This recipe is very special to me. I learned it from my paternal grandmother before her decline with dementia (she has now passed). My grandmother once made a lot of traditional Yiddish recipes until she became a dietician and bought into the low-fat craze. I am glad she continued to make this and that I got to enjoy it and learn from her how to make it.
But isn’t liver a heart attack on a plate?!
I am not going to get into a discussion here about saturated fat and heart disease – that can be a scientific discussion outside this forum. This blog is about traditional, delicious, nutrient dense real foods and liver is at the top of the heap. According to the Weston A Price foundation page on liver, “Practically every cuisine has liver specialties. Some cultures place such a high value on liver that human hands can’t touch it. Liver contains more nutrients, gram for gram, than any other food.” If there was one true whole food this is it – if you eat liver once a week you will enjoy the following which most of you probably take in supplement form:
- 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
We try to eat liver once a week mostly as sauteed chicken nuggets. This is a great recipe to make for a party or for Jewish holiday events. I make it every year for a crowd at our Passover seder. I have adjusted the recipe down for this post to just 1 lb of liver but if you are making it for around 25 people – 3 lbs is perfect and you just have to triple the recipe. Make sure to buy organic grass fed liver if you can get it.
- 1 lb. pastured chicken liver
- 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup shmaltz (rendered chicken fat) or ghee
- 2 hard boiled pastured eggs
- sea salt to taste (where to buy salt)
Add half the schmaltz to a hot pan and then add the onions and cook on medium low for about 15-20 minutes until they start to caramelize. This will add a nice sweetness to the chopped liver without adding sugar. In the meantime, to prepare the liver, drain it and rinse it in a colander. Using a plastic cutting board, cut out the veins in the liver as they can be tough – there is usually only one or two per liver and you can tell when you cut it where they are. Once the onions are soft and starting to caramelize, add the livers to the pan with the rest of the schmaltz. Saute until the livers are pink and are just at the point of no longer secreting red juices when pressed on. You do not want to over cook. Remove from heat to cool slightly. Add half the mixture to a food processor with one of the hard-boiled eggs. Blend until smooth and add salt to taste. Then do the second batch with the remaining liver mixture and hard-boiled egg.
Tip – doing this in two batches allows you to cover up any seasoning mistakes – if you add too much salt to the first batch then don’t add any to the second and mix them up. I enlist the help of my sister to be my salt taster because I never season it enough! This is best served cold so it is worth refrigerating overnight making it a great make ahead dish. Serve with a baguette or crackers or if you are grain free, serve with crunchy raw vegetables.
Photo credit: Courtney of The Polivka Family