Crispy Lemon Liver

Well, the votes are in and the liver recipe won out. 🙂  I’m not at all unhappy about that, because I happen to love liver – I have two pounds of chicken livers in my freezer and am going to give chopped liver a try in the near future.  At any rate, we have a ton of grass-fed liver in our freezer (and a source for much more) and I’m on a quest to find different ways to cook it.

This preparation?  Is delicious.

I have to agree with my friend Jason – most people dislike liver because they’ve never had it prepared properly.  You have to be very careful not to overcook it, or it will get dry, grainy and rubbery.  Yes, it can have a pretty strong flavor (which I happen to enjoy), but there are ways to mitigate that; mainly, marinate it.  I always soak beef liver in something before cooking it – it used to be milk, these days it’s coconut milk unless the recipe calls for a flavored marinade – use which ever works.  Calves and chicken livers have a more delicate taste and marinating is unnecessary, and I’m willing to bet they would be equally delicious in this recipe.

The original recipe for this called for dredging the liver in flour, so I substituted almond flour.  It gave the dish an interesting texture, but in retrospect is really not needed; in the future, I’ll probably omit it all together and simply cook the liver in the bacon fat, unadorned.   Leaving out the almond flour will significantly reduce the calories in the dish as well.

I’ve not forgotten about your requests for the rest of the dishes – I’ll post the recipes for the fingerlings, kohlrabi and broccoli soon.

Note:  If you really like lemon, sprinkle about a tablespoon of grated zest into the dish right before serving.  Also, if you’re avoiding dairy, substitute the butter with a good quality olive oil.

Crispy Lemon Liver

Crispy Lemon Liver

serves 4

8 slices bacon
1/2 cup almond flour
2 tablespoons dried dill weed
salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound beef liver, cut into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Cook bacon until crisp; drain on paper towel, then crumble. Do not drain the bacon fat from the skillet.

Combine almond flour, dill, salt& pepper in a shallow dish; dredge the liver to coat well, shaking off any excess.  Add the coated liver to the skillet and fry over medium-high heat until crisp on outside but still moist inside (about 4-6 minutes). Remove the liver with a slotted spoon; cover and keep warm.

Discard any remaining fat from the skillet. Add the butter and melt over medium-low heat, scraping up all the brown bits. Stir in lemon juice, parsley and crumbled bacon. Return the liver to the pan and heat through.

Serve immediately.

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Posted in participation of Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Livers

The last time I posted a liver recipe, it was a bust – I don’t think one of my readers said it sounded tasty. 😛 Ah, but you know I don’t give up that easily…really, y’all, what’s holding you back?  I live with two males who looked at me like I’d lost my mind the first time I said I was going to make liver and now Beloved’s in Charleston sucking up the Charcuterie Plate at Slightly North of Broad every night and texting me photos of it.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – organ meats, especially liver, from pastured/grass-fed animals are some of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat.  And if cooked properly they really are quite tasty – just ask Beloved who, while in Texas, had very thinly sliced beef tongue at a Japanese restaurant and decided that the time has come for us to make one of the two (yes, two) in our freezer, it was so delicious.

So, I guess y’all have that to look forward to, as well.

Seriously, though, chicken livers are much milder in flavor than beef liver and are more tender, as well.  If you take care not to overcook them, they are quite delicious.  This preparation cooks them longer than is normally recommended, but does not overcook them because, well, they’re wrapped in bacon and slathered with barbecue sauce and how can you go wrong with that??

The serving size for this is 12 and is intended to be an appetizer or party “nibble,” but if you’re so inclined you can divide it into 4 portions and it will make a damn fine main course.  I made this mid-afternoon one Saturday, testing out the recipe and as a snack, and they were so good Beloved and I ate practically all of them and were so stuffed we didn’t eat dinner.  Yes, they are that good.

Note: If you don’t a source for pastured chickens, Whole Foods sells Bell and Evans chickens which, while not pastured, are fairly humanely raised and fed organic, non-GMO feed.   Many of the stores carry the livers as well.

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Livers

12 servings

12 chicken livers, cleaned and cut in half
12 slices thick-cut bacon
1/4 cup Maple Barbecue Sauce

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Slice the bacon slices in half, and wrap on half around each piece of chicken liver. Secure with a toothpick.

Line a shallow, rimmed baking sheet with foil and place the bacon-wrapped on it, bout an inch apart. Lightly brush with about half of the barbecue sauce.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the chicken livers are just cooked through and the bacon is becoming crisp, turning the livers and basting them with the remaining barbecue sauce about halfway through.

Remove from the oven, arrange neatly on a platter and serve immediately.

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Beef Liver with Onions and Bacon

Now, now – hear me out on this, okay?  (I can hear you groaning, you know.)

I have always loved liver and onions, myself.  I think I was fed it for the first time when I was very small by my great-aunt Maxine, a woman one simply did not argue with – if she sat something in front of you, you ate it, end of discussion.  In fact, there was no discussion.

Most Americans balk when it comes to organ meats, and I’m certainly among their numbers – while I enjoy beef and chicken liver, I have yet to force myself to try kidneys or sweetbreads.  It’s really a shame, because the organs of animals are among the most nutritious parts.  A 3-ounce serving of beef liver, for instance, contains the recommended daily allowance for riboflavin, copper, Vitamin A, and Vitamin B12 and better than 40% of the recommended daily allowance for vitamin B6, phosphorus, iron, zinc, folate and protein.

I think part of the problem we have with organ meats, especially liver, is that they’ve gotten something of a bad rap as of late – while that 3-ounce portion of beef liver is really nutrient-dense, it also contains a good amount of cholesterol and we’ve been made needlessly afraid of dietary cholesterol over the last 30 years (thank you, Time Magazine).  Another concern – and this one is very real – is the toxins contained in liver; the liver’s job is to clean them out of a person’s (or steer’s) system.  If you have a steer in a feedlot, eating an unnatural diet in filthy conditions and getting regular doses of antibiotics and growth hormones, its liver isn’t going to be in great shape.  In fact, the livers of most feedlot cattle when they’re slaughtered are infected and full of abscesses; I wouldn’t touch the beef liver sold in a grocery store with a 10-foot pole.  The liver of a healthy steer that’s spent its life out in the pasture, eating what it’s supposed to be eating and doing what it’s supposed to be doing, is free of these toxins and healthy for you.

I think another issue most people have with organ meats is that we’re so used to eating only the muscle meat of animals – we expect liver to taste and have the texture of a steak when it’s not.  Beef liver has a strong, distinct flavor (that can mitigated somewhat by soaking in milk – or any marinade, really – before cooking) and a softer, almost mealy texture that can easily turn tough if overcooked.  Gently cooked until just barely pink in the middle, grass-fed beef liver can be delicious, especially when smothered in bacon and sauteed onions.  ‘Cause what isn’t better smothered in bacon and sauteed onions?

Oh – if you need an endorsement for how good this tasted, ask The Young One, who had never eaten a piece of liver in his life and was hesitant to even try it.  He went back for seconds.

Beef Liver with Bacon and Onions

Beef Liver with Onions and Bacon

serves 3 – 4

1 pound thinly sliced beef liver, preferably grass-fed and finished

Milk

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

1/2 pound bacon, preferably pastured, cut into 1-inch pieces

salt and pepper

Place the liver in a large bowl and add enough milk to cover; set aside and allow to soak for 30 minutes.

Heat a large, heavy – preferably cast iron – skillet over medium-low heat and cook the bacon until just crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve on a plate; keep warm.

Remove all but about 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the skillet and reserve.  Over medium-low heat, cook the onion until soft, translucent and fragrant, but not brown.  Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the plate with the bacon; keep warm.

Drain the milk from the liver, pat dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Return the reserved bacon fat to the skillet.  Gently cook the liver slices in the bacon fat over medium-low heat until barely pink inside, about 3 or 4 minutes per side.  Serve immediately, smothered in the onions and bacon.

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Beef Liver With Onions and Bacon on Foodista

Posted in participation with Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday