Lubys liver and onions DSC 3218

Luby’s liver and onions

I grew up in a frugal household. After witnessing Houston’s boom and bust in the 70’s, my parents were classic penny pinchers—they clipped coupons, insisted I bring my lunch to school, chose the library over a bookstore for fresh books, flew Southwest Airlines, championed the benefits of a free education and encouraged me to earn and save my own money.

And no fancy restaurants for my family—instead you’d find us every Wednesday walking the line at Luby’s. Why? Because on Wednesdays, kids could eat for free.

While Luby’s was never hip, I actually enjoyed my weekly meal there. The possibilities were endless, a 30-foot long buffet of whatever you wanted. You’d start with the Jello, lettuce. and fruit salads, then slide your tray along the rails to the meats (where there was always a whole nicely browned turkey and juicy hunk of prime rib just waiting for carving), then the vegetables (yes, macaroni and cheese is a vegetable), the breads (clover rolls, cornbread, and Texas toast), the desserts (cream pies, cobblers, and more Jello) and the drinks (Coke, milk and iced tea).

I’m stuck in my ways, so I always ordered the same thing, a Lu Ann Platter with fried fish, mashed potatoes, green beans, and a roll. When I became a rebellious teenager, however, I switched from fish to liver and onions and added fruit salad and cornbread to my meal. But it didn’t matter what I ordered, it was always lip-smacking good.

When Luby’s celebrated its 60th anniversary, two books were published to commemorate the occasion. First there was Luby’s Recipes and Memories Cookbook, which has many of its recipes, from lime congeal to the very popular fried fish. It’s now out of print, but (very expensive!) used copies can be found.

There was also a book from the University of Texas Press called House of Plenty: The Rise, Fall, and Revival of Luby’s Cafeterias. This fascinating look at Luby’s is one-part business primer, one-part Texana, one-part food history with a little bit of true crime to keep it spicy.

It’s scintillating reading even if you’ve never been to a cafeteria. Not only do you learn how to treat your staff, you’re also made privy to Luby’s recipes (reprinted as they were originally typed) and discover why Texas allows concealed weapons.

Of course, all this reading doesn’t beat the real deal—making a trip to the local Luby’s—but it satisfied my yearning just enough until the next trip home.

Luby's liver and onions | Homesick Texan

I leave you with Luby’s recipe for liver and onions, my old badge of youthful insurgency. You may be asking, “Why not the fried fish? Everyone loves those perfect rectangles of crunchy, moist, flaky fish!” to which I reply: when was the last time you saw a recipe for fried liver on a blog?

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Print
5 from 5 votes

Luby’s liver and onions

Course Main Course
Cuisine Southern, Texan
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings 4
Author Adapted by Lisa Fain from Luby's

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds beef liver, cut into 4 steaks
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Instructions

  • Place the liver in a mixing bowl. Cover with water and let it soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • In a large cast-iron skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, while stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned. Remove from the skillet and season to taste with salt.
  • In a shallow bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs until well blended. Place the bread crumbs on a plate.
  • Rinse the liver under cool running water and then pat dry with paper towels. Lightly season each side with salt and pepper. Dip into the milk mixture, then into the bread crumbs, coating evenly.
  • Pour the oil into the skillet that you used for the onions, and turn the heat to medium heat.
  • After the oil has heated, add the liver and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Top with the onions.

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67 Comments

  1. I love Luby's liver and onions! I order them topped with cream gravy and then slather on A-1 steak sauce. The tanginess of the sauce is an awesome complement to the creamy gravy and savory onions. Yum! I love to order it on the LuAnn platter with mac and cheese and cooked spinach (with butter or margarine). We still have Luby's in Corpus Christi, y'all! So come on over! 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    I grew up in El Paso and we made the trip at least once a week to eat at a cafeteria. I liked Furrs the best but was thrilled to go to any cafeteria. I went back and forth between the Chicken & Dumplings and Turkey and Dressing. My little brother always got liver and onions and I always had to have a bite of his. Always chocolate pie for dessert. And sweet tea.

    We used to walk to Whataburger and I remember a DerWienerschnitzel too, though hot dogs weren't my favorite. I love reliving those days through your blog!
    Lana in WI

  3. Yeah– shed a tear for what Luby's used to be. Now it is more like a military chow hall in food quality and atmosphere. I don't go there any more. I wish the old Luby's could return. It had no competition

  4. Anonymous says:

    The Luby's on 67 & Cockrell Hill in Dallas has the best tasting food in Dfw. The others are not that good. I remember going to Wyatt's cafeteria as a kid, only on Sundays. Good times!!!!

  5. Karen Diaz says:

    A co-worker gave my ABQ son some frozen calf’s liver and he asked me how to prepare it. Of course, the ONLY way to prepare liver and onions is ala Luby’s. I looked online for Luby’s Liver and Onions and to my great satisfaction, I see your recipe. You never fail me!! Your iteration of LuAnn Liver will be gracing an ABQ table this weekend!

    1. Lisa Fain says:

      Karen–Delighted to assist with y’all’s recreation of a LuAnn platter!