Arnavut Cigeri (Turkish Liver and Onions)

A plate of Turkish-style fried liver and onions
Elizabeth Taviloglu
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
573 Calories
40g Fat
16g Carbs
37g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 573
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 40g 51%
Saturated Fat 13g 63%
Cholesterol 599mg 200%
Sodium 493mg 21%
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 37g
Vitamin C 13mg 64%
Calcium 33mg 3%
Iron 11mg 59%
Potassium 374mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

In Turkey, fried liver and onions are called Arnavut Ciğeri (arna-VOOT' JEE-air-EE') or Albanian Liver, most likely a result of the years when the Ottomans ruled Albania and much of Eastern Europe. Whatever the name is, this dish is truly delicious.

Its great taste and tenderness begin with the liver itself. Only young, very fresh calf or lamb liver is used. Any veins need to be removed and discarded as these can be tough after cooking. Next, the liver should be carefully cubed, seasoned and floured, ready to saute in butter or oil. For garnish, red onions are sliced thinly and tossed with salt, chopped Italian parsley, and sumac, a tangy dark-red spice common in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

Albanian fried liver and onions are most often served as a meze or starter, but you can eat larger portions of it as a main course, too. In restaurants, it's often served with slivers or cubes of potatoes that are oven-baked rather than fried.

It's a popular dish in every Turkish tavern or meyhane (MAY-hahn-EY'), along with Turkish rakı (rah-KUH'), an anise-flavored liquor mixed with ice and water, similar to ouzo or arak.

If you're looking for new ways to serve nutritious liver that the whole family will like, try this authentic Turkish recipe. For a variation, try this Moroccan Fried Liver and Onions recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh calf or lamb liver, cubed

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • 1 teaspoon freshly black pepper

  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground paprika

  • 4 tablespoons butter

  • 1/3 cup olive or vegetable oil

  • 1 large red onion, peeled, thinly sliced, and cut into quarters

  • 1 teaspoon ground sumac

  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Place liver in a colander and rinse under very cold water, washing away any extra blood.

  3. Set aside to drain for a few minutes, then turn washed liver cubes out on paper towels to remove extra moisture.

  4. In a clean plastic bag, shake together salt, pepper, flour, and paprika. Add liver cubes and shake inside bag until all are lightly covered with flour mixture.

  5. Melt butter and oil together in a large skillet. When hot enough for frying, add floured liver cubes all at once. Gently arrange with a wooden spoon, so all are in contact with the oil evenly.

  6. When one side is browned, gently turn spoonfuls of cubes and brown other side. While browning, you can arrange cubes with spoon to turn uncooked sides, but never stir them too vigorously, or you'll risk losing the flour coating.

  7. Toss red onion slices together with sumac and chopped parsley. Season with salt.

  8. To serve, you can make a bed out the onion mixture and spoon cooked liver on top, or you can serve onions on the side in a separate bowl. The best side dish to go along with liver are cubed potatoes that are baked or fried.