Liver Mush – DIY Make it Your Own Self

three types of north carolina liver mushLiver mush (aka liver pudding) has been my favorite breakfast meat since I was a child.

Few of my childhood friends seemed to know what it was, so I realized then it was not eaten by all southerners.

What a shame, but they don’t know what they don’t know.

When I went to college I learned it was hard to find liver mush in stores outside of the Piedmont section of North Carolina.

And after I moved away from the South, I used to freeze liver mush and bring it back on the plane (despite the warning to never freeze liver mush; it gets a little crumbly, but tastes the same).

Everyone with an open mind that I shared liver mush with, liked it. I even had a roommate that stole my liver mush.

Most commented that “It doesn’t taste that much like liver”. No, because it is diluted with cornmeal.

Government Screws up Ice Cream Party and Liver Mush

But since the Federal Government mandated a large percentage of our gasoline be diluted with ethanol (most of which comes from corn), all of my favorite makers of liver mush started using flour (unintended consequences – but that is another story) to reduce costs.

I tasted the difference immediately and though I wouldn’t say I don’t like it, I prefer the taste and the texture with 100% cornmeal. Plus, for anyone worried about or trying to avoid gluten, 100% cornmeal is the way to go.

DIY Liver Mush

homemade elk liver mush cooking on an iron griddle

Homemade elk liver mush browning on an iron griddle.

So, I no longer challenge the TSA agents and their dogs with 10 to 20 frozen 1 lb blocks of “C4” as I checked in with my frozen liver mush in my bags. We make our own liver mush now.

Our first attempt was a spur of the moment thing Sonia made with a turkey liver (Yes, my New Jersey girl loves liver mush). It was a very small batch, but it was good.

Traditional liver mush is made with pork livers and pork fat, but we have made liver mush with livers from elk, venison, beef, chicken, turkey and pork and we have used pork fat, beef fat and bacon drippings.

homemade elk liver mush and egg breakfast

DIY Elk Liver Mush and Egg Breakfast

I put this in the Hunting Section because I don’t want to start a food/recipe section. But hunting and fishing and food obviously go together. This is an excellent way to make use of elk and venison livers.

Making your own liver mush goes right along with making your own sausage (see basic sausage, smoked kielbasa and Corned Elk and Smoked Pastrami Recipes.

When I get an elk or a mule deer, I usually have one fresh liver and onions meal, then turn the rest of the liver into liver mush. That is proof that God loves us.

How to Eat Liver Mush

Liver mush is a fully cooked preparation that must be stored in the frig. Most is eaten heated and served for breakfast.

Some like it just warmed up, others like it crispy on the outside. I like either way.

It is also good cold or heated on a sandwich (mustard, not mayo and certainly not ketchup).

Since I like sweet/savory combinations like ham and pineapple, I combine liver mush and bread or biscuit with jam or preserves.

Ingredients for Homemade DIY Liver Mush

  • 1 fresh hog liver
  • 1 ½ lbs fresh fat pork
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Sage
  • Red pepper

Preparation: Cook liver and fat until tender.

Remove the liver from the broth and grind/mash it up.

Add corn meal to the broth (stir) and add salt, sage and peppers to taste.

Cook until corn meal is done (stir constantly).

Mix liver back into mix, then pour (or dip) into mold and let cool.

Alternative Ingredients and Notes:

  • Use any kind of liver – we have used beef, elk, venison, turkey and chicken livers
  • You can cook liver and cornmeal at the same time – but blend the livers first (carefully unless you want it very smooth)
  • Then add enough broth, stock or water for the cornmeal to soak up
  • Since grits is always 4:1 (water:grits), we use this same ratio for the cornmeal
  • Sonia made liver mush with grits because we didn’t have cornmeal (a little coarse, but still good)
  • You can try to skimp on the fat, but you will be disappointed
  • We have used beef fat, pork fat and bacon drippings

Origins of Liver Mush – Everything You Wanted to Know, but Were Afraid to Ask

The Piedmont section of North Carolina was settled by German immigrants. Many began to move south from Pennsylvania as land there became harder to find by the late 1740s.

My ancestors were mostly German that settled between the Yadkin and Pee Dee Rivers of North Carolina about the same time and place as Daniel Boone. In fact, my father found evidence during an ancestry search that one of our ancestors had a son that married one of Daniel Boone’s daughters.

As with all immigrants, they brought their traditional foods with them. German immigrants brought a food they called “panhaus”.

Panhaus is similar to scrapple and to liver mush and liver pudding. In America, the Panhaus recipe was adapted to used cornmeal, specifically cornmeal mush which was an American staple.

The name liver mush makes sense. Scrapple refers to the process of scraping the pot that was used to cook pork after slaughtering and butchering. The broth from the pot is used to make Panhaus, Scrapple and Liver mush.

Panhaus (aka ponhaws, pannhas or panhoss) is from the Westfall and Rheinland regions. It includes pork, bacon and/or beef “bits” cooked with salt, pepper, spices and flour into a slurry.

The slurry is cooled (not gelled) and then blood is added to the mixture. The slurry is then forced into sausage skins and is known by a variety of names; Blutwurst (blood sausage), Hackfleisch (ground meat (without the skin like a pudding) or Leberwurst (liverwurst).

It is eaten cold or cooked and served with grilled onions, potatoes (like potato salad) and or sauerkraut.

I learned that German immigrants in Texas make panhaus with oatmeal. This is starting to sound very similar to the famous Scottish haggis.

Years ago, I ran into a guy from Alabama that after tasting liver mush for the first time said “That the same thing as that fancy French Pâté”.

I’ve had other friends say “I hate liver, but I like that liver mush”.

Give it a try.


Notes on other Similar German Sausages

Much of the following information and recipes came from a lost source on the web. I found this information years ago, while researching liver mush recipes, but can no longer find the original website. If anyone knows where this information came from, please let me know and I will give credit where credit is due. I think it is too valuable to be lost so I include it here.

Panhaus

Panhaus was traditionally very similar to head cheese, but now has been modified a bit. My mom uses a bit of black pepper as the seasoning and it is fried crispy outside, soft on the inside and eaten WITHOUT any other additions. This is a meat product not fried corn mush!

Knipp

In northern Germany, one of the local specialties is “Knipp”, which is quite similar to scrapple, and is made from oatmeal, pork belly, pork offal, beef liver, and broth and is seasoned with salt, pepper, and allspice.

Knipp is made from oat groats, pork head, pork belly, pork rind, liver and broth and seasoned with salt, allspice and pepper. Knipp is usually sold in roughly 30 cm long and 10-15 cm thick sausages as a Stange (stick) or Rolle (roll). The smoked sausage is sold and consumed having been roasted, either just with bread, or with roast or boiled potatoes and gherkins, sweet and sour pumpkin, apple sauce (Apfelmus) and beetroot or even cold or hot on wholemeal bread.

Sometimes crispy, fried slices of Beutelwurst are served with Knipp; this dish is known in Low Saxon as Knipp un Büddelwust.

In the Lüneburg Heath, Knipp is made with Heidschnucke meat and is known as Heidjer Knipp.

Calenberger Pfannenschlag is a type of Knipp sausage made by mixing meat with grains (Grützwurst) related to Pinkel which comes from the Bremen and Lower Saxony regions of Germany.

In Oldenburg, Knipp is called Hackgrütze.

Heidschnucke

In the Lüneburger Heide, “Heidschnucke” mutton or lamb is used in place of the pork.

Weckewerk

In North Hessen, a similar local specialty is “Weckewerk”, which may also be prepared with soaked stale white bread and seasoned with marjoram, garlic, onion, and caraway seeds. Usual accompaniments are steamed, boiled or fried potatoes, beets, and pickles.

Buckwheat (Buchweizen) is commonly used in Germany in the preparation of some of the items described above.

Scrapple

Scrapple is typically made of hog offal, such as the head, heart, liver, and other scraps, which are boiled with any bones attached (often the entire head), to make a broth. Once cooked, bones and fat are discarded, the meat is reserved, and (dry) cornmeal is boiled in the broth to make a mush. The meat, finely minced, is returned, and seasonings, typically sage, thyme, savory, black pepper and others are added.

The mush is formed into loaves and allowed to cool thoroughly until set. The proportions and seasoning are very much a matter of the region and the cook’s taste.

In Texas with the influx of a large German contingent of immigrants, the use of Panhaus is largely found in German based communities like New Braunfels and surrounding areas. With modern chilling and packaging procedures, Pannaus is to be found in many community grocery stores and meat markets, particularly those with old fashioned meat butchering capabilities.

Liverwurst

Braunschweiger or Leberwurst (anglicized as liverwurst) or Pasztetowa (Polish) is usually made from pig or calf livers in Europe from the Netherlands east to Russia and from Bulgaria north to Finland.

Each region is know for specific distinctions in the recipe (actually protected as

Boudin

Many people believe pudding began its life as the French (boudin); meaning “guts” and another meaning “to swell.” And Larousse defines “boudiner” as “to stuff.”

Any of them could be right, in fact, all three make sense to us, especially together: stuff a gut and cook it, and it will swell.

Such are the shared ancestral characteristics of “boudin” (both “noir” and “blanc”), Black Pudding, White Pudding, Blood Pudding or “Blutwurst”, and what Robert Burns calls the “great chieftain of the pudding race,” Haggis.

Suet Pudding

Suet Pudding – A suet pudding may be boiled, steamed, or baked; it may be tied loosely in a cloth or packed into a pudding-basin; it may be a solid, doughy mass or a thin pastry envelope filled with meat or fruit. It is an acquired taste, perhaps (and we have acquired it all too easily). Worse, we have adopted the traditional practice of slicing leftover pudding and frying it in butter, and we regret to inform you that it is very good indeed.

In fact, all of these various types of liver sausage are very similar to pâté and terrines except that the French make Foie gras (French meaning fat liver) from extraordinarily fat livers created by force feeding geese or ducks. So liver mush is just a simpler, more humane version of Foie gras.

Bon appetit!

 


More Liver Mush Recipes

Ingredients for Liver Mush

  • 1 cup grits, harina or cornmeal
  • 4 cups cold water
  • lard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼-½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs pork liver, sliced
  • 4 eggs
  • sage, salt, pepper, cayenne to taste

Directions

  • Melt lard or shortening in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat
  • Season liver with salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Sauté liver in lard or shortening until done through
  • Remove liver from pan, drain and cool
  • Place cooked liver in food processor and finely grind
  • In a large sauce pan bring 4 cups water to a rapid boil
  • Add 1 tsp salt, ¼-½ tsp ground black pepper and grits/harina/cornmeal
  • Cook until grits/meal mush is very stiff
  • Add eggs, cayenne pepper and sage to taste and ground cooked liver and mix well

Another Basic Liver Pudding Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. pork liver
  • 1 large thick pork chop with bone
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • red pepper flakes

Directions:

  • Trim pork liver of all membrane, fat, veins, etc.
  • Leave fat on pork chop
  • Simmer pork liver and pork chop in water until both are fork tender
  • Reserve cooking liquid
  • Cut liver and meat from pork chop into 1″ cubes and put both through the coarse blade of food grinder (food processors don’t create the proper texture)
  • Put through grinder a second or third time until mixture is as smooth as you like
  • Put ground liver/pork mixture in large mixing bowl and season to taste with salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes
  • Moisten mixture with some of the reserved cooking liquid
  • Press finished mixture into lightly oiled glass loaf pan, cover surface with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 24 hours for flavors to blend
  • Slice to serve. May be kept refrigerated 4-5 days

Liver Pudding Recipe

Ingredients :

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup raw rice
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Butter or margarine
  • 1 ½ cup milk
  • 1 lb. raw liver, minced
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried marjoram
  • 1/2 cup seedless raisins
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs

Directions:

  • Bring water to boil, add salt and gradually pour in the rice
  • Cook, covered over low heat for 15-20 minutes until water is absorbed
  • Cool slightly
  • Brown onion in 1 tablespoon butter
  • Add milk, liver, onion, molasses, spices and raisins to the rice
  • Mix in egg
  • Pour into well-greased casserole
  • Sprinkle with bread crumbs and dot with butter
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until firm
  • Serve with lingonberry or cranberry sauce or jam and melted butter to pour over
  • 4-6 servings

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