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My 4 Favorite Ways to Eat Liver

- When I was a kid I didn’t like much in the way of real food. I mostly ate frozen pizza, chicken nuggets and tater tots, Kraft mac n cheese, and well, you get the picture.

As I became a ‘grown-up’ my palate matured, and I gradually found a liking for things like tomatoes, beets, and asparagus that didn’t come out of a can. This evolution has continued, and this year I discovered my love for two incredibly nutrient dense foods: oysters and liver.

I love talking to people about liver – the pursed lips and the wrinkled noses are just so predictably fun, and understandably so!

Liver is not a main-stream American food. Most of us (including and especially myself) have been trained as children to scoff at liver right along with brussel sprouts, and other “strange” foods.  But liver is so incredibly good for you, it’s worth learning to love.

So what makes liver so wonderful? 

According to the Weston A. Price Foundation:

Quite simply, it contains more nutrients, gram for gram, than any other food. In summary, liver provides:

  • An excellent source of high-quality protein
  • Nature’s most concentrated source of vitamin A
  • All the B vitamins in abundance, particularly vitamin B12
  • One of our best sources of folic acid
  • A highly usable form of iron
  • Trace elements such as copper, zinc and chromium; liver is our best source of copper
  • An unidentified anti-fatigue factor
  • CoQ10, a nutrient that is especially important for cardio-vascular function
  • A good source of purines, nitrogen-containing compounds that serve as precursors for DNA and RNA.

With a list like that, I decided that liver was a food worth acquiring a taste for.

Growing up in a household where the Standard American Diet reigned, you can probably imagine that liver was definitely not gracing my fork, let alone my weekly diet. And though my Pennsylvania Dutch mom has always been a huge fan of liver and onions, I needed some good ‘starter’ foods to ease myself and my family into eating liver on a regular basis.

After a bit of experimenting, I found a few ways to put liver on our plates at least 2-3 times per week (including leftovers) and have everyone (including my 5 and 1 year olds) asking for seconds.

Here are my family’s 4 favorite ways to eat liver:

#1 – Spaghetti Bolognese – (a.k.a. tomato and meat sauce)

My farmer sells a ground beef/liver blend which makes any standard ground beef dish into a nutrient-dense power house.  You can make your own blend by processing liver from grass-fed beef, bison, lamb or pork in your food processor and then mixing with your ground meat.

The amount of liver you use can depends on your bravery – start with 10% and move up to 50-60% as your taste buds approve.

To make the bolognese, saute an onion and some garlic in a pan with some good fat (I usually use left-over bacon fat), then brown the meat and break it up as small as you like.

Add your favorite tomato sauce and allow to simmer so the flavors mingle, then pour over brown rice pasta, or if you prefer to avoid grains – pour over roasted spaghetti squash.

I also like to slow cook shredded cabbage in bolognese sauce for a meal reminiscent of ‘pigs-in-a-blanket’ of my youth.  Essentially, you could use this blend for anything calling for ground beef – meatloaf, chili, and so much more.

#2 – Chicken Liver Pate

Pate is a great gateway food for learning to love liver because this stuff tastes like a delicious, buttery rich spread.  If you’re not so sure, start with a thin layer on a delicious sourdough bread and gradually layer more on.

Try chicken, duck, or even foie gras if you have the budget for it. Chicken liver pate is affordable and easy to make at home – get the recipe here.

#3 – Braunschweiger

This is my new favorite – A German classic sausage similar to liverwurst but with a mild flavor and soft, even texture.

The one I like is made with beef, beef liver, and seasonings, though technically it could be made with pork, calf, veal, beef, etc.  I order mine online, store it in the freezer, and my family (kids included!) eats about a pound per week with breakfast, lunch, or snacks.

#4 – Burgers

Yes, the good ole American classic can be a nutrient-dense rock star. My hubby is the burger maker, and he mixes our beef/liver blend with grilled onions and pan-fries them in bacon fat.

Top with cheddar from grass-fed cows and a dollop of cultured ketchup and serve with a side of sauerkraut – you’ve got yourself a pretty perfect meal that the whole family will love.  Oh, and don’t forget that you’re eating liver too!

There you have it!  With options like these, there’s really no excuse to not man-up and eat some liver.

 It’s your turn!

What are YOUR favorite ways to eat liver?

This post is part of the following blog carnivals: Sunday SchoolMonday ManiaReal Food WednesdayFat Tuesday

 

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Comments

  1. Susan Parilis says:

    I season beef liver with salt & pepper, cut it into strips and put it in a 200 degree oven for a couple of hours until it has gone from being wet and slimy to dry and chewy. Then I cut it up into bite size pieces and keep them in the fridge, then I nibble at them throughout the day. I also make an unseasoned batch for the dog. :-)

  2. This is great. We’re always looking for more ways to eat liver. I always had it pan fried with onions as a kid, but that doesn’t fly with my family now. Here the two ways we eat it now:
    http://theliberatedkitchenpdx.com/recipes/pork-fennel-sausage-patties-take-2/
    http://theliberatedkitchenpdx.com/recipes/make-ahead-meatloaf/

  3. marina says:

    yummy, i will have to try making burgers with liver! we also regularly eat the first 3 on your list, but my most favorite is a liver cake – cooked like crepes and layered!! I posted it on my blog in Recipes recently.

  4. Saw your post on Kelly the Kitchen Cop. Liver is on our menu tonight. I too love it as a red sauce, really has no liver flavor at all. Braunschweiger is a favorite for me too! People sometimes think I’m nuts for loving it, but I think it’s great and perfect on crackers for a quick snack. We are enjoying our tonight simply floured and fried in coconut oil. Our kids love it this way.

  5. Liberty says:

    When I’m not trying to get it in them – I love it wrapped in bacon and grilled – hard NOT to like!
    Blessings
    http://bit.ly/tjXzWC

  6. Pale52 says:

    Found my way here via Kelly’s real food wednesday. You post caught my eye because I’d just finished my dinner which included liver. I did some butter fried onion, chorizo, cabbage and kale. I marinaded some chicken livers in cream overnight before frying them up. I normally treat liver like that, along with making pate when I have loads ox liver (although once made, I can’t stomach it so my partner eats it).

    I like the idea of mixing it with ground beef. That would probably be good way of hiding it in a meal so you don’t even have to tell people.

  7. Lisa C says:

    Awesome. Adding liver to my diet is an immediate goal of mine as I’d like to try to get pregnant soon. Thanks for the ideas!

  8. Thanks for the ideas. We tried liver recently with onions and bacon but the kids (and me) weren’t fighting for the leftovers. I want to make sure we get it on our diets though so these ideas are bookmarked! Thanks!

    Paula

  9. [...] My 4 Favorite Ways to Eat Liver from Holistic Kid. Great ideas for making this nutrient dense food more palatable. [...]

  10. [...] My 4 Favorite Ways to Eat Liver from Holistic Kid. Great ideas for making this nutrient dense food more palatable. [...]

  11. [...] Now we frequently chat about her latest fermented foods and tips for incorporating grass-fed liver into daily [...]

  12. [...] of fat-soluble vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and wholesome fats in six main categories: seafood, liver, full fat dairy, eggs, animal/coconut fats and bone broth. It is essential to source these foods [...]

  13. [...] 1/2 lb Grass-Fed Ground Beef Liver [...]

  14. [...] pie with cauliflower mash crust (Heavy on the veg, throw in some ground liver and/or heart for delicious, hidden [...]

  15. [...] My 4 Favorite Ways to Eat Liver by Holistic Kid [...]

  16. [...] fat-soluble vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and wholesome fats in six main categories: seafood, liver, full fat dairy, eggs, animal/coconut fats and bone broth. It is essential to source these foods [...]

  17. [...] Liver from healthy pasture raised animals is extremely nutrient-dense and a perfect first food for baby. Many cultures around the world feed their babies chewed liver in their early days of eating solids. [...]

  18. I love liver – especially pate (unfortunately I have no idea how to access the correct accents on here) and this reminds me that I have some chicken livers in the freezer that I was planning to make into pate (and then forgot).

    I made some spiced liver a few days ago with a cauliflower biryani which went down well, although one of my favourites is the traditional liver and bacon.

    I must try the burgers, I think that will go down very well here!

  19. Amanda says:

    Any idea about the safety or value of venison liver? All of the publications mentioned talk about the greatness of beef, chicken, pork, etc. but not venison. Just want to make sure this wild game would still be as beneficial.

  20. ISA says:

    My mom makes this really delicious liver cake from several layers of thin pancake-like liver flat rounds and mayo inbetween.

  21. Shepards Pie is our favorite way to hide liver. Sautee ground beef and ground liver (or shredded – we use a cheese grater with frozen liver). Add a mixture of sauteed veggies, carrots, etc… Put in a large Pyrex dish. Add gravy. Top with a layer of mashed potatoes. Add small pats of butter on the potatoes and bake until the potatoes have areas of browning. Enjoy!

  22. Douggy says:

    LiverBurgers sounds good!! And simple. I’m going to try cold cooking some liver, for even further preservation of the bennies. I am anticipate.

  23. [...] Now we frequently chat about her latest fermented foods and tips for incorporating grass-fed liver into daily [...]

  24. [...] of fat-soluble vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and wholesome fats in six main categories: seafood, liver, full fat dairy, eggs, animal/coconut fats and bone broth. It is essential to source these foods [...]

  25. [...] Ingredients1 lb Grass-Fed Ground Beef - buy grassfed beef here1/2 lb Grass-Fed Ground Beef Liver - buy grassfed beef liver here1/2 lb Pasture Raised Ground Pork4 Eggs from Pasture Raised Hens, [...]

  26. [...] lots of butter. Nourishing Joy has a few different pates. And I like Holistic Squid’s ideas for using liver. It’s common to make pate with liver, but Nourished Kitchen shares a recipe that simply fries [...]

  27. [...] pie with cauliflower mash crust (Heavy on the veg, throw in some ground liver and/or heart for delicious, hidden [...]

  28. [...] beyond ground beef, chicken breasts, and steaks.   One of the most nutrient dense foods on earth, liver from healthy animals provides us with more fat-soluble vitamins A and D than any other [...]

  29. Jennifer L. says:

    I ordered the raw braunschweiger from US Wellness Meats and now I am just not sure what to do with it. I suspect I need to cook it first–then what? We don’t really do crackers–how else can I serve it up to a toddler (and her typically- not-so-fond-of-liver mom?). Any ideas?

    • Emily says:

      I typically buy the cooked one, but you can sear it and serve it on cucumber slices. If you don’t do bread, make a lettuce wrap sandwich and put some in. Hope that helps!

      • Jennifer L. says:

        I just tried to make beef liver dredged in coconut flour, topped with onions and butter and baked in bacon fat, topped in bacon and no, no, no I cannot eat it. I am going to try searing the braunschweiger and serving it with cucumber to see how that goes. I hear mustard also goes well with it. Or cheese. I am really trying to be open minded about this organ meat business, but it’s hard. I read once to chop the liver into small bits, freeze it and then take it like a pill (frozen) in order to get that good nutrition from it. I might try that using my inedible-to-me plate of liver that I keep trying to patiently try to choke down. I was thawing the Braunschweiger yesterday and it scared me, so I put it back in the freezer to think about another day! How much liver does one need to eat to get the benefits, do you think? Once a week, twice? Three times? Twice a day? :-)

  30. Christy says:

    I use it in taco meat and chili – 2:1 beef/liver. I add it to spaghetti, lasagna, really anywhere I use ground beef. I grind mine up in the blender and then freeze in muffin cups – I love it because so many people are afraid to even taste it that they give me theirs for free when they buy bulk cow meat. We have also been given the heart, tongue and tail. Last night a farmer showed up with a big box of frozen offal – free!! (I will take pig, deer – whatever you have!)

  31. [...] great thing about shepherd’s pie is it makes a great hiding place for nutrient-dense liver. (Learn why liver is so great here.) I puree my liver in the food processor or blender, and simply saute it with the ground meat. On [...]

  32. [...] SO… that brings us to liver. Liver is far and away the best source of naturally occurring vitamin A. If you are in the small minority that like liver, great!  Eat it at least 1-2 times per week. If not, you can find some suggestions to feed liver to even the pickiest eater here. [...]

  33. Jenn says:

    We’ve been struggling to add liver into our diet. But today I found a recipe on allrecipes for fried chicken livers. I subbed certain ingredients to make it actual real food, cut them super small (think popcorn chicken), and deep-fried them in organic palm shortening. They were actually good! My kids actually ate them without fighting me too much, which is HUGE! I’m so excited to have found a way to make this amazing food in a way that is palatable to us. I hope we’ll acquire the taste for it, and that we’ll soon be craving it in other dishes!

  34. Melissa says:

    Just starting to experiment with cooking with liver. Thanksgiving was a good excuse as I was easily able to hid the turkey liver in the gravy and a few other dishes. Even made its way into the gumbo yum yum! Can’t wait to try the burgers and the bolagnase.

  35. […] Liver from healthy pasture raised animals is extremely nutrient-dense and a perfect first food for baby. Many cultures around the world feed their babies chewed liver in their early days of eating solids. […]

  36. Patricia says:

    I will be trying the Bolognese (liver/beef) today :-)

  37. […] My 4 Favorite Ways to Eat Liver @ Holistic Squid […]

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