Have you ever tried to sneak liver onto your dinner table?
How did Katie know that I have had a package of liver frozen in my freezer for a couple months now, with no idea what to do with that thing? She’s given me hope that maybe, just maybe I could pull this off. Also, if you just don't think you'll make this and can't eat liver, at least take these desiccated liver pills so you can benefit from all the superfood nutrients! Here's Katie…
Kelly has mentioned previously that eating organ meats is so “un-American”. Brains, hearts, livers, intestines…these are the things we dissect in science class, not delicacies that ought to land on our dinner plates.
The French paradox:
The problem scientists see with the French being some of the most heart-healthy people on the planet in spite of their red meat, cheese, and wine consumption – is sometimes “blamed” on organ meats.
Folks of my generation and even a generation prior think of “liver and onions” as a meal to poke fun at, something that no one really eats anymore unless they lived through the Great Depression. Another generation back and “liver and onions” often comes with a strong memory of forced eating and great distaste.
Liver has a bad rap, so when you see advice to eat more of it because of its health benefits, it’s easy to simply “blip” over that page and move on to something more manageable. You convince yourself that you can find good sources of iron plenty of other places! However, If you’ve decided that you want your family to eat some organ meats, you may have to allow sneaky liver into your home.
Don’t tell my husband, but we had liver last week. Three times!
It all started with a gift certificate to a local meat store. When I saw liver was only 99 cents a pound after having just read that section in Nourishing Traditions, I recklessly grabbed a package. After arriving home, I realized I hadn’t a clue how I was going to get that liver out of the freezer and onto the table.
So there it sat for a few months, taunting me.
I finally decided I was going to have to make some sneaky liver. I was making beef stock for the first time ever, with bones from the same meat store, the recipe from NT and tips from this how to make homemade stock post of Kelly’s. I thought: Wouldn’t it make sense that if I tossed the liver in the stock, some of the power-packed nutrients from the liver would end up in the stock? I wasn’t having any success convincing myself that I would have a place to sleep if I served liver ‘n’ onions, so into the stock pot snuck the liver.
After sorting the bones and veggies out of the stock, I was left with some pieces of what I was pretty sure was cooked liver. It comes out kind of like…the sole of a tennis shoe, actually. I wouldn’t recommend it for its texture or color. Curiosity began to get the better of me, and I tasted it! Luckily curiosity didn’t kill the Katie. It’s not bad…but iffy at best, texture-wise.
Meal one: Beef barley soup with liver-enhanced stock
You won’t see that on a gourmet restaurant’s menu anytime soon, but the stock was delish!
I decided to sneak around with the liver a bit more. I chopped it in my food chopper until it was all the size of peas or smaller. My 10-month-old daughter, my accomplice in this sneak, asked for a piece and then asked for seconds. (Gotta start ‘em young!) I froze the sneaky liver in ice cube trays for future deception meals. You understand, of course, that I love my husband dearly and trust him implicitly, but that man has food standards, and organ meats aren’t among them.
Meal two: Spaghetti and meatballs
I tossed about a 2-inch-by-2-inch piece of liver, chopped finely, into the sauce with my homemade meatballs. They fall apart a bit, so unless you peered very closely and knew what you were looking for – cat food – you couldn’t tell there was anything odd about the meal. (Unfortunately, sneaking in two cubes of beets that my daughter won’t eat did affect the color a bit much. Magenta spaghetti, anyone?)
I looked for another meal to sneak the liver cubes into, and it began to be abundantly clear that there are many, many meals in which one or two cubes could accidentally appear.
Meal three: Turkey Chili Turkey Burgers
These rockin’ Rachel Ray burgers have chopped peppers, onion, chunks of cheese, and all sorts of spices in them. A cube or two of liver sort of snuck out of my freezer and into the mixing bowl. My poor in-laws never saw it coming…
I’m also going to sneak liver into tacos, casseroles, and smoothies. Just kidding. No smoothies. That’s what kale cubes are for.
If my family eats a pound of liver every month or so with this method, it’s a pound more than they would eat without it.
The liver cubes don’t really even need to thaw, because they’ll just fall apart in your meal dish pretty well. Also make sure you’re only buying liver from reputable sources, organic if at all possible. The hardest part is just remembering to use them in random meals.
Read my conversation with Kelly in the comments at this post for more details.
If you’re not ready for liver, my readers aren’t quite either! Kitchen Stewardship is a blog dedicated to helping people take Baby Steps to balancing care for the earth, nutrition, time and money. Please check it out if you’d like some easy steps to better health for your family and your earth.
If this is nothing for you, please share your tricks for getting liver and other organ meats into your kids…or your spouse…or yourself!
If you’re interested, find out more about guest-posting for the Kitchen Kop blog.
More you might like:
- My favorite desiccated liver pills
- The BEST beef liver recipe!
- More about organ meats
- You really CAN eat beef heart!
Sharyl Mart says
Umm, I think there would be no ‘sneaking’ this into any food. Pretty sure I would detect it. blech.
Jill-David Boman says
If you don’t add too much to ground beef (taco meat, meatloaf, meatballs, etc.) and season it REALLY well you really can’t tell! Also chicken liver is milder in flavor so that’s an even sneakier version to use.
Sharyl Mart says
Jill-David Boman might try it sometime. 🙂
Mary Ann Berning says
I take dessicated liver. That’s how I get liver down the hatchet..!! LOL
Alice Benham says
Doesn’t work for me, if it’s beef liver. I’m actually the one who can’t eat liver (it makes me gag, no matter how much I want to like it), and if it gets snuck into dinner I can detect it, and I still can’t eat it. Even if I’m not the one cooking that night! Beef liver, anyway. Chicken liver I can eat, sneak into things, etc.
Julee Davis says
I process liver or spleen very finely then add into my meat for meatballs, meat loaf, hamburgers. 🙂
Is it ok to thaw the frozen liver, then re-freeze it after grinding in the food processor? Thanks for any relpies.
Briana Barrett-Squirrel says
Io, Katie, Anna, re: calling it “liver” when they like it
At our preschool, we taught children to eat foods they were unfamiliar with (which is much harder for adults, because we think too much) but it was only for breakfast & snack, and liver never came up for some reason. However, I’d like to concur that honesty is very important… and follow it with a caveat/tip.
We chose the policy of being very honest about new foods, and tell the children that they were very brave to take “adventure bites.” When they knew that one bite was all we were requiring, they’d relax. We’d play the “hey, what happened?” game when more of their unfamiliar food went “missing” (into their happy mouths) and the whole things was fun. To get the first bite in, it especially helped when we told them that there are foods we don’t like, and we keep “trying them to see what’s good about them” because our bodies are always changing and needing new ingredients to keep growing and learning. Knowing even adults “try and see” helped to remove any ideas of “should” or “have-to,” and put it in the “matter-of-fact” category, which can be a huge factor in the first impression a food AND ITS NAME makes on us.
WHY LIVER HAS A BAD NAME: it “RING”s gross
The above tip was for introducing foods that the adults likes alright – not foods of which even the name reminded the teachers and the children that it’s dead animal (a tough concept for children!!). “Live”r sounds absolutely horrifying to a child, because it brings up images of life/death/something that might live on inside of you. Children know that such beings exist (see talk of parasites, further up) and their imagination is more powerful than their ability to ask discerning questions.
If you can’t say “liver” without a “charge” or the cultural stigma, that is, with the casual sound of “beef” or “tomatoes” …you’re putting it on the child to overcome that hesitancy. If you can’t truthfully infuse the word with the positive tone of “french fries” or “pizza” because it doesn’t tase very good to you, don’t fake it. They can tell. How to avoid the word without lying?
THE NAME DOESN’T MATTER
You can call it “zizzum” or make up a more normal-sounding word, and children will judge it for how it tastes. (You might want to warn your sister if she’s coming over)
Children are amazingly astute, and cultural stigma around a word like “liver” goes right into their imaginations and they try to justify why it sounds ‘bad.’ It’s also important to remember that their bad impression of the word “liver” can pre-exist; they can get it from one person one time on one innocent TV program or one visit with, like someone said, a suspicious aunt.
I say call it whatever, as long as they learn where to get liver and how much they love it by the time they’re not eating at your house anymore – but even better would be before anyone else serves them liver.
And the sooner they learn to say “I LOVE liver” (only if it’s true, of course) the sooner they help to undo the negative stigma the WORD has gotten.
The French have an amazing preschool menu / way of teaching children to love their senses through food and flavor from a VERY young age. (Of course, it’s easier to do when you, yourself went to such a culinary preschool.) I’d heard about it from a French preschool teacher, who learned how to flip scrambled eggs over in-the-air/using-only-the-pan (it came up because I was so impressed with myself for doing it that morning) she looked at me and said matter-of-factly: “my first time was in kindergarten.”
I was fascinated with the French food curriculum when I read about it in “Raising Up Bebe”
Briana Barrett-Squirrel says
Thanks for the article, and to all the commenters.
I forgot to say this article has really helped me, because I only woke up to the value of liver now that my husband of 2 years (I didn’t do it!) has shingles (so painful!! – the return of the chicken pox!!) Liver of chicken or lamb was recommended as a healing food. [sorry, I can’t find my source for that at this moment.] Hubbie doesn’t like the texture of chicken liver (I eat whatever). Mixing it in with red meat is not an option, as it was not recommended while dealing with shingles (same source).
I’ve been putting chicken livers into SCRAMBLED EGGS (which is not sneaky at all.) The color looks really bad, but it remedies his particular issue with it: texture.
Thanks for this blending tip!!! and for the health info. This article will keep us eating organ meats well after he’s healed.
Thanks for a perhaps life-changing article!
P.S. ON HUMILITY
I hope I didn’t come off know-it-all-ish in my earlier post – I have no kids of my own and have never fed anyone liver, and I have huge respect for parents, whether they manage ot get liver in or not.
I love teaching children ages 2-5, because I tend to have great intuition about what they are disturbed by and what they find fun. The name of LIVEr hadn’t been mentioned. I hope I helped someone out there!
“Adventure bites” – I love it!
Thanks for all these great posts about liver Kelly. 🙂 I remember eating liver and onions as a kid, and I have never had a cavity nor did I need orthodontia.
Despite having a WAPF diet now and breastfeeding for years, my kids do have some disappointing dental issues. 🙁 (I suppose it would be much worse if I hadn’t done the things I’ve done.)
Recently I’ve been determined to add more organ meats to our diet. Noone has mentioned scrapple – it’s available in every grocery store, and me and the kids love it! It tastes kind of like a sausage biscuit and has beef tongue, heart and liver in it. Woohoo!
Also, to piggyback on AnneMarie’s comments, we live liverwurst too. It’s yummy fried with butter and served with eggs.
Thanks again, I’m going to be adding liver to the diet much more with these great ideas. And yes, it does do a lot for my energy!
A question – do you know if anyone has just chopped frozen liver finely and swallowed it whole? Is that safe? I was considering buying liver pills the other day and realized I could save myself $50 just doing this. Thoughts?
Yes, I actually *have* heard of this a lot. I keep meaning to do it, thanks for the reminder!
So if you use the liver in the soup stock and simmer overnight, is there much nutrients still left in the liver after that or is it all in the stock??
I would guess it’s in the stock, but I’m not sure, sorry!
Teri Ensslin says
The taste for liver will grow on you! I hated it the 1st few times but kept on trying it, and now I love it. I also 2nd Martha: it’s best absolutely fresh. In fact, since it thaws so quickly, I thaw it in the lemon juice for a couple hours, and it’s much yummier than liver that’s thawed in the fridge overnight.
Hi Lourdes! Thank you for jumping in with a good liver recipe to try. With all that starch, I’m sure to like that one. 🙂
I am from Cuba, but I have been here 50 yrs now, and reading this blog make me think how long its been since I had liver.
The way we used to eat it is, you saute onions and green peppers chopped in a pan with olive oil, then you cut the liver in squares of 1/2 ” and added to the pan, until the liver is cooked or looses the dark color, but don’t overcook it.
Then in another pan you fried a potato cut in squares the same size as the liver, until they are golden brown. And when the liver is done and you put it in a dish and topped it with the golden potatoes, and you eat it over rice.
And I forget the salt and pepper, and if you want you can add garlic to the liver also.
Alex, yes, you are crazy, but also very LUCKY that you love it! 🙂 Wow, think how healthy you and your girlfriend will be into old age with this superfood in your diets!!!
I love liver. But I’m crazy. Ever since I read the study done on rats who ate liver, I’ve wanted to eat as much pasture fed organic liver as I can get my hands on.
The rat study is here, under the heading “Anti-Fatigue Factor”:
Lucky my girlfriend grew up eating liver so I don’t have to ninja-chop her to get her to eat it 😀
In Alaska, we do not have problems like that with our game meat. Bear or moose.
I put the blame squarely on Monsanto for screwing up the wild game, especially in warmer climates.
And, I must side with your husband.
Freezing for 14 days is tha answer to not “catching” the parasites if you are wanting to eat raw liver. That or cooking fully.
However, if its real bad, then no one is going to force you to eat it.
Feel free to ask me any other question you may have.
Mary, I don’t know if Paula has email notifications on, so I emailed her asking if she could answer your question, since I’m no help with that one at all!
I have a question for Paula re Moose liver. Does it have flukes like deer? My husband has assured me that after freezing and appropriate amount of time, the parasites can no longer live. He has also assured me that they are not harmful to humans. But after he dissected a deer liver a few years ago, I think we are both too grossed out to use it even after freezing. He posted a photo of three of these critters on his blog if any one is interested. You have to scroll down; he had a lot of different stuff in his post that day. https://theabrahamsons.blogspot.com/2006/11/long-week-sorry-kristi.html
Thanks Kelly for the broth and grinding then sneaking ideas. I have several packages of beef liver in my freezer. My husband likes it and so he fixes it periodically. I only take a bit to set a good example for the kids. I can hardly stand to gag it down without grimacing. But I always feel bad I can’t make better use of it.
I really appreciated lo’s comments and second her thoughts on ‘sneaking.’ Sneaking (or just adding?) to a point for nutritional value (and perhaps more for ourselves tastewise), but I firmly believe our reaction (not only with food, but that is another can of worms) is more influential with our kids than the name. Now granted I also believe in starting early (which doesn’t always work if the adult(s) are having a change of heart), but what does a two year old care if what he is eating is called liver? Although he may mind the taste/texture for which I think this post has great suggestions. I do appreciate the post for nutritional inhancement ideas and maybe a little texture hiding 🙂
Thanks for the thoughtful reply regarding “sneaking”… I think I’ve been hardened by too many articles geared toward feeding children that insinuate that kids won’t eat anything healthy unless they’re duped 🙂 (NOT TRUE!) I didn’t figure that was the case here — but it never hurts to ask.
My husband’s mom fed them liver for the first time by giving it a different name. She cut it into strips and called it “little meats”… at first everyone was fooled, and they ate the little meats with relish. Well — they all ate with relish until his sister took a bit and asked innocently, “Mom — is this… liver??” Immediately the forks went down and the mouths clamped shut. I’ve had a VERY hard time convincing P to eat liver as a result.
I do think that adding liver inconspicuously to dishes is a good idea… and I must admit I often do it myself. I add greens to soup and carrots to my tomato sauce. Not to “fool” anyone, but to UP the nutritional profile. But, I often wonder where the fine line is between innocent intention and deception.
Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship says
The guest post-er is chiming in…
Thanks so much to Kelly for the opportunity to guest post – as a new blogger, it’s super fun to see so many comments on my ideas!
Anna, you answered just about how I would have for lo’s question. My son is only four, so he actually wouldn’t know liver from pork. It’s my husband – and myself! – who wouldn’t get over the taste and texture. I did actually let it “slip” to hubby that there was liver in the third meal. He’s a good sport, as long as the food still tastes good. Thanks for pointing out the whole dishonest thing…do I have to go to Confession for sneaking around with liver, I wonder? 😉
Anna, thanks too for pointing out the French as “less unhealthy than Americans”. Very good point.
Someday I hope to try actually cooking liver – like french fries sounds like a place to start! But for now, it’s just sneaking into our diet at our house!
Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship
Megan, yes, frying in in bacon fat is a good way to cook it!
lo, I agree with you and Anna. I wouldn’t want to sneak forever, but early on, I’m all for it! A couple of our kids are really picky (like…oh, I don’t know…OK, like ME!), and would never willingly give it a try!
I tend to side with you on the honesty vs. sneaking with the food, because I want my son to grow up knowing what he’s eating.
But there’s an in-between point, I think. Too much honesty can sabotage the best laid plans too early. So I often practice a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when I am introducing something new or even tiptoeing into a new food myself. Quietly adding chopped liver or other new potentially mutiny-causing food items in small amounts to an otherwise favorable food, is a soft introduction. That way when my kid kid reacts with “liver? eeeeuuuuwww! I’d never eat it”, I can say in a matter of fact way, “huh, but you love xyz, you even ask for it, and that has liver/kidney/heart/or whatever in it.”
I have been wanting to try liver in our meals, and this is just the inspiration I needed as I’m not sure I would like it either!
Thanks to your reader for all the great tips on “sneaking” liver into recipes.
We’ve already done the beef heart/ground beef with success, so this should work too!
Interesting article — and I’m all about eating more healthfully and reincorporating “lost” foods like liver into my diet. I ate liver & onions as a child (my mom was a huge fan), but I’ve yet to continue the tradition in my own home. We buy mostly organic meats, and I haven’t located a good source for liver … yet.
I realize that it’s not always easy, but I’m an advocate for being honest about food in every way possible. This means talking to our kids about what we’re eating, rather than sneaking. Sneaking anything into food seems counter-intuitive to me, especially if we’re teaching our future generations about health, nourishment, and tradition.
I’m not really interested in arguing a point… but I am interested in your perspective on this.
Nope…I don’t think I could sneak it in because I would know…haha!
Great tips! Love the idea of the chopped frozen cubes for adding small amounts on a regular basis.
The only thing I question is the notion that ” the French being some of the most heart-healthy people on the planet”. France DOES have a lower heart disease rate than many other industrial countries, including the US, despite the high smoking prevalence of smoking and white flour use (and of course, the saturated fat intake, but we know that isn’t the problem it’s reputed to be). But there are plenty of other countries with far better CVD and health stats than France. They still have modern degenerative diseases at rates that can be considered too high, even if the rates look good compared to ours. I look at France as just “less unhealthy” than the US.
Jenny @ NourishedKitchen says
I need this for ME, not DS! That kid will eat it but I can only choke it down if it’s disguised in something else.
Jenny @ NourishedKitchen
Great guest post Katie! Very inspiring, and something we’ve been doing for a while now.
Now, to find a good source for organic beef liver . . . the hunt begins!
Great post ladies- great ideas!
I have been a liver sneaker too! I have ground it into ground beef and turkey and made meatballs. BBQ meatballs won the most favor and they couldn’t even taste it!
You can also chop it up or grind it up and use in brown rice with onions and peppers, and other seasonings.
But- believe it or not- I have 6 kids, and at least half of them will gobble it up simply breaded and fried, sorta like KFC does it! 🙂
Liver cubes! Yes, this is exactly how I’ve managed to sneak liver into our diets. Granted, we’re not getting a tremendous amount, but it’s better than zero. 🙂 I bought a pound of organic liver from the health food store and let it thaw partially. Then I cut it up and put it in the blender with about 1/2 c. water. Off to the ice cube trays next! When I remember, I slip a cube (or two, but better with one depending upon the recipe as I don’t want to taste it at all!!) into a ground beef/bison dish and no one knows!! It’s mildly exhilarating. 🙂 The only other way I’ve managed to sneak liver into our diets is through the U.S. Wellness Meats Braunschweiger. Incidentally, every person in this family takes it wonderfully this way; I, on the other hand, have to admittedly turn off my taste buds when consuming. 🙂
~Julie L. 🙂
Meatballs… what an ingenious idea. I made meatloaf last night and 3-out-of-4 of us liked it, so maybe I could make some meatballs on the side for #4.
“Also make sure you
Thank you Katie and Kelly! I had no idea how to grind my liver, and since I purchase it already frozen, I wasn’t sure about thawing and refreezing it. I will definately throw some in my next batch of beef stock and then chop it for future use.
My dad loves liver and onions. My mom stuck a clothespin on her nose to cook it for him when they first got married. She learned to like it herself after a while. I hated it as a child, but liked it the first time I tried it following the NT recipe. It is very important not to cook it too long and to have liver that isn’t too old.
We loved liver growing up! My mom would slice it into french fry-like strips and then shake it up with some flour, salt and pepper. She would cook some bacon and then onions and then cook the liver in the bacon fat. We would then eat the liver, onions, and bacon with ketchup and when my sisters were little, they would eat the liver like french fries. Not sure if this is the healthiest way to eat liver (I’m still learning), but it definitely made it a favorite meal in our house!
I just had a friend of mine come over and she cooked the liver with onions with a little organic unbrominated flour in butter in a cast iron skillet. I was happy I didn’t hate it. I actually ate a pretty good size piece(thin). My three year old son at it with no problem. I was shocked! I think I will be sneaking it in next. I really was looking for a post like this!
You’ve inspired me to start sneaking.
Personally, I love liver – always have. Beef liver with bacon is especially good. Yumm!
But – hubby doesn’t like it – so a sneaking I will go! 🙂
It can be hard to get because the farm where I buy beef liver sells out FAST! But I am getting more acquainted with chicken liver. Fortunately I’ve found a farm stand with organic beef liver & they don’t have a bunch of liver crazed people buying them out on the first day like the other place.
Local Nourishment says
I loved the taste of liver and onions as a kid. My mom cooked it very quickly and just barely done, not to the shoe-leather stage. But when we got married, hubby said “No WAY!” the first time I tried to serve it. I’ve snuck it into just about anything that uses a tomato-based sauce, but in very small portions, usually 1/4 cup for the eight of us. I’ve never had any questions or complaints. The key is to cook it when hubby first leaves to play golf, air out the house and hide it deep in the freezer!
Thanks for submitting this to my healthy recipes blog carnival! I happen to love liver and onions, but for those who don’t, these are great ideas for sneaking liver into your diet!
You know, I grew up eating liver and onions about once a week. None of us kids loved it, but we got to have it with ketchup and that was a selling point. My only real issue with it now is that I really wish someone else would cook it for me — looking at it freaks me out a bit!
Lisa Sargese says
I just ordered LiversWorth pudding from my local organic farmer. I have NO idea what to expect! I was hoping for liverwurst but who knows? I’ll use your suggestions. Thanks!
All our organ meats go into the grind meat.
I have exceptional tastebuds, and I gag everytime I taste liver.
Except for when its in the grind meat.
Heart and liver. Although the liver cannot go throught the grinder, due to its texture.
I put it though my food processor, and then handmix it into the meat and heart mixture before packaging it.
This ensures we get a serving of organ meats every week, and we never taste the liver.
Did you know that heart is very sweet? Thats partly why you do not taste the liver.
And did you know that the heart of a moose is the size of a basketball?
It makes the grind meat stretch much further.
[email protected] says
Very clever! I have to admit, liver has been the ONE food I have never been able to eat. This gives me something to think about.
[email protected] Beauty and Bedlam says
It brings back so many memories reading this post because I grew up having to eat liver because it was so good for me. My mom would make it all the time and I haven’t tried it since childhood. I may need to rethink it. :)thanks for linking to Tasty Tuesday.
[email protected] Beauty and Bedlam