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Old Timey Dutch Fork Liver Nips

This recipe was common in the old families of Lexington County, S. C.; and you will not find these being cooked anywhere else in the USA! That county was originally populated with Swiss Germans in the 1700s. Americans will rarely if ever find liver nips on a menu anywhere else than the "Dutch Fork" counties in central South Carolina. Liver nips are flour based, dropped, liver stuffed dumplings. Among those who are in the know, the real test is to be able to cook them so that they are not "tight". A greater proportion of flour than other contents makes the dumplings "tight"; less proportion of flour makes non-tight dumplings.


  • One pound beef liver (we buy at local Caughman's Meat Plant, Lexington Co., S. C.)
  • Three pounds shoulder roast (bone in)
  • three eggs (beaten)
  • salt and black pepper (to taste)
  • one tablespoon crushed sweet basil
  • one tablespoon sage
  • four (4) cups all-purpose flour
  • one large onion diced fine
  • one large HOT green pepper diced fine
  • one can beef broth

PREPARATION: You will make dumplings ("nips") and drop them into the boiling broth.

  • Meat component:
    • cook roast in enough water to make two quarts of broth still in the roasting pan, and then add that can of beef broth to the whole of broth and reserve.
    • remove all veins and membranes from liver by scraping the liver meat with a knife, saving the scrapings in a bowl (discard veins and membranes)
    • After roast is cooked done, cool and FINELY chop about one and a half cups worth of roast meat.
  • Dough component:
    • Sift flour into a large bowl.
  • Create raw "nips" (dumplings) reserve:
    • Add to the above flour bowl the scraped liver, eggs, salt, hot pepper, black pepper, sweet basil, sage, onion, and the cut up roast (this meat will retard the dough from getting sure that you use enough meat). Mix all of the above together to form a stiff dough (add water as needed to get the dough to the proper stiffness).
  • Create the boiling broth liquid:
    • Separate any solid contents out of the roasting pan liquid, add water and the can of beef broth to a total liquid amount of about 2 and a half quarts and bring that liquid to a boil.
  • Dumpling ("nips") dropping stage:
    • From the dough bowl, use your finger or another spoon and drop the dough as dumpling blobs three fourths of a teaspoon in size into the boiling liquid and keeping the boil going. RESERVE ABOUT A CUP OF DOUGH. When all dumplings are in the broth, cut the heat down and let cook on low for about thirty (30) minutes.
  • Broth thickening:
    • In the meantime, add some water into the reserved dough in the mixing bowl and stir. Then adding this watered down dough a little at a time into the nips-containing broth, stir to thicken the broth. And cook on lowest heat another ten to fifteen minutes.

COMMENTS: In old Lexington County, S. C., liver nips were a great companion to "mixed bread" (bread made with a mix of flour and grits). On 22 Feb. 2018, we found out that every Thursday for lunch (until 3PM) days at Shealy's In Leesville, S. C. (cooked by Nancy Harmon...they plan to go year around if the demand holds up). There is no other source that I know of in the USA! The only other two places had been (1) The Farmer's Shed west of the town of Lexington, S. C. on #1 highway just beyond Lexington High School (closed in 2017), and (2) The Backporch in Prosperity (in Newberry County), S. C. (which closed in early 2017).

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[posted 15 February 2015; adjusted 22 February 2018]