Many of you have heard the phrase “Don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize.” Michael Pollan has said this, but so have countless other health and nutrition enthusiasts. It’s simple advice and it makes sense: most processed foods, like Doritos or Hostess cupcakes or flavored yogurt, were not around when our grandparents were young. They may have cooked with more butter and used heavy cream in more of their recipes, but let’s face it: they still ate much healthier than people do now. They ate whole foods, and were more likely to eat locally grown and produced foods because that was what was available to them. More meals were cooked at home, and kids were not eating fast food.
Last night Ed and I ate a dinner that our grandparents would definitely recognize: calf’s liver. My Nutrients teacher talks a lot about liver in class. She eats it often, and a few weeks ago she sent us her liver recipe. When Ed and I were at Denver’s indoor farmer’s market, we purchased a bag of frozen calf livers from a Colorado, grass-fed beef farm. Liver from a grass-fed calf is free from toxins and the best type of liver to consume. It provides more nutrients per gram than any other food that exists!
So, even though I’ve never tried calf’s liver and the thought of it was a little scary, I was completely convinced and even excited to try it after I learned all of these health benefits. The recipe is fairly easy but still full of flavor and it makes a great meal.
1 lb pastured beef or bison liver, sliced or cubed
1 large onion, chopped
1 large red pepper, seeded and sliced
1 slice pastured bacon, chopped (optional)
Handful of dried figs (about 10-15), stem removed, cut in quarters
½ juicy orange (or one whole lime – orange for a sweet taste, lime for a tart taste)
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Handful of pine nuts (optional – We used almonds because we didn’t have pine nuts)
½ tsp Celtic sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Dash of balsamic vinegar
2-3 tbs stable cooking oil – ghee, coconut oil, butter, etc.
Heat large sauté pan over medium heat. When hot add bacon and cook until tender (not crispy). Add ½ of the cooking oil – heat just to melt. Add onions and sauté until soft and translucent. Add red pepper, figs and pine nuts. Sauté until peppers are soft (not mushy), 5-6 minutes. Push vegetables to outside of pan leaving an empty hole in center.
Add the remaining oil. Melt and add liver. Cook until just browned through, maybe 3-4 minutes (it goes pretty fast, don’t over cook or it will become tough). Incorporate cooked liver with the vegetable/fig mixture. Squeeze orange or lime juice (catching the seeds) over the mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a dash of balsamic vinegar. Adjust seasoning to taste if needed. Stir another brief minute to incorporate flavors. Serve immediately.