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.

It’s official: I’m completely effed up

I dutifully forwarded the last two weeks’ worth of SportTracks logs to Coach Kevin and got a reply shortly thereafter (I’m paraphrashing): “You are really messed up! Stop training right now.”

I’ve known my running was rapidly going from bad to worse, with the abysmal 8 mile race on Sunday being the cardiac Klieg light. But it was helpful to have a third party confirm this, with exclamation points.

It’s probably this iron/vitamin deficiency business, but there’s also a chance of some kind of weird overtraining effect at work. So I was told to run very easy this week, 3-5 mile sessions at most. Since I’m a woman of extremes (which is what got me into this mess in the first place), I’m going to up the ante by not running at all this week.

In the meantime, I’m huffing 27mg of Ferrochel, 1,000 mg of Vitamin C and 4,000 mg of Vitamin D on a daily basis. And rediscovering the pleasures of chicken livers, leafy greens and roasted pumpkin seeds. The cast iron cookware is getting a good workout too.

Now we wait and watch. I’m awaiting whatever modified training plan I’m to start on next week. Then we’ll set up some sort of pace vs. HR workout to do as a baseline for evaluating how I’m doing over the coming weeks.

This is so frustrating. I feel as though now, rather than spending the summer in preparatory mode for marathon training in the fall, I’m instead going to be just trying to get back to where I was in April, before things when all pear-shaped and running a 7:30 mile became a huge challenge.

The fact that something like this has happened probably shouldn’t surprise me so much. When I look back over my training, I realize that I’ve been working very hard and running at high mileage now — at least for a newcomer to competitive running — for two years, pretty much without a break. If I ever wondered what my limits were, at least in training, now I know.

It’s better than being injured, I suppose. But it still sucks.

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