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Jack versus the ready meal, take two. (Mine’s the one in the silver container!!)
Today’s challenge was to make liver taste nice. Yeah, I know. My only experience of liver was as a childhood dinner, and I have to admit I wasn’t looking forward to this one bit. But onwards – perhaps my palate has changed…
The ‘ready meal’ version, in it’s most basic form, retails at 75p for a one-person, 300g meal. I decided to see if I could do the same, using similar ingredients…
The ready meal version contained: Potato, water, liver, onion, milk, cornflour, double cream, rapeseed oil, flour, sugar, salt, tomato purée, malted barley extract, black pepper, thyme, white pepper.
I’ve knocked out the milk, cornflour, cream, flour, sugar, salt, malted barley extract, and both types of pepper for a start – and I still reckon mine will taste better. (This is how I started cooking on the cheap, by scanning through ‘celebrity chefs’ ingredients on their recipes and simply eliminating the ones that had no real purpose. Works for me!) So…
Jacks Ready Meal Liver and Mash, 44p.
Ingredients (serves four, costs below):
Around 1kg tinned potatoes (not drained weight)
500g chicken livers, thoroughly rinsed
1 onion
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp mixed herbs
400g chopped tomatoes
First, place the potatoes in a pan of boiling water and simmer gently to soften. Depending on where you buy them, tinned potatoes will already be quite soft, but not quite ‘ready to mash’.
While the potatoes simmer, dice the onion and liver and add to a frying or sauté pan with the oil and herbs. Sauté gently on a medium heat for around 8 minutes, and stir to disturb on occasion to prevent them from burning.
Pour the tomatoes over and crank the heat up to high to boil and thicken. Stir well for a minute or two, then remove from the heat.
Drain and mash the potatoes, keeping a little of the water (around 2tbsp) in the pan for a creamy mash consistency.
Top the mash with the liver and sauce, and serve.
Make it better:
To make it better, and go even further, add an equal amount of chopped bacon to the liver while it is frying. You can also add a splash of milk to the mash if you like it creamy, and serve with green veg.
The supermarket ready meal was 300g for 75p- my recipe made 4 x 400g portions at 44p each – result!
And… I scoffed the lot. So hooray for liver – it’s a great source of iron, B vitamins and protein, too.
Ingredients costs based on Sainsburys and Sainsburys Basics:
1080g tinned potatoes, 38p (19p/540g can). 500g chicken livers, £1 (50p/250g). 1 onion, 11p. 1 tbsp oil, 3p (£4/3l). 1 tsp mixed herbs, 3p (30p/jar). 400g chopped tomatoes, 35p. All prices correct at time of writing.

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Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe.