Yes, I know. Gross. But hear me out...
Liver is a true superfood – and you know how much I loathe using that word, so inundated is the health food marketing world with claims of it. So when I use it you know I really mean it.
And you know I really, REALLY mean it because for the decade that I was vegetarian, the very thought of eating cooked, blended organ meat would have made me hurl. Even once I started eating meat again a few years ago, the idea of liver still grossed me out.
That is, until I finally worked up the courage to buy some liver and cook the dreaded thing. I was heavily pregnant and iron deficient, despite having started to eat muscle meat – mostly fish - for a year or so already.
I remember frying the small amount of liver I had purchased, and making a batch of liver pâté. I carefully placed it into a jar. I was nervous and grossed out, but curious. Finally, I tentatively tasted it. The next thing I remember I was crouched over the kitchen sink with an empty jar in one hand, and a cleanly licked spoon in the other. I had devoured the whole jar of pâté in one sitting – or should I say, in one standing.
If you’re new to liver, I highly suggest starting with chicken liver, due to its mild taste and delicate texture. Beef liver has a much stronger flavour. However it is richer in nutrients than chicken liver, especially when you source it from organic, grass-fed animals....
Source liver from local, ecologically produced and humanely grown grass-fed animals
Organic butchers are a good starting place to source this, but if you live rurally and know have a working relationship with a local cattle farmer who raises his or her animals in and ecological and humane way... then lucky you!
Why eat it?
It’s highly nutritious
Let me justify my earlier use of that annoying AF word: “superfood”. Liver really is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. It contains high levels of iron, zinc, choline, every B vitamin (including folate), and each of the fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E and K....
It reduces waste
Eating organ meats such as liver is respectful to the animal in the sense that it reduces waste by using parts of the animal not commonly embraced in our culture at this time – the organs, bones, and fat. For eons these have been considered the most nutritious parts of the animal, with the muscle meat prized least and sometimes given to other animals.
It brings us closer to old traditions
Food grandma cooked. Real bread, real cake with real sugar, eggs, butter and flour. Rituals and community are a big missing part of our relationship with food. Organ meats are a part of every traditional culture. Short of getting all Weston A Price on your ass, I’ll just say – organ meats have been eaten for a long time, and there’s probably a reason for that.
It’s cheap as chips
Because people don't know just how amazing they are, organ meats are cheap. Win.
- 500g grass-fed beef liver (or organic, pasture-raised chicken liver)
- 1 Tbsp arrowroot powder
- 4 Tbsp butter (ideally from grass-fed cows)
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- pinch of black pepper
- 120mL heavy whipping cream (ideally from grass-fed cows)
- With a paper towel, pat any excess moisture off the liver. Sprinkle with salt, thyme, pepper, then the arrowroot powder (arrowroot is a gluten-free alternative to flour).
- Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add butter.
- Cook liver until lightly browned on both sides. Transfer to the food processor.
- Meanwhile, add onions to the skillet. Cook until lightly browned and soft.
- Add heavy cream to deglaze the pan (scraping up any caremelized bits with your wooden spoon or metal spatula).
- Transfer contents of pan to the food processor.
- Process/pulse until you have a nice, thick pate. Taste test and add additional salt if needed.
- Transfer to small mason jars, ensuring no air bubbles are present. Use within 1 week or freeze jars for later use.
How to use grass-fed beef liver pate:
- The classic way to eat pâté is smeared on crackers or bread (if you go this route, go heavy on the pâté!).
- Try it on slices of cucumber – or even serve it as a dip with an array of fresh vegetables (like you would with hommus). I think it’s delicious with fresh carrots.
- Not a fan of straight-up pâté? Mix a few tablespoons into any recipe that uses ground meat, such as spaghetti bolognese, meatballs, or meatloaf (if you actually make that - no can do).