Lost Wells Cattle Company- Beef Liver

May 01, 2015

Bobby and Brendan Thoman raise all-natural beef on their family ranch northwest of Riverton, Wyoming. These brothers follow an impressive mineral and intensive grass-fed grazing program, which makes for naturally healthy and nutrient-dense beef as an end-product. See more information about their beef operation at their website: http://lostwellscattle.com

The Thomans offer a variety of beef cuts, but this week they are selling their high-quality beef liver.  The price for members is $4/lb. DSC00317Lost Wells Cattle- Beef Liver1.53 lb Liver

 

Please read the following article by holistic veterinarian Will Winter for the low-down on the health benefits of liver and Will's advice on preparation.  

 

How to Cook Liver for Liver-Haters...and WIN them Over!
 
                                                                          by Will Winter,DVM
 
 Liver? OMG! Run!!  If a chunk of liver could be a movie star, which if you have seen Toy Story, isn’t too much of a stretch, I’m thinking Mr. Liver would look like the beat-up young boxer Rocky Balboa, the big ol’ muscle-bound, gruff-speaking galoot with a heart of gold. Let’s face facts here, liver has been given a bad rap! Maybe only the twin table turn-offs,  Limburger cheese and lutefisk, have a worse food reputation. As you will soon see, Mr. Liver is usually served fresh, and therefore has nothing to do with these two fermented products, but I digress. At the risk of being a spoiler, this story has a happy ending!  In the end, and after ten hard rounds of getting savage punches and body blows, Rocky triumphs over the bad guys. Yay! let’s hear it for Mr. Liver, I mean, Rocky, no wait, I mean Mr. Liver!!! And, yes, I really do want Mr. Liver to win his way back to your table and to your heart as well.  
 
 
If you didn’t immediately freak out and if you are still reading along, I want you to know that I feel rather qualified to tell this story because I consider myself a specialist in getting liver-hating people to eat and enjoy liver! I will admit right here and now, though, that I know that I have my work cut out for me. So many people have been turned into haters that it really is a health and culinary tragedy. Many are so hardened and jaded they won’t even try my liver recipe even once, but this story is for those who might consider meeting me an inch or two closer than they were before. 
 
 Fortunately, I was never among the haters, I grew up in a farm family where wild game and all sorts of cuts from homegrown meats found their way to our skillet and table. Usually my dad and my uncles would compete to see who could be the first to snatch the tasty odd bits off the platter.  Luckily for me, both my parents were excellent home cooks as well, so we ate very well. My mother is still cooking at 97, she takes no prescriptions and will join me in admonishing you to “eat your liver!”
 
It’s my theory that there are two main reasons for the bad reputation liver has achieved. I’m talking to you now, liver-haters…. First of all, 99% of the liver being cooked in homes, and especially in restaurants, is wretched, deservedly-smelly and toxic. This is because it is almost always liver from confinement animals. That stuff could actually damage your health and I wouldn’t blame you at all for hating it.  Secondly, and equally problematic, I’ll bet that your mom has been cooking it all wrong! You will soon see how the cooking part can be easily cured. Lastly, and as if these are not reason enough, why would anyone (except a hater) curse a noble category of nutritionally-healing meats as “offal”?  What a travesty. I say we start calling organ meats “delicacies” or maybe just “num-nums”, who knows? 
 
All you liver-haters have plenty of company, many of you even make gagging sounds and gestures when someone mentions the very word. I work for one of the largest and best 100% grass-fed gourmet beef producers in the US, Cannon Falls, Minnesota’s very own Thousand Hills Cattle Company. In our local processing plant, we document the demise of liver lovers of the world. Liver’s reputation, mostly from the widely-circulated and erroneous myths, has turned off so many of our beef customers that we currently send the majority of our incredibly wholesome and tasty grass-fed liver into various raw pet food recipes. Oh, those lucky dogs and cats! They are getting our best delicacies!  So, it’s been my mission to correct this miscarriage of justice. You have been patient long enough so here's the secret:
 
HOW TO COOK LIVER FOR LIVER-HATERS
 
Absolute Rule #1:  You have to start with good liver! I'm going to aggravate some readers here, but you gotta call a spade a spade: I recommend that one avoid eating all feedlot liver, which is pretty toxic in all ways!. In fact, liver-haters will quickly remind you that, “hey, the liver is just a big bag of poisons, toxins and heavy metals”. Well, there’s some truth to that, but what if you kept those toxins out of the animal in the first place? We call that organic husbandry. Secondly, the liver does indeed “store” things, but, most of all, the liver stores good things, it stores fat-soluble vitamins, minerals and other tasty nutrients. The good guys vastly outweigh the bad guys too.  Ever wonder why cod liver oil is such a valuable medicine?  More about all this good news later.
 
Grass-fed or calf liver is almost always the best. Try for "organically-raised" or "beyond organic" if possible. Also “pastured pork”  liver is fantastic and it is very mild-flavored.  If you can find it, also try healthy lamb and goat liver. These animals are typically killed when very young, which means a sweeter, more-tender and more-delicious eating experience. When you buy liver, examine it carefully. It should be smooth as glass,  dark colored, a deep purplish red, it should have sharply-defined edges and a distinct firmness, not mucky or crumbly (ick), but not hard as a rock either. Avoid liver with yellow spots or blotches, and be particularly careful about poultry liver which is almost always yellowish. Don’t eat yellow snow or yellow liver! Birds that are truly free-range have dark, healthy and delicious liver. 
 
Here’s something that you probably didn’t know, the so-called “liver smell” that so many liver-haters are quick to point out, is actually not really liver! This foul odor is from the out-gassing of poisons, toxins and excess bodily waste products of commodity feedlot animal liver, these poor livers are actually slowly becoming necrotic (dying) as well.  No wonder people hate it. The liver of animals raised in this manner is so filled with toxins that most are in a state of pre-death just before they are harvested. As any chronic alcoholic is doomed to discover, the liver, which is the hardest-working organ in the body, takes the heat for an abusive lifestyle. 
 
All feedlot cattle, most dairy animals, and confinement hogs or birds, due to the push of excess grain, have a chronic condition known as hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver syndrome). Yes, I know, I just described foie gras, which almost deserves it’s own chapter, but let’s just say that I’m not here to recommend the typical foie gras to your plate either. Confined animals are usually more exposed to manure and  bad air as well.  You don't want to be eating it. If the animals are on antibiotics, wormers, insecticides, hormone implants or other drugs, guess where these drugs are concentrated? On the other hand, liver and other organ meat from deer, elk or moose is extremely delicious and nutritious if it's harvested and field-dressed properly. Never waste it. Even liver from trophy-sized animals is usually delicious. 
 
Cooking Tip #2  Cut it into very, very thin strips, I mean like 1/3" thick, maybe 1/2", and only a few inches long. Be sure to de-vein if there are some large ones (this step is for neophyte eaters only). N.B. If you are trying to make converts...cutting the liver into fine strips is the most important part of my story.   
 
Cooking Tip #3  Roll the wet strips in flour until covered   Optional: roll in raw egg first to create an extra-crispy crunchy KFC crust- I don't do this myself but it is delicious!  Also Optional: If you don't know the actual source of your liver (not a good thing, but sometimes necessary) you can pre-soak your liver in fresh milk for about 20 minutes which is said to help detoxify it and make it taste better. Easy and simple. 
 
Cooking Tip #4  In a skillet with a bit of bacon grease or lard, caramelize some onions, that means cook them until they are translucent then put them aside.
 
Cooking Tip #5  Fry the floured liver strips quickly in a cast-iron skillet with about 1/3-1/2" of very hot lard or bacon grease. If the grease doesn’t sizzle furiously when the strips are added it wasn’t hot enough.  For liver-haters, cook it almost well-done, for the rest of us, rare or medium-rare is ideal. Optional:  I like to add fresh crushed garlic (or minced garlic from a jar) to the lard before I fry the liver). This is good for your own liver and digestion,  plus it adds an amazing flavor. Seasalt and fresh-ground black pepper are nice additions as the liver fries. 
 
Cooking Tip #6  Spoon the fried onions over the top of the right-out-of-the-skillet liver and serve hot.  Optional: I love rare liver cooked this way, then served with a dollop of fresh horseradish, yum!  A good SIDE DISH to liver is a helping of sweet potatoes or yams drenched in butter. 
 
The obvious secret of chefs everywhere is that everything tastes great when breaded and fried in lard! Ha ha.   Making the strips thin is key for neophyte liver eaters. 
 
WHY SERVE LIVER
 
  Liver is one of the most important "super foods" of the world! We need to eat this powerful food. Again, it must be from drug-free, free-range non-toxic animals. Since it’s also super-concentrated we don’t need it every day, just one good meal a week is perfect.  Children need to eat liver even more than adults. Get them started on liver very young, like 2-3 years of age.  We would be hard-pressed to find anything healthier to put into our bodies. So, try to eat one good meal of liver every week, home-cooked is best, I don't trust the average restaurant. When I’ve cooked liver in this manner for guests I’ve actually had them reaching across the stove only to start gobbling it hot right out of the skillet and dripping with grease! Their body deficiencies are so profound they will consume a pound of it or more, without any other side dishes. I quite often crave it and have been know to have eaten it like this as well. 
 
By the way, the less one cooks liver, the better the nutrition and flavor. Over-cooking destroys nutrients in all foods. When recuperating from a serious chronic illness, auto-immune problems, or when detoxifying, one of the best ways to get healthy is to add raw liver to any blender drink. The liver of a healthy animal, contrary to popular belief is not a "bag of poisons", it's the organ in the body that stores vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and other powerful nutrients. Polar bear liver is the only species of liver that you cannot ever eat. Why? There is so much Vitamin A stored in it that one tiny serving can be fatal. The Innuits know this and will not eat it. The polar bears live at the top of an oceanic food chain of vital foods and therefore concentrate it like no other animal. 
 
WHY FRY IN LARD

 

There are only 4 cooking oils that will hold up under fry heat, LARD, TALLOW, COCONUT and PALM.  These are good oils, in spite of what the politically-correct doctors try to tell us. The so-called “vegetable” oils (they are not really from vegetables!), canola, soy, corn are the most prevalent, will breakdown quickly under heat. Don't heat butter either, it is quite fragile under heat. Butter is fine for lightly cooking, for example, eggs under low heat, but nothing more.  The now-popular vegetable oils are also all GMO products and they are all loaded with the inflammatory Omega 6.  Saturated fats are the only way to go, we need them in our diet. Heart attacks and even strokes were virtually unheard of before Crisco and Margarine came into the American diet. Crisco is a made-up word that stands for “Crystallized (hydrogenated) Cottonseed Oil”, a waste product that clever marketers turned into "pure white" death in a can. All the solid oils except pure virgin coconut and palm are hydrogenated, a terrible killer hidden within processed food. Unless you know the source of the lard, be careful because grocery store lard is usually hydrogenated and therefore turned into junk food. Try to buy lard directly from the farmer who raised the hogs. Farmer’s markets are usually a great source of quality lard and tallow. 

LEARNING MORE ABOUT EATING ORGAN MEATS
 
I’ve only scratched the surface of the topic of cooking with organ meat here. The main goal today is to overcome previous phobias and to teach new flavors by frying. The real fun begins once one has broken the ice and begun to savor the true flavor. I make several liver paté dishes that could also be gateway foods for novices.  I highly recommend them, especially my Three Root Liver Paté which includes the ground roots from fresh horseradish, ginger and tumeric. In addition to paté, I’ve made many great Olde World sausages using liver and other organ meats and they are equally amazing.  All the tips about selecting wholesome liver apply here as well. Part of the big fun is finding all the various particular recipes that excite your taste buds. In addition, raw liver may be used medicinally, the most common method is to introduce it into a yogurt smoothie drink. When liver of excellent quality is used, it’s virtually impossible to detect even several ounces of liver in each blender drink. The health benefits are stunning. 
 
Several recent trends have been turning the tide. Not the least of which is the Paleo food movement. Cave man knew about organ meats and relished them. Modern paleo doesn’t ask one to eat gobs of raw wooly mammoth liver, good luck with finding that at Whole Foods anyway, but the Paleo people want us to discover the modern versions and eat them in similar ratios and amounts. For most people who find a comfortable version of the Paleo diet will discover that it is a great way to lose excess blubber and regain good health, immunity and fertility. 
 
Obviously, we are a sick, diabetic, fat and cancer-ridden nation. Many people are looking for answers and one of the best places to dig is into the Pre-Modern world. We know from archeology and digs into ancient ruins that people were once taller than people throughout most of “modern” history, they also had larger brains and were assumed to be more intelligent. The nutrients in liver and other organ meats are particularly responsible for building strong brains, strong bodies. 
 
We know that grain-eating and domesticated agriculture has damaged our health in many ways. Dr. Weston A. Price a truth-seeking holistic dentist from the 1930‘s traveled the globe seeking all the basic guidelines of real nutrition truth. One of his most amazing finds was how ancient and indigenous cultures savored organ meats, including liver, brain, bone marrow and thymus glands. These nutrient-dense special foods were saved for those in most need, growing children, pregnant and nursing women and the elderly. One can read about these findings in his opus magnum “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” which, along with many excellent books where you may find many more reasons and recipes for cooking organ meat, are for sale  at the acresusa.com bookstore. For more information about the physiological need cooking with oil and which ones to eat,  there are several great websites such as eatwild.commercola.com, and particularly  westonaprice.org
 
We've all been sold a nasty bill of goods. Eating wholesome liver on a regular basis heals every cell in the body but it’s particularly good for restoring, rebuilding and healing our own liver. Over a third of all Americans are taking statin drugs, a seriously liver-toxic drug! Most Americans have have a liver so-damaged and devitalized that they cannot destroy allergy particles, cannot detoxify environmental poisons, carcinogens or oxidative particles, nor can they digest their food properly. It’s time to take our American cuisine back! Perhaps we can do it one liver-hater at a time! 
 

 

WILL WINTER is a holistic herd health consultant and livestock nutritionist who hangs his hat in Minnesota. He is also a traveling teacher focusing on sustainable agriculture and traditional nutrition. He provides consultations and natural livestock supplies to farmers, and also raises his own pastured hogs, hair sheep and meat goats. 
 
612-756-1232

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