I'm big on beef liver. For one, it makes a lot of evolutionary sense in terms of using as much from a kill as possible. Second, if you learn to like it I think you may find yourself surprised at how regular doses (it is nature's multi-vitamin) uplift your spirits. Nothing like topping up on all essential vitamins and minerals in a big way. On that score, I've blogged this before but those of you new to all this, take note:
- A mere 4 ounces of beef liver roughly approximates the total nutrition of 5 pounds of fruit
- Calorie for calorie, beef liver has thousands of times more nutrition than "fortified" bread
I'm so big on the nutritional value of liver that I've decided to put together a "Liver Page" on the blog...something I can update from time to time to serve as a one-stop reference. Consider how many health news articles you see about "the tremendous nutrition in x"—usually some vegetable or fruit—when the reality is that liver pretty much knocks everything else out of the water, particularly all vegetables and all fruits. Soon, you'll be able to pop a link in the comments in order to cure mass ignorance.
The nutritional powerhouse of beef liver is such that it gives me some pause, now, when I see a lot of emphasis on "anti-nutrients." For instance, if the only way you can manage the texture of liver is to dredge it in flour, I'd rather you dredge it in flour and eat your liver. Bottom line, instead of obsessing over anti-nutrients, how about focus on nutrients?
Heretofore, the only thing I've come up with besides the standard liver & onions recipe both I and my wife grew up eating, is beef liver pâté (courtesy of Critical MAS). (And actually, artisanal pâté of all sorts is a great way to get your liver, as is foie gras.) The problem with those products is that they're expensive by comparison ($1-2 per pound for raw liver) and they don't really make a meal. So, for the last month or so, I've been cooking up a couple of pounds of beef liver per week, in liver & onions fashion. That would get us a fresh meal, maybe a leftover meal sometimes, and my wife's favorite breakfast has become a few thin slices of cold liver (2 ounces total) wrapped in a warmed up corn tortilla.
The other day I set out to find other ways to do liver and came upon this recipe from allrecipes.com they call Smothered Beef Liver. I decided on this one because of the tomato sauce...figuring that, above all, might induce liver haters to give it a try. Tomato sauce is very good at smoothing flavors out, such that virtually everything tastes like veal parmesan. ...Anyway, this recipe is simple, quick, and way less messy than liver & onions. I'll have a different one to try probably next week.
I modified the recipe in a few ways. First, I chopped up 2 slices of bacon, fried it and set the bits aside (added back in with the onions later). Then I added 3 pats of butter to the bacon drippings and just enough olive oil to sauté the onions. On that score, I went beyond just softening them, to slightly browning them. I used gluten free flour for the dredge, and also beef stock instead of water to thin the tomato sauce. Finally, I sprinkled on some dried parsley at the end. Click images for hi-res.
I really liked it quite a lot, ate a big helping. So did Beatrice. In fact, she just got back from picking up her parents from the airport and the three of them had leftovers, and everyone liked it. I tried it cold and really liked it. It's a winner for a new idea, new alternative.
Does it have that classic liver flavor? Uh, I found it barely detectable, though I happen to like that flavor. Because it's simmered in the sauce for 10 minutes, it really comes out very tender, without any of the texture issues many complain about.
I think it would go very well with some mashed potatoes. So, give it a try if you dare.