Bits and PIeces

One of the commitments I’ve made to myself since I started eating Paleo/Primal is that I should include organ meats more often, and I’ve come from a standard “Ew” to a “At least every two weeks”. It definitely helps that I can buy pastured lamb liver for about $2.00 a pound.

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However, I actually do not know many ways to cook liver. So I decided to “combine it” this time. I cooked the liver in coconut oil, having seasoned it with salt, pepper and thyme, until it was cooked but not leathery, and then mixed it (including the grease from the pan) with greens that included kale, spinach and arugula. The result was a warm salad that could be eaten right there, or saved in the fridge for later consumption (in my case, as lunch).
I wanted to talk a bit about the trick of cooking liver (although I don’t have more pictures of liver being cooked). I’ve found that the best way to cook it is to fry it in butter or coconut oil, which had to be pre warmed to a decent temperature. I’ve never done it but apparently a good trick is to introduce a chopstick (wood) in the oil and if it bubbles, is ready. And when you are frying it, first you have to wait for a while – let’s say, three to five minutes; then flip it, wait a bit more, and THEN start moving it. Why? Well, liver is soft, so its outer portion can burn even if the inside is not cooked yet. Moving it prevents it from burning, but it allows it to finish cooking – after all, we don’t want a bloody liver. And yes, always try and split a piece just to make sure that the liver is cooked through. I usually like to keep it cooking for 30 seconds after seeing it cooked just to ensure everything is cooked (and not just that one bit).

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Thrift shopping

I’ve said that sometimes it can be frustrating to cook with some of my family’s cookbooks, since they tend to have ingredients that are not readily available. Sometimes the opposite happens, and the books honor their titles: And food was done… cheaply. This liver dish was less than five ingredients and I had all of them already in hand, so how much did I spend? NOTHING.

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I started with a lamb liver that I got at the Farmer’s Market a while ago and been sitting there in my freezer. I sliced it up thinly (relatively) and also chopped some onions.

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Fried the onions first in some coconut oil, and then added the liver.

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When all the exteriors looked cooked and not raw, I added some bay leaves and a cup of white wine, and let it cook for a while, until almost all the wine evaporated.

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Not even one dime spent, and the plates were cleaned up afterwards. By people who had sworn to me that they would never eat liver.

Burning down da house

What’s a guy to do when he doesn’t find the right ingredients to cook? Burn the ones he did have!!!!!

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Well, not really. I wanted to do Grilled Berber Liver, but I needed suet for that, and between a debacle about the pronunciation of the word and phone calls to all the grocer stores in Boulder I ended up with… nothing, since apparently none of them carries suet. Not even Lucky’s, and they are supposed to carry this kind of stuff. So I revisited my books to find another recipe and found this pan seared liver. Now, caveat: this recipe has alcohol, vermouth and whiskey, which might drag it away from the puritan Paleo (or Whole30). However, since it is burned away I decided to stick with it.

20120904-165100.jpgFirst step is to brine the liver for at least thirty minutes, to extract most of the blood. You want to do this because you don’t want the blood clotting when you sear it. Or maybe you do, I don’t know.

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While that happens is a good moment to slice some onions and some mushrooms.

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First step is to sear the liver: in a really hot skillet you put enough coconut or avocado or grapeseed oil (high smoking points) and when it’s really hot, you put the filleted liver, one or two fillets at the time (you don’t want to crowd the pan) for a minute or two each side, right now we are not cooking, just searing.

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In the same skillet with more oil we brown the onions and the mushrooms, until soft. Then we add the meat again.

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We cook for a bit, and then we add the whiskey and the vermouth, half a cup each. First the vermouth, and we let it simmer; then the whiskey and we set it on fire.

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After all the alcohol is burned out (no more fire in the pan) I thickened the sauce with some crème fraîche.
This recipe is from Georgia Pellegrini’s Girl Hunter, a deliciously written adventure through Hunting America, and cooking the game you’ve hunted. The original recipe called for Deer Liver, I used lamb (what I had in hand).

Black Sauce Liver

Liver!

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I know, I know, most people hear or see liver and they panic. I used to do it, too! But honestly, liver is not bad at all, it can actually be pretty awesome! So far I’ve eaten lamb, calf and beef liver, each one stronger than the previous one. While I’ve found lamb liver to be the most palatable, the calf liver paté is pretty awesome with nut crackers.

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Today’s recipe is lifted from the book “Secretos de la Buena Cocina”, a cooking book published in Mexico by Reader’s Digest. My grandma (R.I.P) got it and wrote notes in lots of the recipes, so I consider this my grandma’s cookbook. I got it as a present from my grandpa before I moved to Boulder.

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We start by chopping the liver, bite sized pieces, and sprinkling it with salt and pepper. LOTS of salt and pepper. Like, I almost run out of pepper again lots of pepper. And salt.

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Then we make the crust. The original recipe calls for flour and thyme. I usually just substitute the flour for almond flour but this time I had to use almond meal and basil, since I was out of the two. We coat all the liver with the crust. I’m usually pretty liberal about the amount of crust I prepare, since I like my liver well coated with herbs.

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The trick with liver (and any organ meat, except for brains, those have special preparations) is to cook it through. In this case I fry it in butter for a long time, at least seven minutes. I prefer to overdo it a little bit, so it’s soft and easy to eat inside, rather than barely done and stringy.

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We remove the liver, and in the same pan (remove the remnants of crust if you want) we put some water to boil, not too much. We add butter, and let it melt, low fire. When melt, we remove from fire and add aminos. I thought I had bought coconut aminos but I ended up buying the Bragg soy ones, which are not paleo but I use them so little I’m not sure it matters. Coconut aminos are best. I f you are interested, the original recipe calls for Worcestershire sauce, so if you have a paleo substitute that can go as well.

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I like to strain the sauce.

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I serve it in a bowl, with parsley for garnish, and since it’s in bite sized pieces I eat it with chopsticks!

The shout out of the day is to my grandma’s cookbook. The original book is old. Way old, and probably out of print. If you can find it it’ll be at a second hand store. It’s worth it.