Country Chicken Liver Pâté…
…and a few thoughts on liver and organ meats:
Modern nutritionists often shun organ meats since they contain cholesterol, or in the case of liver, because toxicities can accumulate in the livers of all animals since the liver’s function is to clean the blood. Start with this site to read about the health benefits of cholesterol and why this maligned substance is essential for brain function and disease prevention. There, the author argues in his research that the culprit in cases blamed on cholesterol is actually oxidized polyunsaturated fatty acids (found in radically-processed vegetable oils which mainstream nutritionism claims are healthier than naturally occurring, unprocessed animal fats).
As for toxicities in liver, proper sourcing is key. Buy only organic, or even better, grass-fed livers. Then, even if there are some residual toxicities in the liver, the nutritional benefits (which are astounding) will vastly outweigh them.
Why eat liver? Liver is or has:
- 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.
- Source: The Liver Files
A little more from the liver files on the intriguing “anti-fatigue” factor in liver, which makes it an excellent choice for body-builders and athletes: In one study, three groups of rats were fed three different diets:
- A basic diet
- A basic diet with added B vitamins
- A basic diet with added liver
The rats were then placed in a tub of water they could not escape from. The times they swam before giving up (on average) were (respectively):
- 13.3 minutes
- 13.4 minutes
- One swam 63 minutes, one 83 minutes, one 87 minutes, and the rest were still swimming at the 2 hour mark, when the test was over.
Fascinating!! There are certainly many reasons why liver (and other organ meats) have been prized by traditional cultures for health, strength and vitality. If you’re worried about “too much vitamin A,” the same article linked to above also discusses this issue. The bottom line is:
- don’t take too much synthetic vitamin A; and
- you can safely consume two 4 ounce servings of liver every week to obtain its myriad health benefits without even approaching dangerous thresholds (and that’s lots of liver!!).
One last aspect of liver (and vitamin A) that I find fascinating is the impact of this extremely important nutrient on palate development in babies and children. A mother’s diet needs sufficient vitamin A for her baby’s palate to develop that beautiful dental arch and facial structure with high cheekbones seen in the people studied by Weston Price (check out one picture from this work over in my Food Philosophy post). Sufficient vitamin A also ensures excellent vision.
Without enough vitamin A, the palate is narrow, the teeth are crowded, and there are problems with the bite, which can affect a whole host of issues including breathing, IQ, and sleep. It amazes me that despite this existing research, some people still think that a mother’s diet or nutrient stores have little bearing on the development of her growing baby. And because of problems with vitamin toxicity from synthetic Vitamin A, pregnant women are warned not to eat liver, an extremely important source of nourishment for optimal fetal development in the first trimester. How sad!
Anyhow, this is certainly not everything there is to know about liver, or vitamin A. It’s just a few thoughts that have been percolating in my mind, and some sources I’ve been finding particularly interesting. If you have a favourite tidbit or source to share regarding liver or vitamin A, please comment with a link or your thoughts!!
In keeping with my goal of adding liver into our weekly fare, I decided to make some chicken liver pâté recently. It turned out brilliantly!! We really enjoyed it. The wine and mushrooms really make for a lovely flavour and texture. I followed the recipe in the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook (Coulson, 1980), which didn’t require any modifications in order to align with our dietary principles. If you have the cookbook, the recipe is on page 122, but I will walk you through it here. Chicken liver pâté is an excellent way to enjoy the benefits of liver without the ‘offal’ taste :) I am still working on getting a perfect recipe ironed out for beef liver, which has a much stronger taste.
Country Chicken Liver Pâté
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 pound chicken livers
- 1/3 cup minced green onion
- 1/2 pound mushrooms
- 1 medium garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/8 tsp. hot pepper sauce
- 1 tsp. unrefined sea salt
- In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook chicken livers in 1/4 cup of the butter with the green onions, mushrooms and garlic:
- Stir in the wine and hot sauce, and simmer the mixture for about 5 minutes.
- Cook until the livers are tender but still pink on the inside.
- Blend the mixture in a covered blender at low speed, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides. You can make the mixture as chunky or smooth as you prefer.
- Melt the rest of the butter, add to the liver mixture with the salt, blend well, and refrigerate, covered.
- This recipe makes 3 cups of pâté.
Any great links on liver to share? I’m always looking for new ways to prepare liver…and I find it fascinating to read about too.