Canine Kitchen: Crunchy BBQ Liver Dog Treats (wheat-free)

Well you must have known this was coming sooner or later!

As I mentioned in this post about Hudson's adoption, I've been making all of his food at home from scratch. I also have been making him homemade doggy treats, and decided to share this recipe for my Crunchy BBQ Liver Dog Treats with you.

He absolutely LOVES these treats and can sniff them out anywhere. I brought a few of them in my purse to my parents' house this weekend for my dad's birthday, and Hudson kept trying to attack the purse in an attempt to get his treat!

The recipe for these is very loosely inspired by Thomas Keller's Fois Gras Dog Treat recipe from the Bouchon Bakery cookbook. They're the treats that Keller sells at his bakeries and at The French Laundry. My amazing friend Lindsay sent me the recipe via email last week and I instantly knew I wanted to give it a try, with a few significant changes

Hudson is on a wheat-free diet, so I changed the original recipe around quite a bit, replacing the white flour with good, wholesome ingredients like oats, flaxseed, sweet potato, and organic gmo-free cornmeal. (Wheat isn't really the best for dogs, and for shih tzus in particular, avoiding it helps keep their eyes clear and without too much discharge.)

I also used calf liver for my treats and halved the amount of bacon in them, although you can really use just about any kind of liver--chicken, beef, and yes--even fois gras should you feel spendy. Keller's treats are mostly grain, but I wanted mine to be primarily protein so I changed the ratio and added eggs to hold everything together.

The treats bake up into crisp little cookies with a great meaty smell.

Eugene, a huge fan of liver, actually tried one of the treats and said they were "Like a nice cracker with a liver flavor." (I did not try them, so I'll just take his word for it.)

Keller's tops off his treats with a ketchup glaze, but Hudson loves smokey flavors, so I used a simple bbq sauce instead, which I think works really well.

This recipe makes a huge batch, and the treats keep well at dry, room temperature for about 4-6 weeks, so it's a great way to stock up on wholesome homemade goodies.

As you can see, Hudson is a happy doggy!

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Crunchy BBQ Liver Dog Treats (Wheat-Free)
Makes about 40 2-inch treats

1/2 pound bacon
1 pound liver (such as calf liver, chicken liver, beef liver, etc.)
1 cup cooked mashed sweet potato puree (substitute carrot, pumpkin, or butternut squash)
1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 cup coarsely ground cornmeal (preferably organic/gmo-free)
1/2 cup flaxseeds
1/2 cup chicken broth (salt-free or low sodium; you can also use water)
2 large eggs + 1 egg, divided
1/4 cup bbq sauce (use a non-spicy variety)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silpat and set aside. Arrange 2 baking racks in middle of oven.

Cook the bacon on a skillet over medium heat until the fat is rendered and bacon is a bit crisp. Remove from skillet and transfer to food processor. Drain all but a thin layer of fat and add the liver pieces, cooking them in batches about 2 minutes on each side, until cooked completely through (will be stiffer and shrunken a bit). Add the cooked pieces of liver to the food processor and puree into a paste. Add the oats, flaxseeds and cornmeal and puree again into a thick dough.

Transfer to a mixing bowl or stand-up mixer, and add the sweet potatoes, chicken broth, eggs and egg yolk (reserve the 3rd white). Mix well until a thick, sticky dough forms and gathers into a ball. If too wet, add a bit more ground cornmeal until you reach the right consistency.

Sprinkle cornmeal over your work surface and turn out the dough. Using a cornmeal dusted rolling pin, roll out the dough until it's about 1/2" thick. Use 2" round cookie cutters dusted in cornmeal to cut out circles, and transfer them to the prepared cookie sheets (they can be placed close together). Re-roll out any remaining dough and repeat until all dough is used.

*No cookie cutter or just want a quicker way? You can also just cut the dough into 2" squares with a knife or pizza cutter.

Place in oven and bake until dry and crunchy--3 hours for regular oven or 1 1/2 hours for a convection oven. (Check about 20 minutes before end of time to make sure they're not burning.)

Remove from oven and lower heat to 200 degrees.
Whisk together the remaining egg white and the bbq sauce. Brush on the still-warm treats and then return to the oven for another 40 minutes for regular ovens or 20 minutes for convection ovens to allow the glaze to set.

Store completely cooled treats in an air-tight container for up to 6 weeks.

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