Saturday, March 7, 2009

March Challenge: Love Your Liver!

In difficult economic times it can seem easiest to let go of expensive food choices. If you are like me, budget constraints have you eating less meat. However, our bodies still need those good animal proteins. One solution, is to eat "less desirable" cuts and meats. Low on most people's preferred list is liver (and all organ meats). I think the apprehension has more to do with texture than taste, but it can be done! You too can learn to love your liver.

This is what Sally Fallon has to say about organ meats in the introduction to her chapter on it in Nourishing Traditions:

"Organ meats are extremely rich in fat-soluble vitamins A and D, as well as essential fatty acids, important very-long-chain superunsaturated fatty acids and the whole gamut of macro and trace minerals. Wild animals eat the organ meats of their kill first, thus showing a wisdom superior to our own"

Liver provides "copper, zinc, iron and vitamins A and D in abundance, but it is also a rich source of antioxidants - substances that help your own liver remove toxic substances from the body."

This month's challenge will come in various levels.

Challenge Level One:
For those to whom eating liver would really be a nightmare, I challenge you to purchase a high-quality cod-liver oil so that your body can at least begin to have the benefit of liver without directly eating it. All cod-liver oil is NOT created equal. The Weston A Price Foundation has approved the following sources:

"As of June 2007, we recommend the following brands of cod liver oil:

In Stores: Garden of Life, regular dose cod liver oil; Nordic Naturals Vitamin D Cod Liver Oil (not Nordic Naturals Regular Cod Liver Oil)

Online/Mail Order:

I personally buy from Radiant Life, as I think they have the best price.

Challenge Level Two:
Slip some liver, or other organ meat, into something you already eat. Finely chop some liver into gravies or sauces to accompany other meats. Mix some chopped liver into ground meat dishes.
Finely grate several tbsp liver (this works best if frozen) into rice while it cooks. Make a savory pate. Get creative and hide it somewhere.

Challenge Level Three:
Eat Liver as a main course! My own goal is to do this at least once this month, and hope to move my family towards eating liver as a meal once a week.

Some tips for preparation (also from Nourishing Traditions):

"Buy liver that is organic and very fresh. The butcher should remove the surrounding filament; otherwise the edges will curl when it is cooked. Liver should be sliced about 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch thick. All liver recipes will be greatly improved if the liver slices are first soaked in lemon juice for several hours. This draws out impurities and gives a nicer texture"

Some recipe ideas (also from N.T. - Have I strongly recommended this book yet?)
(serving 4)
1 1/2 pounds liver slices
juice of 2-3 lemons
1 cup unbleached flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper to dredge liver in
4 tbsp clarified butter or lard
4 cups finely sliced onions
2 tbsp butter + 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Marinate liver slices in lemon juice for several hours. Pat dry and dredge in flour mixture. Saute over high heat in a heavy skillet in the clarified butter or lard. Transfer to a plate and keep warm in oven. In a separate pan, saute onions in butter and oil over medium for 30 minutes until brown. Strew over liver and serve!

Alternately, saute a pound of fresh mushrooms to go atop the liver in stead of the onions.

Or, follow as before, but saute only until liver is just stiffening, then remove and brush with a mixture of Dijon, chopped shallots, parsley, and garlic, then dredge again through bread crumbs and place on oiled broiler pan, dribble with butter and broil 1-2 minutes, turn over, dribble more butter, broil again and serve.

Or, keep liver and onions warm in the oven, pour out the browning fat from the liver pan and add 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar + 4 cups beef stock. Bring to a boil and reduce by half. Add an arrowroot/water mixture tbsp by tbsp until desired thickness is reached.

Traditional cookbooks are a great source of other organ meat recipes, as are old American cookbooks. Liver used to be normal fare.

There is your challenge for the month! Please report back and share any recipes you love.

3 comments:

  1. Woo hoo! I'll post my favorite recipe (one that has converted non-liver lovers) later this week.

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  2. I know I'm the odd-woman out; I LOVE liver. My mother would just pan-fry it in onions and serve it just like any other meat (with potatoes and a few different kinds of vegetables, most likely). Nate doesn't care for it, but he'll eat it if I make it. Here's to Loving Liver!

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  3. Sarah - Thanks for your recipe!

    Maria - Sometimes odd is a good thing =) I actually don't really know that I don't like liver. I've only tasted it as a dish in itself once (a bite of a friend's dish at a restaurant). I think our butchered cow comes this week and then I'll have some good fresh liver to work with! Wish me luck! P.S. If you post any thing on your liver recipes (hey, liver is frugal) I will link to it from here.

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Questions and Comments welcome! If you would prefer to contact me privately, please email mariannescrivner (at) gmail (dot) com.

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