Potatoes with bacon and liver is my sneaky solution to ensuring my family consumed adequate amount of this nutrient-dense, old-fashioned staple. Yes, I still love my Chicken Liver Pate, and my son consistently asks for Fried Chicken Livers, but, beyond these tried-and-true staples, I still struggle with putting liver on the plate regularly as I ought to.
That is, until I found this recipe for Potatoes with Bacon and Liver when I was visiting my friends Hannah and Alex who served it with broiled lamb chops, some greens and a glass of red wine. We loved it, and I’m sharing it with you now.
Why You Should Eat Liver
(and, no, it’s not a storehouse for toxins)
Now, it seems that every time I mention liver on the Nourished Kitchen Facebook Page, there’s an inevitable onslaught of squalls that go something like this: “But the liver is the body’s filter!” “I would never eat liver! It’s a storehouse for toxins!” “I love liver, but it’s too high in cholesterol to eat.” Now, it’s none of my business how you choose to eat or what you choose to eat, but I do want to set the record straight on liver.
Liver is one of the most concentrated sources of vitamins and minerals.
Liver is extraordinarily nutrient dense, and while kale might be the darling of the health food movement right now (and I still love to use kale in my recipes), liver offers more folate and more minerals than does kale, and is very much a nutritional powerhouse. It is one of the most concentrated sources of vitamins and minerals available to us, as liver is rich in vitamin A, riboflavin, vitamin B6, niacin, folate, vitamin B12 as well as minerals like iron, zinc, phosphorus, manganese and selenium. Consuming both antioxidant-rich plant foods and nutrient-dense animal foods provides a natural balance that is so often missing in Americans’ typically distorted relationship with food.
Its liver’s concentrated source of nutrients, particularly true vitamin A, folate and load of minerals that fosters the optimal nourishment for people across all ages and spectrums. This is why traditional peoples studied by Dr. Price in his landmark book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration often considered liver to be a sacred food (along with foods like shellfish, fish roe, bone broth and raw dairy), and emphasizing its importance for pregnancy, lactation and early childhood, and why it’s often considered to be a food for fertility. That’s the reason I also feature a liver recipe every few weeks in Nourished Kitchen’s meal plans.
Liver neutralizes, but does not store toxins.
The liver functions to neutralize environmental toxins as well as toxins we (or other animals) consume like antibiotics, pharmaceutical drugs and other potential toxins. While the liver functions to neutralize these toxins, they are not stored in the liver; rather, if they cannot be eliminated through the body’s waste functions, they’re likely to be stored in visceral fat.
One of the roles of the liver is to neutralize toxins (such as drugs, chemical agents and poisons); but the liver does not store toxins. Poisonous compounds that the body cannot neutralize and eliminate are likely to lodge in the fatty tissues and the nervous system. The liver is not a storage organ for toxins but it is a storage organ for many important nutrients (vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folic acid, and minerals such as copper and iron). These nutrients provide the body with some of the tools it needs to get rid of toxins.
– Lynn Rezaltis, the Liver Files
To avoid liver in an effort to avoid “toxins” is futile, as liver doesn’t store toxins and, in that effort, you’ll also be avoiding one of nature’s most concentrated source of nourishment. Further, all animal foods whether muscle meat, organ meat, bones for broth, or fat, are best when they come from healthy, grass-fed or pasture-raised animals.
How to Serve Liver So Your Kids Will Actually Eat It
In my experience, the idea of eating liver might be more off-putting than actually preparing, serving and consuming it. And while I won’t lie and tell you that liver is one of my favorite foods (it’s not), it can be delicious as in this recipe for Chicken Liver Pate or this one for Fried Chicken Livers. And if you or your children don’t care for liver, you can always blend it with ground meat as in this Pizza Chili or these Chicken Nuggets where other flavors help to disguise its characteristic mineral-like qualities.
In this recipe for Roasted Potatoes with Bacon and Liver, I simply grate about 2 ounces of frozen liver over the other ingredients. Those tiny flecks of liver disappear in an instant, blending with bacon and cheese. A good friend has visited our home frequently in the past couple weeks – helping me to work through the recipes of the upcoming cookbook, and she fed this recipe to her boys without telling them it contained liver (they couldn’t tell, either). When she told them, it contained liver, one of her boys asked, “Can we try liver in more ways like that?”
And if you’re convinced of liver’s benefits, but are still stumped as to how to prepare it, consider checking out the Nourished Kitchen Meal Plans which feature liver, and other nutrient-dense animal foods every few weeks.
Where to Find Grass-fed Liver
As with any ingredient, it’s important that you choose the best quality liver you can afford. Fortunately, liver is largely ignored (or abhorred) by most consumers, so it tends to be inexpensive compared to other cuts. For this reason, liver is an ideal addition for families on a very limited budget who want to eat well.
You can find grass-fed liver at your local farmers market, and it usually sells for anywhere from $2 to $8 a pound. If you cannot find it locally, you can always purchase grass-fed liver online.
What to Do If You Still Can’t Stomach Liver
If you still can’t stomach the idea of liver, and all the pates, mousses, meatballs, meatloafs, chilies and jalapeno poppers leave you breathless with anxiety, you can still emphasize liver for your family – reaping all its nutritional benefits without making it or serving it for dinner.
In addition to the occasional liver recipe that hits our dinner table, I also add liver capsules to our daily supplements (you can find them here). They’re small gelatin-based capsules filled with dessicated, powdered liver. Much like cod liver oil, it’s a whole food supplement – you can find out more about my take on supplements here (including which my family takes and which we skip).
Hearty and rustic, this recipe for Potatoes with Bacon and Liver is simple to prepare, and the typically assertive flavor of liver fades into the background.
- 2 pounds Russet potatoes
- 1 teaspoon butter or lard (learn how to render lard)
- 2 ounces bacon, finely chopped (order nitrate/nitrite-free bacon here)
- 2 ounces frozen beef liver, finely grated (order grass-fed liver here)
- 2 ounces grated cheddar cheese
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Place the potatoes in a large stock pot, cover them with water and boil them in their jackets until tender - about an hour. Drain off the water, allow the potatoes to cool until they're comfortable enough to handle, then peel them and cut them into 1/2-inch cubes.
- Heat the oven to 375 F.
- Melt the lard in a wide oven-proof skillet, then toss in the bacon. Render the bacon in the hot fat until it becomes crispy. Turn off the heat of the stove, add the potatoes to the pan, taking care to evenly distribute the rendered bacon among them. Stir in the finely grated liver, and the cheese.
- Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake it for 25 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh parsley, and serve.