In my quest to become fearless in the kitchen, I’ve decided I’m going to give organ meats a try, starting with liver. I have no idea how to cook organ meats or how they taste, but I’m spending part of the day flipping through Julia Child’s Mastering The Art Of French Cooking. Her recipes are simple and easily turned low carb by substituting almond flour with wheat flour.
But mainly I’m reading Julia to build up my courage.
Why Organ Meats?
I’ve read in different books that mentioned how our ancestors ate all parts of an animal, but specific parts were more desirable than others. Eyes and organs were preferred over muscle meat (what we eat today).
Organ meats are nutrient powerhouses and liver is one of the best. Nutrients include high amounts of A, multiple B vitamins, folic acid (awesome for someone like me in the early stages of IVF treatments), iron, cooper, iron, and C0Q10, important for cardiovascular function. Take that multivitamins!
Don’t Fear The Organs…
I think I had 2 issues with organ meats: the toxin myth and the “ick” factor.
For me, the toxin argument is just plain weak. While organs like the liver and kidneys do filter toxins, there is a myth that they store them. They don’t. What they do store are a ton of nutrients, which help bodies (animal and human) filter the toxins out via the GI track (i.e., poop!).
However the “ick” factor is strong with me. All my life I’ve enjoyed muscle meat. That’s pretty ingrained in me. But liver, kidney, or “sweetbreads” (pancreas)? Really?
But the more I learn about food and nutrition, the more I’m convinced I need to add these cuts of meat to my diet.
Except For These…
The two organs I won’t go near — brain and intestines. I’m sure brain is awesome, but the idea of Mad Cow Disease freaks me out. Chances are I’ll never get it by eating brain. But I know I never get it by not eating brain.
As for intestines, I remember growing up in Detroit and our family get-togethers where grandparents, aunts and uncles would clean and cook chitlins all day long. Actually the strongest memory was the smell. Oh lord how terrible. Nothing tasty could smell so bad in my book. In fact, my family smothers chitlins in hot sauce. I love hot sauce, but smothering food in it kicks my Spidey senses into high gear and tells me to avoid it at all costs.
So for now I’m trying liver — calf, chicken and duck. Rather than making the traditional liver and onions or a foie gras I’m going to sneak the food into other dishes first. This weekend I’m making a low carb chili con carne. A perfect dish to add in calf liver with the ground beef.
My greatest challenge isn’t sneaking liver into our food. It’s finding the liver. I’m starting to see liver in my local grocery store. I’m not sure if it is a response to the Paleo movement or if state laws have changed. My grocery store recently added a small “game” section in the meat department that includes cuts of venison, wild boar, bison, duck and goose. Occasionally liver pops up there.
But my local butcher shop (about 20 miles away!) does offer liver, tripe, kidney, sweetbreads and offal. That may be my best bet for fresh and young liver.
Are organ meats part of your healthy diet?