Meet the Offal: Liver Edition
In most parts of the world, organ meats and what’s called offal (pronounced like “awful”) in the US are highly prized delicacies. From anticuchos (grilled beef heart) in South America to chicken feet to oxtail soup, other cultures have long been aware of the immense benefits of eating the nose-to-tail way and have found preparation methods that allow for maximum nutritional absorption and delicious presentation.
Liver is one of those foods that most people either love or they hate. Typically, if someone was exposed to it growing up, they have a better chance of developing a fondness for it. Personally, I don’t recall ever eating liver until I gave up vegetarianism in my mid-30s. Now, I try to eat as much of it as I possibly can and even take a daily supplement of dehydrated liver that I make. My first experience with it was with some store-bought grassfed beef liver I picked up and it made me understand why people hate liver (in hindsight, I believe this liver was grassfed, but not grass-finished). The smell and the taste both were… I’ll just say unappetizing. However, since I knew that liver was one of the most nutritious substances found on the planet, I knew I needed to figure out a way to learn to love it. So, next time at the store I picked up a bison liver and it was a total gamechanger. I cooked it in a similar recipe and it was divine. When I bit into it, it tasted like minerals and health and vitality. Shortly thereafter, I received my first Tallgrass Heritage liver (this animal had spent its entire life on pasture and was grass-finished) and, again, it was wonderful to eat, but even better than that was the surge of energy I felt for the new few days. That’s when I realized, this stuff is no joke! Forget chia seeds and goji berries, THIS is a superfood.
To illustrate just how potent liver is, here’s a side-by-side nutritional comparison I found on stephgaudreau.com of 100 grams of beef liver compared to 100 grams of chicken breast:
Protein: 27 grams
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): 3.4mg (201% DV)
Vitamin B6: 1mg (51% DV)
Vitamin B9 (folate): 260mcg (65% DV)
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): 83.1mcg (1,286% DV)
Copper: 14.6mg (730% DV)
Iron: 6.2mg (34% DV)
Selenium: 32.8mcg (47% DV)
Protein: 31 grams
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): 0.1mg (7% DV)
Vitamin B6: 0.6mg (30% DV)
Vitamin B9 (folate): 4mcg (1% DV)
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): 0.3mcg (6% DV)
Iron: 1mg (6% DV)
Selenium: 27.6mcg (39% DV)
So, as you can see, this stuff is not to be trifled with. Before I began consuming beef liver on a regular basis, I was taking 5-6 vitamins and supplements on a regular basis. Most of them were ayurvedic herbal supplements, but I also had to take iron pills religiously because if I missed a couple days, I would feel faint and black out when I stood up. Now, I still enjoy working with different herbs and supplements, but the only thing I take on a regular basis are my homemade liver pills. I don’t need to take anything else!
I’m going to be sharing several posts about offal and the incredible value of the parts we (US eaters) typically discard. I’ll be getting into all of it, including heart, kidneys, tongue, and even fat (spoiler alert, completely by accident, I lost 15 pounds on a high-fat diet). We’ll discuss why they’re important and ways to prepare them to help with the ick factor for those of us who didn’t grow up eating this way. Trust me, if I can learn to love offal, anybody can.