in demand for, and the price of, liver.[10]

For some restaurants, liver and bacon was a signature dish: in 1925, the Homestead Room in St. Petersburg, Florida, took out a full-page ad praising its calf's liver and bacon.[11] The dish is so hearty that The New York Times suggested it as a good food for winter, a season when "the body demands more fuel and we turn to heavier dishes."[12] It was the favorite food of Charlie Finley, owner of the Oakland A's.[13]


Slices of bacon are fried and slices of calf liver (often covered in flour) are sauteed in the rendered fat. The bacon and slices of liver are placed in a dish and covered with a gravy[14] made with the fond.[2][3] Many recipes call for the liver to be scalded first.[15][16]

It is imperative that the dish be served quickly, as the liver ought to be eaten when hot and tender.[17] Besides at dinner or supper (Mrs Beeton suggests it aux fines herbes as an entree in a copious meal[18]), one finds calf's liver and bacon as a breakfast meat also,[19][20] for instance in the Sherwood hotel in Florida, 1903.[21]


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