Recipe: Chicken Livers and Bacon

In my quest to become as iron saturated as quickly as possible, I’ve been reading up on foods for the iron depleted. Chicken liver is tops in my book. Not only is it easy to find, but it’s also suprisingly low in calories (around 150 for four ounces raw; not that you’d actually eat it raw) and high in protein. But wait — there’s more. It’s off the charts in Vitamin A and offers a good natural source of Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 (the latter is useful for building up red blood cell count). Chicken liver is also dirt cheap, at least where I live: $1.99 a pound.

Some caveats: It’s very high in cholesterol, so you probably shouldn’t eat it more than once or twice a week. It’s also not safe to feed children and infants large amounts of liver as it can overdose them with Vitamin A. For the same reason, pregnant women should avoid it. Finally, the phosphorus in liver can impede calcium absorbtion, so time those liver meals carefully, or take a calcium supplement.

If you think of liver as resembling the rubbery remains of a shredded Michelin tire, then you haven’t had liver that’s been prepared properly. With the exception of pork liver (which I’ve never actually seen for sale anywhere), you can cook liver to the level of doneness you’d prefer in any other meat. In my house, that means rare-to-medium-rare. The result is a tender meat, slightly pink inside. For an extra shot of iron, cook liver in a cast iron skillet.

Here’s how I like to prepare chicken liver:

Chicken Livers and Bacon

Serves 4 restrained eaters, 3 hungry ones.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. raw chicken livers, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 5 slices of bacon
  • 8 oz. raw mushrooms, sliced or quartered
  • half cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp. light cream
  • 1 tsp. Chinese 5 spice powder
  • half tsp. ground ginger

To prepare:

  1. Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  2. Mix the two spices with raw chicken livers.
  3. Cut the bacon crosswise into half inch wide strips. Cook until chewy but not crispy. Drain on paper towels.
  4. Drain off all but 1 Tbsp. of bacon fat.
  5. Cook mushrooms for a couple of minutes, just before they start to “sweat.”
  6. Add chicken livers to pan and cook until they are mostly brown on outside, not pink.
  7. Add chicken broth and turn heat up to medium high. Add bacon pieces back to skillet.
  8. Check “doneness” by slicing into a piece of liver.
  9. When done, turn off heat and stir in cream.
  10. Serve immediately. It goes nicely over some brown rice, but it’s also fine by itself.
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