Sunday, April 15, 2012

Eating Liver

As I mentioned in my last post, my palate remains hard to please. I'm not alone when it comes to liver, though. Most people have to brace themselves and many can't seem to get it down at all. One exception is my husband, who can eat pan-seared slices of beef liver as if it's going out of style.
Which it has. I wish I knew the stats, but liver consumption has doubtless plummeted in the U.S., thanks to the besmirching of its nutritional benefits and the lack of reason to eat the dang stuff for pleasure. Considering that both modern analysis and the traditional practices of healthy cultures agree that liver from a healthy animal is just about the most nutrition-packed, toxin-free thing you can put in your mouth, that's a serious shame. In my kitchen I follow the custom of serving liver at least once a week. Once kiddos arrive, liver will be among their first foods.
This is more easily said than done! Seriously, I do. Not. Like. Liver. It tastes strong in the wrong ways. It's gelatinously mushy undercooked and toughens easily as it cooks. Tricks like soaking it in lemon juice or vinegar before cooking make no discernible difference to me. Other ways to make liver palatable have helped but I still had to force myself to eat it. Very recently, though, I made a liver dish that was good. Force myself to eat liver? No need! I am so particular about good nutrition that this made my day.

I won't lie to you or lead you on, fellow liver-haters - my liver salvation still has an offal flavor that prevents it from being delicious the way, say, ice cream is delicious. You probably won't be knocking each other down in line to get more than your serving or two per week, but there is some enjoyment in it. This is amazing to me.
I made, of course, a pâté. I had tried one before with moderate success but it would end up sitting forgotten in the back of the fridge. I could eat one cracker spread with it, but consuming several ounces per week was out of the question. It was easier to cut liver into bite-size pieces using scissors, boil for two minutes, drain, and douse in homemade ketchup, alternating bites with a nice side such as herbed mashed potatoes. That and relying more on naturally milder chicken liver than beef liver was the best I could do then.
This was it. I had bookmarked it last August but never made it, probably because I tended not to have an extra pound of bacon around that I was eager to hand-dice. Now I have packs of diced bacon around. The barely-tolerable liver was starting to wear even on my husband's palate of steel. Chicken livers were thawed in the fridge. It was time.
Contrary to my customary behavior, I changed very little in the recipe, mostly just cutting it down to fit the amount of liver my farm packs per bag.
Chicken liver and bacon pâté
1/2 lb. diced bacon
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 lbs. chicken livers
8 T. butter
generous pinches of salt and ground black pepper
1 generous T. dried parsley
Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-low heat. When browned, add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is soft and caramelizing. Add livers and cook until barely firm; as they cook, gradually add the butter, 2 T. at a time.
Transfer the skillet contents to a food processor. Add salt, pepper, and parsley. Pulse several times to get a coarse paste. Scoop into three mini loaf pans or, I assume, one medium loaf pan.
Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Turn onto a plate, prying out with a knife if needed. Serve with rolls or crackers, plus extra butter and perhaps cheese slices.


  1. Have you considered calves liver? It's not as "overhwelming" a flavor. Much more tolerable; I could even go so far as to say tasty.

  2. That's an excellent idea. My main farm doesn't sell calves' liver but once farmers' markets open around here I should be able to find it conveniently. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Liver isn't bad if you try grilled onions and peppers to go with it, it adds much more flavor to the taste. I've grown to enjoy liver the few chances I have to eat it. Speaking of farmers' markets, I really want to buy my food from them, but there aren't very many in Indiana...I think there are a couple during the week or something, but not sure where.

  4. Christopher, there's a great one in downtown Indiana that I used to go to on Wednesdays 4-6pm and Saturdays 9am-noon on 8th & Church Streets. It's typically small but there's an Amish family with great meat (you'd probably have to request liver because they don't always bring it) and you get excellent deals on produce if you comparison shop. It might be open for the season already.

    Caramelized onions and such are nice but the best they did for me was provide good bites to alternate with nasty liver bites. They do work for some people, though, which is great.

  5. Oh, and I love for looking up markets and the like wherever you are. I scour it whenever I'm in a new area!

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  7. I'm with you. I don't like liver either. Especially beef liver.

    But I found an easy way to eat it RAW, which likely gives you multiple times more bang for the buck nutritionally because all of the enzymes, beneficial bacteria, and vitamins are intact.

    To eat it raw, I only use only liver from cows that have been grass-fed. I cut it up into pieces the size of a book of matches. I wrap those pieces in wax-paper and put them all in a tupperware. I put the tupperware in the freezer. Every day, I take out one of the pieces and chop it up into smaller pieces that I can swallow whole. I then swallow each small piece like pills with a glass of water. They are easy to swallow, and I can't taste a thing. Over the course of a week, I know that eat the equivalent of an entire serving of raw liver. And I know that I am getting 100% of the nutritional benefit of the liver. I don't know why more people don't do this.

    I have a blog at that discusses the politcs of food and how our current processed-food culture came to be the way it is. Please check it out.

  8. I have heard of eating raw liver that way. I know it's safe as long as the pieces have been frozen solid for 14 days, though that probably kills beneficial bacteria as well. It's still undoubtedly the healthiest way to eat liver due to the enzymes and vitamins that you mention.

    Why haven't I done this? I do want to keep liver on the family table because I don't think I'll get my future kids to swallow bits of liver every day. Perhaps, like me, some people just don't find it realistic from that standpoint. My husband probably wouldn't be that interested in bothering since he'll just eat liver. I might do it, though. In fact, I'll set aside some of the beef liver I have thawing now for this. I'll want to eat extra when pregnant but might be even more averse to liver then, so perhaps that'll be how I manage.

    I'm heading over now to check out your blog! Thanks for the link.