Ask most people what food they simply can’t stomach and you’re likely to hear the same thing: liver. (I’m talking beef or calves liver, here, not foie gras, which is another story entirely.)
Despite a few die-hard liver lovers—like the members of the Pittsburgh Liver and Onions Club— most Americans consider liver to be one of the most disgusting foods they were made to eat as a child.
With its earthy, mineral-rich flavor, liver can be an acquired taste, especially if it’s overcooked, which is often the case. Plus, its role as a detoxification system for the body makes it even more unappetizing. Oh, and it’s pretty high in fat and cholesterol, too.
But that hides everything that is good about this organ meat, because when it comes to good-for-you-foods, liver has quite the resume. A four-ounce portion is astonishingly nutrient dense, providing about half the protein you’ll need in a day, along with substantial amounts of vitamins A, B12, B6, and folate.
So if taste is the only thing that’s stopping you from eating liver every now and then, here are a few tips from liver aficionado Chef Nate Allen of Knife & Fork Restaurant in Spruce Pine, NC. His rule of thumb: Don’t try to serve slabs of liver. It’s better to combine it with other strong flavors so you get all the goodness without being overpowered.
Grill It: Wrap slices of liver in prosciutto and grill until the prosciutto is crisp but the liver still rare.
Toss it in a Salad: Chef Allen dusts finger-length pieces of liver in seasoned flour, deep fries it until crispy, then tosses it in a salad of herbs, red chilies, and onions and dresses it with lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. The finishing touch: slivers of a hard cheese like Toledo, a Portuguese cheese that is rubbed with smoked paprika.
Add it to Soup: Chef Allen uses pureed raw liver to enrich soups, such as chicken and vegetable soup. “You get all the depth of flavor, but it’s dispersed and more subtle,” he says.
Stuff it in Pasta: Add some finely chopped raw liver to ground beef and use it to stuff cannelloni or other pastas.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.