Well this is a fist for Free the Animal: two posts on beef liver back-to-back.
But why not? The last post still has a good amount of comment enthusiasm going for it, and I’d break it down into those who love liver and have their ways of doing it—from raw to well done—those who just can’t stand it, and those in the same boat but who’d love to love liver. It’s primarily that latter group that this post is for.
One thing that seems pretty clear is that many who grew up eating it—such as both my wife and I—tend to really like the distinctive taste of it. But here’s one thing I found out yesterday. Someone had commented on that first post, that she loves her leftover liver cold. It made sense to me. I recall when in high school my mom decided to do a beef tongue and frankly, when it was served I didn’t care for it at all, primarily on the level of texture. I think I called it “meat jello” at the time. The next day, she took some out of the fridge and sliced it up to make sandwiches and voilà, I loved it. Cold, it took on a completely different texture and as a consequence, flavor.
So yesterday around noon or so I pulled the leftovers out of the fridge and dug right in, about 6-8 ounces worth. I couldn’t stop eating it down. Frankly, it was far better than Sunday night’s dinner served warm. And, it had the consistency of a pâté. So I was inspired. Googled around and found this recipe from a New Zealand farmer, courtesy of Michael Allen Smith of Critical MAS. Headed off to market, got my stuff and got to work. Here’s the recipe:
500g beef liver (you can substitute lamb’s fry), cut into pieces
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup red wine
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
- Saute the liver and onions in a couple of tablespoons of the butter until the livers are browned and the onions are tender.
- Add wine, garlic, mustard, herbs and lemon juice and cook uncovered until most of the liquid has gone.
- Cool and blend to a smooth paste in the food processor along with the rest of the butter. (This is easier if the butter is not fridge cold!)
- Add salt to taste.
- Check the consistency of the pate. If it seems dry and crumbly rather than smooth and creamy, add more butter.
- Put pâté in a shallow dish and press the cracked pepper onto the top of it.
So here’s what I did differently:
- I used 1 pound of beef liver (close to the 500g called for) and 1/2 pound of chicken liver.
- Upped the amount of red wine proportionally and doubled the lemon juice (an entire lemon).
- Added 1/2 cup of tart fresh cranberries.
- Added 2 crimini mushrooms (sautéed with the liver & onions).
- Added a small can of chopped black olives (added about half way through the sauté)
- As a first step, chopped up two thick strips of bacon, fried it, removed the bits, then added 2 tablespoons of butter to the bacon fat for the sauté. Reintroduced the bacon bits at the end, for the cool-down phase.
- Used a bit more Kerrygold butter (2 tbsp for the cooking and about 9 for the mixing).
- Didn’t have fresh herbs, so I used 1/2 tsp each for the rosemary and thyme.
Click for the hi-res. This was breakfast this morning. Looks to be about 4 ounces, so it’s the rough equivalent of 5 pounds of fruit in terms of nutrition.
As you can see, I prefer to use the freshly cracked black pepper at the time of serving rather than coat the top while in the serving or storage dish.
How was it? Marvelous. I really enjoy the slight tartness from the lemon and cranberries. The butter made the consistency when chilled absolutely perfect and spreadable.
I would love to see people eating more animal livers of all sorts. The nutritional density is unparalleled. And hey, there’s various ways to get it if you don’t like it fried up. …And various pâté preparations or “wurst” are the way to go. Many are available in stores, artisan markets or online if you search around (see this liverwurst from US Wellness Meats), but making your own offers you the opportunity to experiment until you get it to where you love it. For instance, how about doubling up on the fruit? Cherries or blueberries would be good options, too. Or, more herbs & spices, and of various sorts. Sky’s the limit.
And here’s why. …Now, not to go all woo on you, but Sunday I was suffering horribly from that cold and decided to get high nutrition via that liver dinner. I woke up Monday just fine and have been fine since. Maybe the high doses of vitamin D I was taking finally caught up, maybe it was both, or maybe it was only a 2 1/2-day cold—but colds usually last for about a week. Oh, well, who knows for sure? The other things I’ve noted are an intense sense of well being and total satiation after eating liver. Monday, for example, I wasn’t hungry to eat anything until the early afternoon. And after that cold liver breakfast at noon yesterday, I simply wasn’t hungry for much dinner at all and could have easily skipped.
Could it be that appetite regulation and satiation are highly influenced by the nutritional density of food? Everyone focusses on blood sugar, insulin and leptin. But doesn’t it make sense that if your body is well fed with all the nutrients you ought to be getting—in important quantities in Whole Real Foods rather than a bunch of pills—that you’re really addressing the fundamental foundation of appetite, hunger, cravings and satiation? What’s the potential that hormonal dysregulation, leading to dysregulatioin in normal appetite and hunger is more of a downstream effect of what could perhaps be described as “sub-clinical malnutrition”?
And to take it a step further, if you’re properly nourished rather than malnourished (even on an otherwise paleo diet), how might that effect body composition over time? Speculating, but if one was completely tanked up to the fill line on every nutrient the body needs and wants, might it be more willing to give up the fat stores?
What say you?