Jun 1, 2010

A Yummy Liver Recipe....Really

Organ meats have virtually disappeared from our diets only very recently. When talking to my parents and in-laws I found they were all accustomed to eating organ meats as children. Both my mother and my mother-in-law told me they enjoyed “eggs and brains” for breakfast, my father-in-law said rocky mountain oysters were a favorite for his dad. My dad had tongue and heart on the farm and they all remembered eating liver regularly until worries over cholesterol caused people to abandon this traditional nutrient-dense food.

Dr. Weston Price found that organ meats were highly valued in healthy traditional societies. The high level of nutrients in organ meats allowed people living in areas such as the Arctic to be very healthy with very little plant food in their diets. It is interesting to note that predatory animals know instinctively to consume the organ meats of their prey first.

Organ meats are packed with nutrients including vitamin C, heavy doses of B vitamins such as: B1, B2, B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, and with minerals like phosphorus, iron, copper, magnesium and iodine. Organ meats provide the important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. While vitamin D deficiency runs rampant in America, most people continue to ignore organ meats which have some of the highest concentrations of naturally occurring vitamin D of any food source. While it is fairly common knowledge that essential fatty acids can be obtained from fish oil, it is much less known that organ meats from grass-fed animals contain high amounts of the essential fatty acids such as arachidonic acid, and omega-3 fats.

I recently purchased a whole lamb and asked that the organ meats be included. I was thinking of the liver and the heart, but when I received my lamb I found that the kidneys and the fries were included also. I have to admit that I have no experience with kidneys or fries. I showed the fries to my family and said, "These are labeled 'lamb fries.' They look like ….umm...you know, but I need to check the internet to make sure." There were immediate protests from my children that I had gone too far and there was no way they were going to eat those. But my husband just grinned and said, “Your mother will put them in something and you’ll never even know you ate them.”

While you may not be quite ready to tackle lamb fries, the following recipe for hamburgers which incorporates liver may be a way you can sneak some liver into your family. My family loves this recipe. While Nourishing Traditions does recommend incorporating organ meats into ground meat dishes, I have some concern that the liver may end up being overly cooked, destroying some of the nutrients, when doing so. Keeping in mind that Dr. Price found healthy traditional societies eating raw as well as cooked liver, I would encourage you to experiment with other recipes for liver in which the liver is cooked low and left rare. When I’ve had liver that I didn’t like, it was overcooked, rubbery, and quite “liver tasting.” Proper marinating in lemon juice and minimum cooking makes for tender good-tasting liver.

A recipe for liver pate that you also might want to try is here.

Preparing Liver for any liver recipe:

Proper preparation of liver before cooking is very important for a successful dish. Start with a piece of fresh liver from a grass-fed animal.

Rinse the liver then trim the tough membrane from the edges.
Chickens love this trim.
I cut this liver into smaller pieces because I'm going to grind it up. I also used a meat tenderizer on it. Both of these steps are optional.

Next marinate the liver in lemon juice for several hours. Nourishing Traditions says that this draws out the impurities and gives a nicer texture. I usually need to add some water to get enough juice to cover the liver. This time I used juice from my lacto-fermented lemons.

After marinating, your liver is ready for whatever recipe you plan to make. For the recipe below, I need ground liver, so I drained the lemon juice and ground the liver in batches in my Vitamix.

I only need 1/4 pound for the recipe below, so I divided the ground meat into four portions and frozen three of them for another time. (The FDA might not like that I refroze meat that had already been frozen once, so please don't tell them, and refreeze your own liver at your own risk.)

Ground Beef and Liver Hamburgers

1 pound ground grass-fed beef, beefalo, or buffalo
1/4 pound ground liver (marinated in lemon juice)
1 pastured egg or 2 egg whites (I usually use egg whites from the yolks that we use raw in our smoothies - once again the FDA would frown.)
1 and 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder (or some fresh crushed garlic)
1 and 1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4- 1/2 finely chopped onion
1 tsp. liquid smoke
sprinkle of cayenne pepper (optional)

Knead all the ingredients together in a bowl. (I don't know a more efficient way to do this than with your hands.)

Form into patties. I cooked these with lard (from a pastured hog) in my cast iron skillet. Sometimes I use coconut ghee or coconut oil.

Here's the finished hamburger. This one is on a homemade sprouted wheat seasame seed bun. It has homemade lacto-fermented mayo, homemade lacto-fermented ketchup, mustard, onions, lettuce and tomatoe. There is also a homemade lacto-ferment dill pickle on the side. Although it looks like its sitting on the table, its actually on a clear glass plate. Just in case you were worried that we eat off the table at my house.

And this is Real Food for Real Food Wednesdays.

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  1. Yesterday I was trying to think of ways to add liver to our food without my hubby knowing. This looks perfect! Thanks for sharing this recipe. I can't wait to try it =)

  2. wow! First time here. I read this post and subscribed right away to learn of new posts :) Love new ways to get that grass-fed liver into my family. Will give this a try.

    I do have a couple questions first:
    1. is liquid smoke safe? (not even sure what is in it to be honest, but I thought I'd read something about it, just can't recall.)
    2. Your homemade sprouted wheat seasame seed bun looks awesome! Have you shared the recipe? Or can you tell me where you got the recipe from?


  3. Good questions, Tammy. The best I can tell from my research is that liquid smoke is okay. If you find something to the contrary, please let me know. I have recently tried smoked salt (salish) for making freshside bacon, which has been awesome. In the future, I will probably use smoked salt in this recipe as well and leave out the liquid smoke.

    I have not shared my bun recipe. It is the same recipe I use to make our sandwich bread each week. I'll try to post it sometime.

  4. I like chicken liver. . .try add some pineapple bits. I beat you will gonna love it

  5. Thanks for this informative post! I found it while researching liver recipes as I'm just starting to include it in my diet once a week in preparation for pregnancy :)

    I tried it for the first time this week and was pleasantly surprised! My husband ground it up in the food processor and then made a chili! I didn't think I'd be able to eat it without it being hidden with other ground meat but it was really good! I honestly wouldn't have known it was liver if he didn't tell me.

  6. nice, this is on my list to make!



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