Food & Drink

Make Your Own Livermush

Makes 4 loaves

A North Carolina treat that’s a lot tastier than it sounds

Photo: Lucy Cuneo

At Garden & Gun, we love livermush. Okay, not all of us. When we cooked a batch at the office a while back, some of the editors were less than enthusiastic about the name. But those who were brave enough to sample the North Carolina treat realized that it’s actually a lot tastier than its unappetizing moniker implies. That’s why we included livermush in our April/May issue, on our list of fifty reasons to love the South now.

In that article, we mentioned that chef Clark Barlowe serves scratch-made livermush at Heirloom restaurant in Charlotte. A native of Lenoir, North Carolina, the chef has eaten the regional staple for as long as he can remember. “I don’t know many other five-year-old kids whose favorite food is livermush,” he says. “Always on a biscuit, and always with mustard.” The recipe he uses at the restaurant today comes from his great-grandmother, whose family had already lived in rural Caldwell County for four or five generations before she stepped into the kitchen. It’s dead simple if you have a meat grinder or food processor at your disposal. Enjoy the finished product on a warm biscuit with grape jelly or mustard, and ask your friends and family to try it for themselves before they get nervous about the name.

“It doesn’t sound appetizing,” Barlowe says, “but it’s funny: When we put it on the menu, even though we’re a white-tablecloth restaurant, we sell out every time. People come in for a fine-dining menu, but when they see livermush, they’re like, I’ve got to have that!


    • 1 pork liver

    • 2 1/2 lb. pork shoulder

    • 1 1/4 cup chopped sage

    • 4 tbsp. kosher salt

    • 1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. black pepper

    • 1 1/2 cup cornmeal

    • 1 1/2 cup white flour


  1. Trim the liver, removing the thin membrane, and rinse it. Trim the pork butt. Cut both into ½-inch cubes. Cover them with water in a large pot, and bring the water to a boil. Then reduce it to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook until meat is tender, 2 ½ to 3 hours. Let the water cool slightly and then remove the meat, reserving the cooking water.

  2. Grind the meat and return it to the pot with the water. Add salt, pepper, and sage, and return the pot to a boil. When the water boils, gradually add the cornmeal and flour. Stir until thick, and then pour the mixture into loaf pans. Leave it at room temperature for twenty minutes, and then cover it and transfer it to the refrigerator, where it should continue to cool and set for several hours—ideally, overnight.

  3. To serve, sauté slices in butter until browned and crisp.

  4. To freeze, separate individual slices with freezer paper and seal them in a zip-up bag.

Recipe from Clark Barlowe of Heirloom in Charlotte, North Carolina