Nope…It’s not Chocolate Ice Cream. It’s Liver…ah, Liver.
Let’s be honest folks, liver is an acquired taste–maybe the quintessential acquired taste. I don’t think I can ever recall a hungry person someone saying to me “You know what sounds so good right now…LIVER”. Nope, never heard it…suspect I never will. But, while it may not be on your North American, Western palate of “Top 5 Favorite Foods,” it is without a doubt the most nutritious food in the world— it is so deeply nourishing that it can empower your body to deal with or prevent a host of ailments. Because of that I would love to help inspire alternate ways for liver consumption in your life.
So what if I could help you find a way to get the world’s most nutrient dense food in you without any objections from your tongue? HA! You may be thinking. No objections from my palate…yeah right. I was thinking the same thing after my last miserable attempt at preparing liver and had decided to write off this superfood once and for all. Problem is I am a victim of my own knowledge. I wish I could pretend I didn’t know how healthy liver is, or that my body didn’t need the nutrients so densely pack in the confines of this organ, that this delicacy seems to help when other dietary changes have failed, but I can’t. My “no-more-liver” stance came to an end last week when I heard that one of my food heroes (Monica Corrado – Real Food chef and holistic nutrition educator) was teaching a class on liver. If anyone could help me redeem liver it was her. Fingers crossed and nose plugged, I decided to give it one more try. Stay with me folks; it’s time to bring out the sauté pan and your…juicer. What?
If I haven’t already “misplaced” you at sauté pan, keep reading. I must admit pan sautéed liver is my LEAST favorite way to eat nature’s most nutrient dense food. But, much to my delight there are options besides pan sautéed. Now first, the most important thing, I must compel you to want to eat liver. Be brave…keep reading.
There was much wisdom to a traditional family weekly meal of liver and onions. Most every time I have a conversation about liver with someone, they grimace, and recall some distant memory of “grandma” or “mama” or someone of the sorts making them consume it on a weekly basis…that certainly was not the case with me, and I almost wish it was. I think perhaps I would like it more than I do if I had the nostalgia of a Sunday night hallmark special with this pungent dish. After the grimace and a story about the last time someone ate liver, I sometimes get the response that liver must be toxic, because it is a “detoxifying organ”. Good thought, thankfully the liver does not hold onto the toxins it filters, rather it is the fat tissue around the liver that performs this function.
What Makes it So Nutritious?
Similar to sucking spoonfuls of fermented cod liver oil, or hastily gulping water and super greens powder, the reason I eat liver is simple: it is exceptionally good for me, and I am convicted about being the best steward of my body as I can be. How healthy is liver? Check out the chart from the World’s Healthiest Foods and noticed the Daily Values of each nutrient. I challenge you to find anything that even comes close!
It’s a little hard to read, but yes in 4oz of liver you would get 689% of your daily minimum requirement of B12 (hello vegetarians!), 609% of Vitamin A, 215% of folate (hello pregnant and post baby mamas!)…you get the point. The stuff is loaded, but that isn’t even all of the good news.
No, the good news is that you will never need to sit down and consume 4oz of liver at once. This stuff is so nutrient dense, you only need to eat a tiny bit at a time. If you’re an athlete looking for sources of quality protein, it doesn’t get better than this. Liver is nature’s most concentrated source of vitamin A, it contains all of the B’s, folic acid and contains highly usable form of iron. It is a perfect post work out snack, it is high in CoQ10—an anti-fatigue factor and a nutrient that greatly benefits cardio-vascular function. Want to find out more? Check out The Liver Files on www.westonaprice.org where you can see research done on the many benefits of consuming this amazingly rich food, as well as get inspired with recipes.
How to Prepare It
As I mentioned above, to get inspired I went to a liver class by Monica Corrado of simplybeingwell.com. She started the class by pulling a chunk of calves liver out of the freezer, cutting it into small ¼ inch cubes and offered us to just shoot it…Liver Shooter. Yes. That is me swallowing whole chunks of frozen calf’s liver. I must say, it was pretty painless (thanks Monica!) I see myself doing this on a regular basis! The only issue with this method would be taking the time to dissect our frozen livers into cubes and figuring out a way to place them back in the freezer with out them all melding together in one big clump again…Anyone have any suggestions? This idea basically leaves you with the most natural and least processed multi vitamin on the planet! No chewing, no aftertaste, no problem. Just make sure you keep fresh liver frozen it for at least two weeks before eating it.
My second favorite way to consume liver that I learned from this class is with a liver tonic. This recipe is straight out of Nourishing Traditions Cookbook (on sale in our studio). I have turned the page past this recipe several times, and never mustered up the courage to try it—until now. You can also view the recipe on the liver files, link above)
Page 612, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
Pottenger Liver Tonic
1 small chunk pasture fed beef or lamb liver frozen for at least 14 days
4-6 oz tomato juice
Dash of Tabasco
Squeeze of lime juice
1 TBS whey – let me know if you need me to teach you how to make this.
Here’s how you make it:
- Grate the liver finely to obtain about 1-2 teaspoons.
- Mix with tomato juice, lime juice, whey and seasonings (to taste)
- Drink immediately.
I gotta tell ya folks, I could have sworn this would never happen…but I went back for seconds.
Here’s the best part: This juice would be something you could serve the most unsuspecting child (or husband) and they would NEVER know that they were getting a dose of something so good. The small ground up liver reminded me of pulp, if it was even noticeable at all…helping me forget I was actually drinking raw liver!
The cook book has a similar recipe on the same page using freshly squeezed orange juice instead of tomato. I’m looking forward to trying it!
Also in Monica’s class, we made “dirty rice” and a pretty decent pate, the latter I have since made for my family (first picture above) with much success using almost as much butter as I use liver . In her class I also tried really really hard to enjoy her breaded and pan fried calves liver (soaked over night in lemon juice to take the edge off) but alas I just could not. I snuck into the kitchen trying to avoid Monica seeing the chunks of liver on my plate headed for the garbage disposal, but she caught me, and with one swoop, grabbed the liver off my plate, put it in her own mouth exclaiming “delicious” and proceeded to lightly scold me for wasting such perfect food! I bowed my head shamefully. I am still the padawan and she is the Jedi. If a gourmet-seasoned chef couldn’t get me to eat the stuff…perhaps I should stick to one of the other options.
That said, 4 successful attempts out of 5 at making liver palatable, I’ll take it! I was only hoping for 1. For now I’m sticking with liver 1) in a frozen “multivitamin,” 2) in juice, 3) grated in rice and 4) pureed into a pate with a boatload of butter, these dishes will be gracing our dinner table at least once a month. Tell me, are you inspired?