In the past few years, I have noticed a massive resurgence of interest in nose-to-tail eating—that is, the revival of using all parts of the animal, with somewhat of an emphasis on those frequently overlooked pieces that are, more often than not, reserved for things like pet food. Due in part to increased awareness of industrial farming techniques and desires to support more sustainable, ethical, and local food sources, more people are embracing the notion that making use of the entire animal is not only economically sensible but can also be nutritious and delicious.
Organ meats, also known as offal, contain some of the highest levels of vitamins and minerals, ounce for ounce, of any foods known to man. Liver, in particular, is a nutritional powerhouse, with a single serving providing well over 100% of our daily recommended dose of vitamins B12, A, riboflavin, and folate, all which play major roles in the proper functioning of our nervous, cellular, and immune systems. Liver is also a leading source of iron, an essential mineral required for building our red blood cells, which help transport oxygen throughout our bodies.
Many people would like to include more organ meats in their diet, but they don’t know where to start with them. They may be somewhat familiar with the unique tastes and textures of these pieces, yet they often have no idea how to go about preparing them. Chicken livers are a great place to start. They are easily accessible, fairly cheap, and less strongly-flavored than beef liver. Plus, they require minimal preparation and cook quickly, an added bonus when time is an issue. This chicken liver dish was inspired by a recipe I make with chicken thighs. It contains bold, assertive ingredients that stand up well to the livers and provide them with a flavorful, complex sauce that’s delicious served alone or over a starch such as pasta or rice.
If you’re looking to venture further into the world of variety meats, Jennifer McLagan has written a book called Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal. This ode to all things offal is a comprehensive and humorous guide with lots of unique recipes and a must-read for those looking to explore the world of organ meats. Also check out this blog post by Gerald Roliz, CNC.
1 pound chicken livers, cleaned and patted dry
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2 anchovy filets, chopped (may substitute 1 tablespoon fish sauce)
½ cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
4 Roma tomatoes, cut in wedges
2 ounces kalamata olives, cut in half
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 small handful parsley, chopped
1. Cut any sinew or gristle from livers and pat dry with paper towel. Season liberally with salt and pepper. In a heavy pan over medium heat, sear livers in butter until browned on each side. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon or tongs.
2. Add olive oil to pan (if necessary), and sauté onions until golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, crushed red pepper, and anchovy; cook an additional minute. Add white wine and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, scraping up all the browned bits in the pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer until liquid is reduced by about 1/3.
3. Add tomatoes and olives to pan. Cook until tomatoes just begin to break down, about 3 minutes. Add vinegar to sauce and cook 1 minute. Taste, and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
4. Return livers to pan and simmer until livers are just cooked through, 1–2 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley to serve.
To choose your organically grown and fresh ingredients wisely, use the following criteria:
·chemical- and hormone-free meat
·pastured-raised, organic eggs
·whole, unrefined grains
·virgin, unrefined, first-press organic oils
·whole-food, unrefined sweeteners
·pure, clean, spring water
·raw and/or cultured milk and cream products