This post was published to Canadianfoodiegirl.com, on May 28, 2015
Liver is one of those things I can take or leave. As an Ashkenazi Jew, I grew up eating chopped liver (the best analogy is that it's like pate). Chicken livers tasted better to me than cow. I also know that liver is nutrient-dense. In doing a quick Google search for this article I came across this article called Liver: nature’s most potent superfood on Chris Kresser's website (April 2008):
A popular objection to eating liver is the belief that the liver is a storage organ for toxins in the body. While it is true that one of the liver’s role is to neutralize toxins (such as drugs, chemical agents and poisons), it does not store these toxins. Toxins the body cannot eliminate are likely to accumulate in the body’s fatty tissues and nervous systems. On the other hand, the liver is a is a storage organ for many important nutrients (vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folic acid, and minerals such as copper and iron). These nutrients provide the body with some of the tools it needs to get rid of toxins.
I'm a fan of Kresser. He's one of those experts whose stuff I read closely. He makes sense.
Liver nutrients – warning, could provide super powers
Vitamins A, B…
Beef liver is a rich source of vitamin A. A 3-ounce (85 gram) serving contains 26,957 international units, or almost 700% of your recommended daily allowance. This makes liver a huge benefit for your eyes, skin and immune system. 3 ounces supplies more than half of your recommended daily allowance of vitamins B-6 and B-12. Vitamin B-6 helps produce serotonin, which regulates moods and your sleep cycle, and vitamin B-12 is essential for nerves and red blood cells. (Learn more about the mood-food connection with The Anxiety Summit)
A 3-ounce serving provides 31% of women's and 70% of men's recommended daily allowance.
Iron in red blood cells helps carry oxygen throughout your body. You've heard of people who become anemic because they don't get enough iron in their diet? Furthermore, Iron supports metabolism and immune system.
Liver is a rich source of zinc, with one serving supplying 56% of women's and 41% of men's recommended daily allowance. Zinc is also essential for a healthy immune system and it helps regulate DNA. With three immune system boosters (Vitamin A, iron, zinc), liver might give you super powers!
With three immune system boosters (Vitamin A, iron, zinc), liver might give you super powers!
Those are just some of the nutrients.
All that, and it's practically free
Liver is also an organ meat that tends to be inexpensive.
Last week I suddenly decided that I wanted to make liver (for, like, the second time ever) and picked some up my local Asian market. I pulled out the package and removed the label for a photo. It ripped, but the important information is there. It was beef liver.
$4.29/kg, 0.446 kg (15 oz, or a little under 1 pound) in the package. The cost of 15 ounces of liver: $1.91. I figured that even if it ended up as an impulse buy and I didn't use it, it was under $2 (Canadian currency, which is currently exchanging at 1.3% US).
The nutrition info above is from the LiveStrong website based on 3 ounces. I ate about half of the finished product for dinner last night and another third for lunch today. There are a couple of slices left.
The recipe inspiration
I didn't use one recipe. I looked at a bunch of recipes. I've heard my man say several times that soaking liver in cream removes that strong taste that people hate. A few websites I looked at mentioned soaking in lemon juice. I decided to try lemon juice.
I didn't take any photos of the process (what was I thinking? Oh right, it was just dinner) but I'm happy to share the recipe:
Liver with bacon, onions, and garlic
- 1/2 lemon
- Liver (I used 15 oz)
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 shallot, sliced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped (or sliced)
- 5 slices bacon
- Juice half a lemon.
- Soak a chunk of liver in it, 8 hours or more. (I started at night for the next evening and used a glass container)
When you're ready…
- Slice the liver. You want pieces.
- Crisp the bacon in a cast iron skillet (any big pan will do)
- When the bacon is mostly cooked to your liking, add the onions, shallots and garlic.
- Add seasonings. I used paprika + Italian blend
- Push the onions etc to the side of your skillet and sear the liver slices on each side (for one minute or so – watch it).
- Once the meat is seared on both sides, pile the mixture on top of the liver, turn the heat down to medium and let the meat cook through for 5-10 minutes.
- You're done!
I actually cooked the bacon the previous evening because my supply of bacon grease was running low. I cooked the onions, shallots and garlic in bacon grease and ghee, added the bacon to the pan to heat it up, then added the liver. The recipe that mostly served as my inspiration when it was time to cook the liver was this one, referred to as “The Best Liver Ever”. How could I not try a liver recipe with that superlative?
I really liked the lemony flavour. The leftovers I had for lunch the next day, cold, weren't as good. That tasted more like the way that liver tastes when you don't like liver, It wasn't bad but it had a stronger flavour.
Still not convinced?
If you don't like liver remember this:
- There's not much that's NOT good with onions and garlic.
- Bacon is “duct tape for food”.
- Ingredients are super cheap. I probably spent under $5 for all the ingredients, divided by 2-3 meals. If you make it, don't like it and throw it out, you don't have to feel guilty about the money spent, only a bit of food waste. The price alone might make you convince yourself to like liver.
- And finally, there are several websites that advise liver haters who want the nutritional benefits to cut up liver into tiny bits, freezing them, and swalling them whole like pills.
If you still don't like it, you can always try it with fava beans and a nice chianti.